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Documentary Photography: Creating a Life in Storytelling

Lesson 12 of 13

Writing the Next Chapter


Documentary Photography: Creating a Life in Storytelling

Lesson 12 of 13

Writing the Next Chapter


Lesson Info

Writing the Next Chapter

I distinctly remember the sound of the gate latching, the metal gate latching behind me, as I walked out of the White House for the last time. So many times (imitates sound of gate latch) you know? I'd gone in and out in and out in and out. But as I'm walking out knowing, "This is the last time, that I'm walking out of the White House." And so many people had wondered, although few people would ask, but I could see it in their eyes, "What are you gonna do next?" (audience laughing) "What are you gonna do after this?" And the truth was I had no idea, because I didn't have any time to think about it. Again my role was to document for history. There's no like wondering. There's no like straying thoughts. Like you have to be completely focused and present, and that's what I was. So one thing I did know, is that I was gonna be a new mother. I had worked 'til December 23rd and had my daughter on December 29th. (audience laughing) So for the mouths dropping (laughs) and the math, the computin...

g. Everyone who's wondering, yes I did travel to different countries, different cities in the U.S. I did carry my own equipment, I did you know swift walking, maybe I wasn't running so much anymore and for most of my pregnancy. And I wouldn't have done it any other way. So you know, on December 29th, I welcomed a healthy baby girl into the world and I knew that I would be a Mom and have to figure out how to do that (laughs). And a few months later, I would have been contacted by a literary agent, to ask if I wanted to make a book, of my photos, with my story about being a White House photographer. A few more months later, I'd have to come out from behind the camera. Can you imagine that? Can no (laughs) (audience laughs) I'm speaking to the camera man and as the photographer it was a lot more comfortable for me to be behind the lens. So when my publicist said "Oh we're scheduled you for, to have an interview with Robin Roberts, on Good Morning America and Anderson Cooper and I was like "Ahhh I don't know if I can do this anymore, can we cancel the book?" You know? (laughs) Because it was a space that was very, very uncomfortable for me. And then I'd be on a book tour, talking to crowded rooms across the country, about this work. And then I'd adapt the book, for children ages eight to twelve, with lots of fun facts about the White House, things that I loved and admired and all different first families and how they used the rooms and so then I'd be on another book tour. Why am I telling you all this? Because all of it scared me to death. (audience laughs) Right? All of it absolutely scared me to death. I had never made a book before, I had never been on a book tour, I didn't like to be in front of the camera. The comfort zone whoop way back there! Way back there! You know? "What if I make a book and no one likes it?" "What if I make a book and try to rely on my journalism skills, from way back and I'm not a good writer?" You know? "What if I get out there and I mess up?" All of these things could have happened right? But, "What if I don't try?" "What if I don't see?" "What if I just stay here on this side of the comfort zone?" So I've come to realize that, fear is not necessarily a bad thing. It isn't a bad thing, it's just the thing that keeps us on our toes. You know? To make sure that we're doing a good job. So now, when I recognize that I'm feeling fearful, (deep inhale) I just take a breath say, "Oh hello fear. Thanks for being here, I know you want me to do a good job, you're kind of in the way." (audience laughs) "And I'm tryna' get to the other side, so if you'll just excuse me. I wanna see what's on the other side." So thank you so much for being here and listening. And I hope that we can all push ourselves past our comfort zone. Because I feel like that is where life and your work, gets really really good.

Class Description


  • Identify what stories you’re drawn to photograph
  • Trust your instincts when documenting real-world scenarios
  • Approach subjects creatively when capturing a story
  • Understand how to pursue a career in documentary photography
  • See all sides of a situation through empathy to improve your photos


Documentary photography allows you to tell a story and give an inside look at a variety of situations. If it’s to serve as a memory for a family, or to inform the public- it is a powerful medium used by photographers daily. Former Official White House Photographer, Amanda Lucidon, inspires and guides a beginning audience into a career as a documentarian.

Utilizing her untraditional path and experiences, Amanda will discuss how to improve your photography through creative storytelling and how to grow professionally.

As one of only a few female White House Photographers, Amanda will talk through how creativity, resilience, and community helped her land a role documenting President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama from 2013-2017.


  • Photojournalist
  • Documentary photographers
  • Beginner and Intermediate


Amanda Lucidon is an award-winning documentarian, filmmaker, teaching artist, public speaker and New York Times best-selling author. Lucidon served as an Official White House Photographer responsible for documenting First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2017. She is one of only a few female White House Photographers in history. Lucidon is the author of Chasing Light and Reach Higher. In 2018, the John F. Kennedy Center appointed Lucidon as a Turnaround Artist, highlighting the importance of the arts in underserved schools. Currently, Lucidon is working with her husband Alan Spearman and a team of artists on implementing a pilot program that introduces arts and mindfulness practices to at-risk youth in Memphis, Tennessee. Amanda’s work has been honored by Pictures of the Year International, National Press Photographers Association Best of Photojournalism, and the White House News Photographers Association, among others.



I feel the class was a great honor to witness through Amanda’s eyes, as the journey of one of the most beautiful First Ladies of our time and to be able to capture the most personal moments of stillness. the class was so inspiring and I think it will be future lifetimes to come before we realize how important the Obamas were To our growth as a nation and evolution of humanity! thank you Amanda for your vision to capture the moments of stillness and sharing with us I loved this class In Gratitude ROBIN

a Creativelive Student

Amanda is an inspiration. Her hard work, dedication to her craft and in all the ways she pays it forward. This class will help you get beyond your creative blocks, see and create your own opportunities. All the while being reminded to BE KIND to yourself. With stunning images and fabulous stories, you'll learn from this class each time you watch it!


Thanks Amanda and CreativeLive. Great class. I'm studying photography and just finding my feet as a documentary photographer at 58yo. It's a wonderful thing to be able to record those moments. I may never be a White House tog, but thank you for the inspiration. ☺