Ben Baker

Ben Baker @benbakerphoto

New York based Australian photographer. Represented by @reduxpictures & @jhutzinc. Creator of @conedogs

http://benbakerphoto.com/

Yes, I guess you realize by now I've enjoyed photographing the First Lady over the years.
I remember this moment, we were talking about her let's move program how we both love tennis.
While we were talking about that I was also thinking about a million other things..cameras, lights, magazine layouts, time left, next shot and making it all count.

More Michelle, because why not. Photographed in the Great Hall, White House 2010 for Readers Digest.

As photographers we get our name on the image but we are really just the lucky person at the end of the line with a camera in hand.
For these images to be produced there is a team of people who have worked for months to even get us in the door. The photo editors juggle working with photographers, stylists, art directors, editors, publishers and the people we photograph to make it all happen. I asked the amazing Claudia Grimaldi Marks who was the Photo Director at Parade Magazine and made this shoot happen, to reflect on our time in the WH with the First Lady.
"When I worked at Parade Magazine among the many things I was insanely lucky to get the opportunity to experience was to visit the White House for a shoot with our First Lady Michelle Obama. It was so magical and she was so gracious and incredibly warm and welcoming. The crew and I were just blown away by the experience. It was so special. I get excited and smile every time I see Ben's photo used officially, it's such a gorgeous image and so full of truth. It's even more special to know that the Obamas loved the portraits he took for us and I cherish the chance I had to be there while it happened"

We are all going to miss the incredible optimism and belief in all Americans. Happy birthday FLOTUS.

Happy birthday to First Lady Michelle Obama.
One of the fascinating parts of my work is to see how the famous faces we see in the media match up with the real person behind closed doors. I have photographed the First Lady a number of times over the years with and without the President and she is one of the most impressive people I have ever worked with.
She has a way of genuinely connecting with everyone in the room, in ways the President and in fact all four Presidents I have photographed cannot.

Martin Luther King Jr photographed on the campus of Morehouse college, Atlanta. Dr King graduated in 1948.

This image taken in the Oval Office in 2009 is one of my favorites. I was on assignment with the editors of Essence magazine for an interview and portrait. The White House had agreed at the end of the interview that we would get the first magazine portrait of the President standing by his desk.
Unfortunately the day before there had been an attempted terrorist attack to blow up an airliner above Detroit and almost succeeded.
As we walked into the Oval Office the White House communication team told me the desk portrait wasn't going to happen and not to push for it.
It's my job to fight for the best pictures no matter what but this was no ordinary moment. I did push back with the WH staff trying to get them to reconsider. There I was in the Oval Office with the President welcoming the editors, time ticking down and I am trying to get them to change a major decision. The only way for this to happen was to appeal directly to the President and upset them all. As we wrapped the interview I started talking to the President and was about to ask him to reconsider when the door to the Oval Office opened and the whole National Security Team began walking in to discuss the response to the attack. Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Pentagon Chiefs and National Security Advisors all walking in and my moment was over, I had to let it go.
It was a pretty deflating moment but one that was bigger than me and the magazine. As photographers we also have to consider the relationship, to make sure there is a next time.
This image was taken mid interview with the President pausing to think about a question, and just long enough to capture.

Looking back at times with President Obama takes me back to a morning in 2009 in the Oval office.
I was there with the editors of Essence magazine. Walking into the Oval office for the first time and seeing the President just waiting for you is quite the experience. It was amazing to be able to walk around and photograph the room and President, trying to find new ways to photograph the most photographed person and room in the world.

The first book in the series is one I really love. Simon Annands 'The Half' is an amazing series of intimate and intense photographs of actors preparing for the stage. "The Half' refers to the last thirty minutes before curtain up and all must leave the actor alone to focus. For the past 30 years Simon has had incredible access to these moments on the London stage.

Those who me also know I am an avid photo book collector. I can travel to any place on earth and will return with a great photo book in my suitcase.
Starting today I am going to showcase a book A to Z every Saturday morning, enjoy.

Here's a moment from the shoot with Joe Biden for people magazine. The Vice Presidents residence is on the grounds of the U.S naval observatory in northwestern Washington D.C. It's a much nicer place to live than the White House.I probably won't get the choice to live in either house but if I do, I will be choosing this one.

Great to see Vice President Joe Biden receive the Presidential medal of freedom yesterday. It's going to be tough to see him go. This portrait was from a @people magazine shoot a few years back. There's a great back story to that day if you check out a past posting with him holding a baseball bat.

