First-Ever White House Videographer Talks Life at 1600 Pennsylvania

REALITY TV: Arun Chaudhary discusses what it was like to film Obama virtually 24/7

'First Cameraman' by Arun Chaudhary

In his brand-new book, First Cameraman (Times Books; $30), Arun Chaudhary, the first-ever White House videographer, writes about what it was like to film Obama virtually 24/7. Matt Schur asked him some questions.

You chronicled Obama both on the campaign trail and in the White House. Why did he want a videographer around?
My job had been to transmit [Obama’s] personality to the people. [Obama and his top aides] thought this would still be a valuable tool continuing on, though the scope of it changed from being a messaging tool to a historical document.

What is the president like on—and off—camera?
Many other politicians I see, the instant they go onstage, they put themselves through a transformation almost like actors do to get themselves psyched up. That’s not something you get from Barack Obama. In any situation, he acts exactly the same.

What happened to all the footage you shot?
It’s sitting with the White House Communications Agency. They have it on hard drives. Thanks to Richard M. Nixon, all photos and film and any work done by or with the president is all preserved.

 

Photograph: Courtesy of Times Books

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