Arun Chaudhary, the White House’s first videographer, is a free man now — more or less. The man who began working for Barack Obama back in 2007, documenting both Obama’s ascent and his presidency, is leaning back in his chair as he sits in a pub just across the street from New York City’s South Street Seaport. He’s drinking his second beer of the afternoon, and splitting a plate of fried calamari. Now a fellow at George Washington University and a senior vice president of communication for Revolution Messaging, he’s also on tour for his book “First Cameraman,” which documents his Obama years. Since Chaudhary, whose mother’s family is Jewish, no longer has to keep up with a grueling White House schedule, he has time to chat about civilian life, his years in D.C., and, perhaps most important, the legendary Seders he attended.
Adam Langer: So, what’s it like for you, not having to go to the White House anymore?
Arun Chaudhary: It sucks. You know, I’ll tell you the thing that I miss the most. I’m very good at getting my stuff done. But what I’m not good at is getting in vehicles or feeding myself on time. White House life was perfect that way. I could totally focus on work. There were tables with sandwiches on them. Having to take care of myself in that way has been a little worse.
You’re reminding me of that Woody Allen movie “To Rome With Love,” where Roberto Benigni becomes a celebrity and then just as quickly returns to obscurity.
That’s right — because I was a false celebrity. I was always standing next to someone very very famous. People would say, “I saw you on TV, Arun.” What they meant was that they saw my head dart by on CNN when I was trying to get out of the shot.
Was it strange or jarring to be in the presence of the president? Or, did you begin to take for granted the importance of the presidency?