About nine or ten Octobers ago, I did the official holiday card photo for the Biden family. I first met the charming second lady, Dr. Jill Biden, while take pictures at an event at the Naval Observatory for the American Red Cross. Two years later her staff remembered me when they were looking for a photographer to take family portraits for the annual holiday card.
(Below is an awkward photo of me, Dr. Jill and Santa Claus from the first meeting.)
I accepted the assignment right away, and then ran to the bathroom for some spirited stress puking. Seriously, I was nervous for weeks, waking up at three in the morning worrying about potential mishaps! "What if my lights fail? What if it rains? I have to get some more backup equipment, more lights, 17 assistants, extra batteries, cameras, lenses... What if, what if, what if?!?!"
Fortunately the weather and light were beautiful on the day of the shoot, the Bidens were friendly and disarming, and my overqualified assistant and friend Michael Temchine was ready to take over if I fainted. But the moment I picked up my camera, stage fright dissolved and I began photographing and directing the portraits as I have done hundreds of times before. If anything, this shoot was easier than most as the Biden family is well used to the camera and I felt like I was working with commercial print models!
After the shoot, I told my story to a few friends, and -- being as this is Smalltimore -- I soon got a call from Baltimore Magazine wanting a short interview with me which you can see below.