“Might have an incredible project for you. Would you like to shoot Michelle Obama for our cover? Shoot would be late April early May for our cover. Let me know your schedule.
“Wow! I would change anything in my world for that one!
Yes, in case the above is not clear.
Keep me updated but any day in April or May will work.
And just like that, the ball was rolling! Lee Clower was given the opportunity to shoot First Lady Michelle Obama for Parenting Magazine. To say that we all were excited is a serious understatement. As with any photo shoot, there were a lot of moving pieces and plenty that went into the months and days leading up to the shoot. After discussing with Lee, we decided that it would be great to share his insights, thoughts and experiences in a two part interview series.
Part I of the series is a question/answer session with Lee prior to the shoot. Part II (to be released on 7/12) is based off an in-depth interview post-shoot with Lee himself! In order to capture the most genuine emotion and document all of the feelings, stories, experiences, and excitement we thought this was the best approach! Hope you enjoy!
Before we get started, we want to thank Andrea Ferronato, Ana Connery and the entire Parenting Team for this opportunity. We also should give a shout out to Mrs. Obama herself for being exactly what we hoped on set and more! And finally, we at JMI want to thank Lee Clower for his enthusiasm and willingness to share his insights, ideas, secrets and feelings about all things having to do with the shoot. Without further ado, here we go:
State Dining Room teaser
JMI: What was the first thing you felt when you were asked by Parenting to shoot the First Lady?
LC: This is my favorite thing I’ve ever been offered. I will make this happen! The second thing was I made it my mission to get my hands on anything and everything the President and First Lady have written. “Dreams From My Father” and “In Her Own Words” make both seem so likable and real.
JMI: You had some creative calls and discussions with the editors making this quite the collaborative effort. Tell us about that aspect of the process.
LC: Honestly, everyone involved was so psyched about the project that we had more ideas and creative energy flowing than I’ve experienced on any other project. Working with Mrs. Obama’s focus on health became the catalyst for our direction. But, finding activities that, as the photographer, I felt would get good shots in the short time allowed was the most challenging.
JMI: As a good ‘ole American Southern Boy, do you feel like the preparation for this shoot is making you more patriotic?
LC: I like this question and the label certainly applies. I am so excited to visit The White House and experience all of its history. Not as a tourist, but rather as someone actually contributing to and interacting with the most respected woman in the country. It just brings forth such wonderful visions of the America we lose sight of so often. I’m going to get a hot dog right now.
JMI: (sidenote) Speaking of hot dogs….Two words: America. Food. What do you think of?
LC: Good one! With no hesitation I am instantly reminded of my first Atlanta Braves baseball game with my father & the boiled peanuts they sold at the stadium in those days. They played the NY Mets and I attach some significance to that for ending up in NYC.
JMI: Alright, back to the shoot!…When asked to describe herself, Michelle Obama “doesn’t hesitate to say first and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha’s mom.”
This seems pretty important considering the shoot is for Parenting Magazine. How are you going to approach capturing the many hats she wears? (Including: First Lady, Mom…etc?)
LC: I love her position as Mom first; that alone exudes excellence to me. In my mind, I plan to balance the shoot with her as more First Lady on the cover and “Mom” on the inside shots. I think I accidentally happened upon a metaphor there…
JMI: Surely you are going to be able to ask more than two but if you could only ask the First Lady two things, what would they be?
LC: I have a few that I would love to ask that I’m pretty sure the secret service would have me taken out for (President and national security related) so I would refrain from those.
But otherwise, I know that we will talk and interact in a manner that will produce the best possible images. I think it’s this approach that keeps me comfortable in scenarios such as this one and why I don’t feel the least bit nervous.
Lee Clower in State Dining Room
Not nervous, huh? Yeah, he looks pretty collected..we would expect nothing less! (see above) Check back on Thursday for our second interview with Lee post-shoot to see if the nerves kick in and all the exciting things that happen!
Also, be sure to pick up the copy of Parenting magazine on stands now!