Continuing on with a look back at my time with President Obama with his last days in office.
This image shot for Fortune magazine is one of my favorites. We wanted to show the excitement and optimism that captured the country and world. I kept asking that his expressions be larger and larger to the point he just broke out in laughter at my theatrics asking "who is this Aussie?" It can take a lot to get their minds off the daily stress and be present.

North Carolina, June 9th 2008 and my first portrait of then Senator Obama. This image was taken in a makeshift studio next to a cowshed. Just as we started shooting the buildings power failed. With the clock ticking down and my assistants scrambling to reset the power I walked the Senator away from the chaos and over to a white wall so I could hold his attention and keep taking portraits. I mentioned I had just photographed the Iranian President Ahmadinejad and how that went. Obama keep wanting to know more, "how was he, what did you talk about?" He kept asking more and more questions. I could see him getting more relaxed and comfortable giving me this moment. I look back now and know that the power failure was a gift.

Nice to see the new campaign with Hugh Jackman for MasterCard out there and looking great.
This is one in a series shot last year in New York and Australia, the rest will be out soon.
A huge thanks to the creative genius Peter Hibberd and the amazing Annette Fausboll of @uglyupdate who made the long and tough days such a joy.

How can I get past the big news of the day that January 8th is R Kelly's birthday, happy birthday Mr Kelly.
This was from a shoot for XXL Magazine a few years ago in Chicago. It was one of those classic marathon rap shoots that took 20 hours with just a few minutes of actual shooting.
I do as much research as I can, looking at images, reading books and watching movies. I watched his rap opera, trapped in the closet and I still have no idea if it's the worst film ever made or the greatest ever piece of performance art.
Thanks to the amazing Sally Berman (@runred) for this and many other XXL shoots.

Here is the legendary Richard Avedon's image of W.H Auden in snowy NYC. 📷1960

I just had to get a portrait in the snow. I have always loved Richard Avedon's Portrait of W.H Auden in the snow that I will find and post.

It took 18 years for me to see snow for the first time. It hasn't gotten old yet, and neither has this view.

That's a wrap on 2016.

Great to see Scarlett Johansson named as hollywoods top earning actor for 2016. It's nice to see a woman taking that title for once. This image was from a shoot many years ago when a very young actor wandered into the room of the chelsea hotel that I had rented to photograph her for entertainment weekly. Besides being incredibly beautiful, she was so open about growing up in New York and what the road ahead as a young actor might be. I remembered the photo editor called me after the shoot wrapped to see how she was in front of the camera. I pretty quickly let the magazine know that I had just photographed a future superstar.

Another memorable shoot this year was with Hugh Jackman for a MasterCard campaign. For a kid from Australia who knew him as a decent stage actor back home it's been amazing to watch his career. And yes, he really is that nice guy everyone thinks he is.
He was on set for more than 12hrs shooting the tv and stills campaigns and all day was as kind to the janitor as he was to the client and director.

With just 4 days to go of 2016, I am looking back at some of my favorite images of the year.
I photographed Anderson Cooper back in January as part of a book cover with his mother Gloria Vanderbilt. It was fascinating to photograph such a public figure at home with his mom and see how we all change when we are back in old family roles.

Merry Christmas everyone. Here's a family classic from many years ago with my sister Amy and a very young Santa.

Christmas balls with 42

Happy holidays from #1

Christmas, unwrapped.

Christmas, almost.

Adding to the news this week was the guilty conviction of the IMF's director Christine Lagarde on negligence charges in France. It appears she can still remain in her role, and it will be fascinating to see how she deals with the new administration. This shot was from a Forbes shoot in her DC office.
I had a great moment when I first met Legarde, she had to keep us waiting for a few hours and was kind enough to ask her team to find us coffee in the building. I quickly asked her if it was American or French coffee? She very quickly replied with a big proud smile that is was definitely French and not American.

Reports are out that Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire and at times richest man in the world had dinner with PEOTUS in Florida last weekend. Between the wall and trade that must have been a pretty interesting conversation. This shot was from a Forbes shoot in Mexico City and we somehow got the richest man in the world out of the office and in the streets of Mexico City posing with a payphone that's part of his telecommunications empire.

The next cabinet appointee is billionaire buddy Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary. He's the kind of deal maker that Trump promised to bring to DC. Wall Street loves him and sees him as a savvy investor, others think he's another vulture investor putting profits ahead of people. When I photographed him for Fortune magazine he seemed pretty old and frail to be running a major firm at 80 years of age.
Let's see how he copes with the amount of travel expected of a commerce secretary.

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