Callie Shell: Barack Obama 100 days Behind the Scenes at

The President returns a chair after a meeting at the Oval Office.
©Callie Shell

Photographer Callie Shell has been photographing President Obama for five years. You can see her images at the website.

As chance would have it, the first photos she ever took of him were when she was on assignment to photograph somebody else. It was 2004 and Time had sent her to follow the John Kerry campaign. It was in a holding room at a rally in Chicago that she came across the then little-known senator. "He was just there as one of the speakers. But you couldn't not notice him. He was very funny, very good-looking, very well spoken. He just seemed at ease with the world around him. He had everything. And people in the room really reacted to him.

"It also happened that he was standing in a much better light than John Kerry and so I did portraits of him and sent them in and my editor was like, 'Who's this?' And I'm like, 'He's this guy from Chicago but I think... I think he's more than just your local Chicago politician.' And then he made the speech at the Democratic convention and we all knew who he was from that point."

Shell lobbied to do a story on him in 2006 which eventually became a cover piece, and it was the rapport she built up during that time that has stood her in such good stead. She got to know him before the campaign madness and its attendant security requirements took over.

When it kicked off in earnest, she went back on the road with him and the result is perhaps one of the most intimate set of portraits there is of the president elect - catching a quick nap on the campaign bus, relaxing with his children, snatching a moment alone with his wife, Michelle.

Carol Cadwaller
The Observer
January 11, 2009