CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Arun Chaudhary, who spent four years following President Barack Obama with a video camera, returned to his old hometown of Chappaqua on Wednesday night to talk about his new book about his adventures, “First Cameraman: Documenting the Obama Presidency In Real Time.”
Chaudhary first showed some of his favorite behind-the-scenes clips of Obama in the event at the Chappaqua Library Theater. It was clear from the clips that the president has an easy-going nature, along with a playful sense of humor.
“One thing about the president is he is very authentic on camera,” Chaudhary said. “He is not good at faking emotion. He’s also a nerd at heart. If there’s a cheesy joke to be made, most times he can’t help himself.”
Chaudhary, who graduated from Horace Greeley High School in 1993, emphasized the president's outgoing nature.
“Something you would never pick up about President Obama from how he handles himself on the national stage in a speech is his intellectual curiosity,” he said. “He is very intellectually curious. Hopefully that’s something people who read the book will pick up on.”
Growing up in Chappaqua, Chaudhary never envisioned a job in politics. Before becoming the first official videographer of the White House in 2009, he was trying his hand at making indie fiction films.
“It took a confluence of events for me to end up with the gig,” he said, pointing out factors such as Hillary Rodham Clinton's need for a camera crew in Chappaqua years ago and a childhood friend from film camp who ended up at CNN who helped to recruit him.
The hardest thing about writing his book was meeting deadlines, Chaudhary said.
“I essentially had six months to write the thing because my publishers wanted it out in time for this year’s election,” he said. “Luckily, my wife is a writer or else I would have been in some trouble.”
Chaudhary has not seen Obama since he was re-elected, but he stopped by the White House in September to personally give the president a copy of the book.
He will not soon forget Obama’s response: “Look everybody, Arun wrote a book. At least someone around here is literate.”