'Time' Photographer Captures Obama Moments

On the campaign trail, Obama stops to do three chin-ups. i i

hide captionOn the campaign trail in April 2008, Obama stops to do three chin-ups at a gym in Missoula, Mont.

Callie Shell/Aurora for Time
On the campaign trail, Obama stops to do three chin-ups.

On the campaign trail in April 2008, Obama stops to do three chin-ups at a gym in Missoula, Mont.

Callie Shell/Aurora for Time
Obama and his wife, Michelle, share a moment in a diner the day before the New Hampshire primary. i i

hide captionObama and his wife, Michelle, share a moment in a diner the day before the New Hampshire primary.

Callie Shell/Aurora for Time
Obama and his wife, Michelle, share a moment in a diner the day before the New Hampshire primary.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, share a moment in a diner the day before the New Hampshire primary.

Callie Shell/Aurora for Time
The Obamas get their daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, ready Monday for their first day of school. i i

hide captionThe Obamas get their daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, ready Monday in Washington, D.C., for their first day at their new school.

Callie Shell/Aurora for Time
The Obamas get their daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, ready Monday for their first day of school.

The Obamas get their daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, ready Monday in Washington, D.C., for their first day at their new school.

Callie Shell/Aurora for Time

The Obama transition team has released photographs of an intimate Obama family moment Monday morning, when the president-elect and his wife, Michelle, sent their daughters off to the first day at their new school.

One of the people with a front row seat at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C., was Time magazine photographer Callie Shell, who has been covering Obama since 2006.

Shell tells Michele Norris that Obama was trying to make Malia and Sasha laugh.

"I mean, he's saying, 'You're going to a new school, you're both really bright,' " Shell says. "'Don't worry about getting everything right. Don't be afraid to answer the questions.' And he goes, 'You guys are great, so just be you.' You know the same thing ... we tell our kids."

Shell is one of a handful of photographers who has had personal access to the Obama family since the beginning of the campaign, and her photos are now featured in a new book called President Obama: The Path to The White House.

She covered Obama when his entourage was so small that everyone could fit in a sedan. She was out on the road in 2006 when it was just Obama and a driver — and her.

Shell says her favorite photo is one she took of Obama at a rest stop where he's reaching into a car to shake hands with a couple from Illinois, and behind it there's a field and a truck.

"It means more if you do the whole campaign, because that photograph in that life doesn't exist anymore," Shell says. "He made a cell phone call on the side of the road, and he talked to this couple, and there's nobody around; there are no agents, there's no press, there's no motorcade — just him."

Another moment Shell captured was in June 2008, after Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination. He's standing in a freight elevator surrounded by members of his inner circle, including his wife, Eric Whitaker, Penny Pritzker and Valerie Jarrett. Shell says her editors wanted her to get a "high-five" picture, but "he's not really a high-five person," Shell says.

"I knew there was not going to be this emotional moment," she says. "I knew that he's a person who till the very day of the election never let his guard down. I was looking for a picture where he just looked at peace. ... I love freight elevators because ... once you get on an elevator, you can't go anywhere. We got on the elevator, and he just, he crossed his arms, and it wasn't like 'Hey' — it was this satisfaction that he got to this point. We've made it."

But Shell's work doesn't stop. She was there Monday morning when Obama's daughters were off to start at a new school. Shell says the girls were "amazing" in how they handled it.

"Sasha is the light and funny one who runs around and has all of the energy, and Malia is just the most graceful young lady you'd meet," Shell says. "And they're both very wonderful. They know their parents are gone. When they're with their parents, you can tell how excited they are to be with them."

"Today was their first day at a new school, and they were more worried about keeping their dad's spirits up because he didn't get to go to school with them this morning. He had to go to Capitol Hill, and he wasn't gonna get to go for the first day. And they were like, 'We'll tell you all about it, Dad.'

"And the thing that is funny, it's probably been the whole campaign, cause he and I talked about ... how hard it is to be away from your kids. The kids are half the time fine; it's you that's bad. So I think for him, I think he knows how lucky he is to have these kids who are so supportive of what he does and what his wife does, and he knows that he could not do this if it wasn't for his wife and his kids. And he never forgets that, and it's so obvious."

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