Obama UC Berkeley

Credit: White House

Detail of photo of Hope Hall filming President Obama.

Most of the people who follow the President of the United States wherever he goes are there to protect his life. But Hope Hall has a different job: to document it.

For the last six years, she’s been Barack Obama’s presidential videographer (think of her as the national fly on the wall). She doesn’t shoot videos for the official record; that’s the job of the White House Communications Agency, which documents every public event in which the President participates. Her assignment is to film the President in his more informal moments.

“My job is more editorial, in that my work is more often handheld and behind the scenes, rather than on a tripod from a riser,” she says. Everything she shoots will go to the National Archives and, eventually, the Obama Presidential Library.

Among her recent work: President Obama launching marshmallows at the White House Science Fair; surprising tourists on the Ellipse, the park that lies south of the White House gates; handing out special White House M&Ms to trick-or-treaters on Halloween (and getting a big kick out of one little kid dressed as a lame duck); shooting the breeze (and some hoops) with the University of Connecticut’s NCAA champion women’s basketball team; making surprise phone calls on Mother’s Day to the moms of some of the people who have written him; answering questions from a class of White House interns.

“But our single most successful piece of content, both in terms of reach and engagement, was a video of the President and the First Lady dancing with a 106-year-old woman in the Blue Room. It not only got the most hits by far, it got the most comments, shares and retweets.” Hall and the video team also produce a weekly compilation of the greatest hits from the previous seven days called West Wing Week, narrated by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

“I have the best job ever, by a margin of a zillion,” she says. “Honestly, just about every day on the job I have a moment where I get goose bumps and have to have a little freak-out in a quiet corner. I still can’t believe it’s real.”

Read the full story at California Magazine.