President Barack Obama visits Ho Chi Minh City

It was tough to resist trying to get a photograph of President Obama during his visit to Saigon this week, it's not everyday that a President of the United States comes to town after all. Saigon was the President's second stop in Vietnam having spent an action packed couple of days in Hanoi before heading south. The President was only in Saigon for 24 hours but he still managed to pack an amazing amount of activity into such a short time.  

On day 2 of the visit I made it to the front of the President's first and last public stop for the day, the GEM Centre, before the motorcade arrived. He was to host a town hall meeting.

A very kind female Secret Service Agent came over and asked me if I "would like to come inside to cover the event". Hardly believing her hospitality and my luck I replied "oh, I'd love to". She told me to stand near a group of three or four Vietnamese photographers who were grouped near an entry door and then said something into her wristwatch. I dutifully went and stood where I was told to stand, with my new found "colleagues", all of whom rather ominously had impressive looking press credentials dangling from their necks. Another Secret Service Agent rushed over and asked me "where are your credentials?". I slowly pointed to my American Consulate baseball cap. He frowned and slowly shook his head from side to side. Discretion being the better part of valor, and not wanting to be arrested, I left, rejected and dejected, to join the rest of the herd.  

As a photographer sadly lacking in press credentials you quickly realize the value of access, so with no access to anything resembling the real action I had no choice but to make my story about the incredible turnout of the Vietnamese people and the extraordinary admiration that they showed for President Obama. Some images from my brief pursuit are below. 

 Air Force One descends into Tan Son Nhat airport. This is my kind of public transport.

Air Force One descends into Tan Son Nhat airport. This is my kind of public transport.

 The Presidents motorcade arrives at the DreamPlex Building in Saigon's District 1.

The Presidents motorcade arrives at the DreamPlex Building in Saigon's District 1.

 Straining for a glimpse.

Straining for a glimpse.

 The local constabulary are curious.

The local constabulary are curious.

 Thousands line both sides of Ton Duc Thang Street. It started to rain. Nobody left.

Thousands line both sides of Ton Duc Thang Street. It started to rain. Nobody left.

 Near the GEM Centre on day 2 of the visit.

Near the GEM Centre on day 2 of the visit.

 Before it was discovered that my American Consulate baseball cap was indeed not a press credential I sang out to this crowd "Obama". They went nuts for POTUS. I was soon to join them BEHIND the barricade.

Before it was discovered that my American Consulate baseball cap was indeed not a press credential I sang out to this crowd "Obama". They went nuts for POTUS. I was soon to join them BEHIND the barricade.

 A different perspective can change the mood of a shot completely. The same frame from a lower angle.

A different perspective can change the mood of a shot completely. The same frame from a lower angle.

 Waiting for the motorcade near the GEM Centre this resourceful crowd brought their own signage.

Waiting for the motorcade near the GEM Centre this resourceful crowd brought their own signage.

 The "spare". Again, my kind of public transport.

The "spare". Again, my kind of public transport.

 Nobody said that photography would be easy.

Nobody said that photography would be easy.

 Near the GEM Centre.

Near the GEM Centre.