Africa 2012 with President Clinton

By | July 24, 2012

I have just returned from an amazing week in Africa with President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton. I was hired by the Clinton Foundation to document the President and a delegation as they visited Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative projects in South Africa, Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda.

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting Nelson Mandela at his home in Qunu, South Africa, the rural village where he grew up. I was nervous about making this photograph because I wanted to respect Mandela’s privacy and not be too intrusive. I waited to be called into the room and thought I would only have a minute or two to photograph the meeting. However, the living room was full of family members and staff and nobody seemed to mind that I was there. I felt like I had my picture and was turning to leave when another photographer came bursting into the room. He was shooting for the Mandela family and he asked the two former presidents to shake hands (which I thought was a bit cheesy.) As they did, he patted Mandela on the shoulder and said “Madiba, smile!” A grin came across Mandela’s face and THAT was the photo, not so cheesy after all. The day we visited the former South African president was considered Mandela Day and the next day was his 94th birthday.

President Clinton visited Nelson Mandela on the eve of his 94th birthday at his residence in Qunu, South Africa.

Another special moment of the trip was when President Bill Clinton met with Ugandan teenager Bill Clinton. I was part of a White House trip to Africa in 1998 when President Clinton met an infant who was named after him. The local Ugandan newspaper ran a story during our 2012 trip about the boy. Our staff was able to track him down and arranged a meeting at the airport. It was an emotional moment as the two embraced on the tarmac. Later that evening as we were flying to our next stop, some of the staff and myself were talking about the 1998 photo and thinking about how great it would be to see the two photos together. I am notorious for never throwing anything away (you never know when you might need something) and that means my computer is usually full of outdated files and folders. Luckily, a slide show of my White House images that I had prepared for a presentation two years ago, was still on my laptop and believe it or not, the 1998 photo of Bill Clinton holding Bill Clinton was there. I paired the two photos and we were able to send it to the Ugandan newspaper the next day and post it on the Clinton Foundation website.

President Clinton meets 14-year-old Bill Clinton in Uganda (right) President Clinton met Bill in 1998 when he traveled to Uganda (left). Bill was named after President Clinton because he was born on the day the President arrived in Uganda.

My favorite photo from the trip was a candid moment between father and daughter. As we were on the tarmac in Kigali, heading for the airplane, I turned around and saw this wonderful moment in beautiful light. Thanks to Nikon for loaning me a 24mm f1.4 lens for the trip, which was just what I needed in this low light situation and was a perfect match for my new D800 camera.

President Clinton and Chelsea on the tarmac in Kigali, Rwanda before boarding a plane to Uganda.

The trip was full of wonderful moments and great photos – here are a few of my other images from the week. An entire gallery of photos can be viewed on the Clinton Foundation website along with blog posts from staff, Chelsea and members of the delegation including actor Jeffrey Wright.

President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton visit City Year South Africa in Johannesburg.

Chelsea Clinton listens to children share their stories and artwork at the Polana Canhico Health Facility in Maputo, Mozambique.

After attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new library at the No-Moscow Primary School in Qunu, South Africa, President Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and Former First Lady of South Africa Gra├ža Machel spend time listening to children reading.

President Clinton meets students at the Building Tomorrow Academy of Bubeezi in Uganda.

Dancers welcome President Clinton at the Butaro District Hospital in the Burera District, Northern Province of Rwanda.


1 Comment

Liz Banse on July 25, 2012 at 10:00 am.

The lighting is absolutely beautiful, adds so much to the moment that Bill and Chelsea Clinton are sharing on the tarmac. Nice work.