Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

Obama. Yes we can.

Obama. Change.

Never was I so excited about an election. Being repulsed by the dirty nature of politics since young, I’ve avoided talking about politics, no matter whether is it in real life, or on my blog. It’s the nature of Malaysian racially-charged politics that moulded this natural, intrinsic avoidance of it. But when it comes to the US presidency election, I was even more excited that my own country’s election. We’re looking at Barack Obama. We’re looking at change.

The Election

CNN said it right on their front page. No matter who wins, this US presidential election will be a ground-breaking one. We will either have the first African-American president whose root partially lies in Kenya, or have the oldest president so far. It’s either Obama, or McCain. It’s America’s choice.

The voting process was tedious. I’ve read stories about voters coming out to vote for the first time in their lives. People who willingly queue for hours and hours just to cast their votes, amongst the millions of others doing exactly the same thing over night, regardless of skin colour, ethnicitiy, income and dreams. The young ones complained about the queue, but said if I’m in the queue, I’m in! The not so young ones came with chairs, newspapers, radios, takeouts. They braved the weather and rain, survived the queue and hours and hours of waiting. They were there for the same thing – they wanted change.

Why Obama?

And the winner is...

And the winner is... (Photo © Callie Shell / Aurora for Time)

The excruciating wait for the election results. At first McCain was leading, my heart skipped. Not because I didn’t want McCain to win, but I wanted Obama to. He carries the voice of the Americans, the carries the voice of the world. He is there to prove that America doesn’t belong to anybody – there’s no white America, no black America; no asian America, no hispanic America. It’s the United States of America, it belongs to everyone. Everyone was tired of how American politics and policies were moulded the Bush way – they wanted a change, and Obama promises that.

Unlike McCain who is a fervent supporter of the Bush administration 90% of the time, Obama wanted to Iraq war to over. Obama didn’t want gay marriages (neither did McCain wanted), but he advocated for equal rights and treatment for them (and I applaud that). Obama doesn’t want the man-on-the-street to suffer from economic boom or downfalls – he doesn’t want a distincion between the main streets and Wall Street. If America grows, everyone benefits. If America suffers, everyone has to chip in. Obama wants to make sure that the United States of America is united – rising and fall as one nation.

I find Obama very down-to-earth and approachable – even when I have not even met him in person. Unlike Sarah Palin who’ve splurged hundreds of thousands on her campaign outfit, Obama doesn’t spend much on his outfit – I like it when politicians only focus on the causes they’re supporting for. The last time Obama resoled his shoes was last year during the start of the election campaign – this speaks volume of his personality.

When Obama gave his speeches, I can’t help but nod in agreement. He is the beacon of light that people want – regardless of nationality. People across the Pacific Ocean, in Kenya, in Indonesia, in Japan, watches his speech on television sets, listens to his words on radios. People from the forgotten corners of Earth, they tuned in.

His yes-we-can speech that night in Chicago moved me. Not to mention his mention of how the United States of America has changed and revolutionised in the lifetime of Ann Nix Cooper, a 106-year-old voter from Atlanta.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

Here’s the full transcript of his speech.

Obama, Behind-the-scenes, by Callie Shell

Recently, a Twitter friend of mine, Juanma, tweeted about Callie Shell’s photo of Obama. I followed the link and I couldn’t help but be moved by all the behind-the-scenes photos. The side of Obama that not everyone has seen before.

Four years ago Time photographer Callie Shell met Barack Obama backstage when she was covering presidential candidate John Kerry. She sent her editor more photographs of Obama than Kerry. When asked why, she said, “I do not know. I just have a feeling about him. I think he will be important down the road.” Her first photo essay on Obama was two and half years ago. She has stuck with him ever since.

Earlier this spring she was asked to shoot a cover of Obama for Time. A past election cover of Kerry by David Burnett was mentioned as what the magazine wanted. She admits to having been nervous about it. “I don’t do portraits, and hate to ask people to look into my lens. I had spent two years trying to get Obama to forget about me. We were on the campaign bus bumping down some rough roads, and the light was nice. I asked Barack to look up. He saw how uncomfortable I was and started to laugh. ‘You are miserable doing this aren’t you?’ We were both laughing, and that’s how I got the cover.”

You can read more about her travels with Obama. Photos are copyrighted by Callie Shell. The descriptions are by Callie herself, and are written in first-person perspective.

Obama, two years ago.

Obama, two years ago.

I made this picture in October of 2006 during the Illinois State races. Just three of us in a car: Senator Obama, a friend of his who was driving and me. I don’t think you could make this picture now. He had stopped at a rest area along the back roads of Illinois.There are no Secret Service agents, no staff, no motorcade or traveling press corps. It is a sharp contrast to the 200,000-person crowd that greeted Obama in Berlin less than two years later.

A Mother Grief.

A Mother's Grief.

A Mother’s Grief: This woman had lost her son in Iraq. She wanted people to know that it was not unpatriotic to be against the war and for Obama. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 2/11/2007.

Obama leaving an ice cream shop in Wapello, Iowa.

Obama leaving an ice cream shop in Wapello, Iowa.

I loved that he cleaned up after himself before leaving an ice cream shop in Wapello, Iowa. He didn’t have to. The event was over and the press had left. He is used to taking care of things himself and I think this is one of the qualities that makes Obama different from so many other political candidates I’ve encountered. Nov. 7, 2007.

On the campaign bus.

On the campaign bus.

On the campaign bus driving through New Hampshire, 1/6/2008.

Young supporters listening to Obama.

Young supporters listening to Obama.

Young supporters listen to Obama speak during a rally at South Carolina State College, Orangeburg, S.C., 1/22/2008.

He told me that he had already had them resoled once since he entered the race a year earlier.

He told me that he had already had them resoled once since he entered the race a year earlier.

Senator Obama was doing press interviews by telephone in a holding room between events. Sometime later as he was getting ready to begin his event, he asked me if I was photographing his shoes. When I said yes, he told me that he had already had them resoled once since he entered the race a year earlier. Providence, R.I., 3/1/2008.

This moment was rare and you could tell they just loved being able to sit together.

This moment was rare and you could tell they just loved being able to sit together.

It was primary morning in New Hampshire. Barack and Michelle Obama had been campaigning separately all week. In the first few months of 2008 their private time seemed to consist of a few crossover moments in back hallways before rallies. This moment was rare and you could tell they just loved being able to sit together. Jan. 8, 2008.

There are more photos that can be found in her page of photos dedicated to Obama.

Dear Callie, thank you so much for sharing photos of Obama. I stumbled upon this website after hopping through Twitter feeds… and you’ve done such a marvellous work. It just moves me to see how down-to-earth and true-to-heart Obama is. I’ve never ever seen a presidential candidate for being so empathetic, caring, understanding and yet being passionate and enthusiastic about his cause.

I could see tears in people’s eyes, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, social divide, income, dreams… when he said those words on the stage.

God speed, Obama!

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