The Time I Did Family Portraits for the Bidens

What me nervous?

By Dennis Drenner on 29 Jan 2021
in Odds and Ends

Joe Biden and Jill Biden informal portraits

A few years ago, I did the official holiday portrait for Vice President Joe Biden and family. I first met the uber-charming Dr. Jill Biden and her staff while photographing an event at the VP's residence for the Red Cross. Two years later, they thought of me when they were looking for a portrait photographer to do some family photos for their annual holiday card.

(Below you can see an awkward photo of me, Dr. Jill and Santa Claus from that day.)

Dennis and Santa Claus and Jill Biden

I accepted the assignment with alacrity --- and then spent the next three weeks waking up at two in the morning stressed about potential lighting mishaps! "What if my lights fail in the middle of the shoot? What if it rains? I have to get some more backup equipment, more lights, 17 assistants, extra camera batteries... What if, what if, what if...."

Fortunately on the day of the shoot the light was beautiful, the Bidens were as charming as could be, and my overqualified assistant and good friend Michael Temchine was nearby and ready to take over if I fainted and had to be dragged off the lawn by Secret Service. But as soon as I picked up my camera, stage fright dissolved and I began photographing and directing the portraits as I have done hundreds of times before. If anything, this shoot was easier than most as the Biden family is well used to the camera and I felt like I was working with commercial print models!

Vice President Joe Biden and family holiday card

After the shoot, I told my story to a few friends, and -- being as this is Smalltimore -- I soon got a call from Baltimore Magazine wanting a short interview with me which you can see below.

Baltimore magazine article about Biden holiday card

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