Before Michelle Obama’s book tour event at the Tacoma Dome on Sunday, Cosmopolis photographer Darrell Westmoreland was one of the few who got a chance to meet with the former first lady and get a photo with her.
Westmoreland, a house photographer for the Tacoma Dome since 1989, was in charge of photographing the meet-and-greet event that preceeded Obama’s talk with Jimmy Kimmel. To get this role, Westmoreland, who’s based in Montesano, said he had to get special clearance from the U.S. Secret Service, and said there were a number of Secret Service staff leading Obama through the event, as well as a SWAT team.
The Cosmopolis photographer estimated he took photos of around 150 people with Obama during the meet-and-greet. At the end, Obama asked Westmoreland if he’d like a photo together, which he agreed to. Obama also made sure to let the personal assistant check the photos with Westmoreland to see if he liked them.
“They looked fine, other than me being a little short,” Westmoreland joked.
During the event, Westmoreland said he also talked with Obama briefly about her book tour and gave her a copy of one of his coffee table books of rock music photography.
Having photographed lots of other celebrities and politicians such as presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, Westmoreland said he wasn’t starstruck, just that it was a “cool” experience and that he found Obama to be very humorous and nice. He added that sometimes an assistant for Obama would be ready to lead her away from someone before she shut them down to hear someone’s story.
“You could tell Michelle would sometimes stop them and say, ‘No, I want to hear the rest of the story,’ ” Westmoreland said.