Oprah!

/
29 Comments

This is most likely going to be the most epic blog post I will ever get to post. A few posts back I posted about an event called The Rescue. The event took place in 100 cities world wide and was put on by an organization that I used to work for called Invisible Children. Invisible Children is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of children in Northern Uganda who are forced to fight as child soldiers in a rebel army. The goal of this event was to have people camp out in a public place as part of a peaceful demonstration to demand our policy makers and people of influence to come to the event to “Rescue” us. In order to rescue us they would have to come to the event and speak to the people there giving a commitment to act on what is taking place in Northern Uganda.

The event that I shot and posted already was the one in Orlando. We got lucky and got rescued that night but other cities were not as lucky. The cities that were not rescued yet were still standing strong and staying in their respective outside places until their rescuer came. Then it came down to one last city. Chicago.  There were people there holding strong and the decision was made to not leave until they were rescued by either Oprah or Obama. I was watching the live feed of what was going on in Chicago and there were about 500 people there from all over the country and the world who came out to support the last city and to show that its not over until everyone is rescued.

After I watched the live feed for a bit I went out to eat with Veronica and I told her that I wanted to go up there but I didn’t have the money. I said “If I had the money, I would be there in a second.” Well, I got home and checked the mail. In the mail was a check for a wedding that I am going to be shooting and I knew what it meant. I was going to Chicago. I threw some clothes in a bag and grabbed some food and took off at 7pm to drive for 17 hours to Chicago.

I arrived in Chicago at 1pm the next afternoon and had the pleasure of seeing tons of my friends that I used to work with and the other 500 people that were there. I knew this was going to be big. Obviously it was going to be big. Oprah and Obama. Big momma and big daddy. Bring it on.

We spent the afternoon performing an awesome dance and song outside of the Oprah studio to let her know that we were there and that we were waiting for her to rescue us. The video of the song is below along with some of the pictures.
 

1-31-21-41-51-61-81-91-111-121-131-141-161-181-19

 

We were out there for a few hours performing that dance to get her attention but she never came out. We had people in the building standing at the windows and opening them so they could hear us but they never came out. That night we found a church in Indiana that was willing to house us for the night so we drove down and had over 500 people jammed in a church gym sleeping shoulder to shoulder, head to feet, feet to face, anyway possible on the hardwood floors. People who were watching the live feed were asked, if they could, to donate some money or to have some food sent to the address we were at in order to get us fed. Almost instantly there was over $1,000 and tons of food. This was alot bigger than just those 500 people in the gym. The world was watching and they were showing their support.

At midnight the plan for what to do next was announced. We were going to go back to Oprah’s studio to catch her when she was driving in for her live show at 9am.  What we were going to do was an good old fasioned peacful demonstration. We were going to get there before her and surround the studios shoulder to shoulder with nothing but our peace signs extended in the air and some banners that stated that we just wanted 5 minutes of her time. She usually gets to work at about 6am and we were an hour drive away with enough vehicles for 250ish people but 500+ people to transport. This meant an early morning. It was time to go to sleep for 2 hours to wake up at 2am to get moving. These people have been out here for 5 days but when it was announced that we would be waking up at 2am to go show Oprah whats up, people cheered because they were so excited. It was ridiculous.

Morning came and it was time to drive back to the studios. I got there at about 3:30am with the first half of the group and we got into place. Standing in the cold at 4 in the morning just waiting.

1-221-211-25

 We were out there for a few hours just waiting and the police came to see what was going on which, in my opinion, made it better.

1-27

 At about 7am the three founders of the organization were brought inside the building. Oprah saw us and wanted to know whats up. They came out and they were so stoked. She was considering working something out so they came back outside and did a live update to let people know what was going on.

1-26

They went back inside to talk out some details with Oprah and they came back out even more excited than before. Oprah was going to give us a live spot on her show to tell the world what was going on. Everyone was freaking out but we were trying to remain calm and peacful…but LIVE… ON OPRAH!

1-281-301-311-32

1-33

After all that crazyness we were just waiting around for the show to start. The police ended up realizing that we weren’t doing anything stupid and blocked off the streets for us so everyone could be in the street during the filming. Here are some shots from the actual filming

1-361-371-381-40

The filming was awesome. As soon as the filming was over people just went nuts. The five nights of no sleep, the 17 hour overnight drives, the wet clothes, the sore feet, the cold… it all paid off. People were crying, screaming and laughing. I was lucky that I had my camera to hide my face because I had some tears for sure. Everyone was blown away. Here are some more shots from the crazyness.

1-421-441-49-copy1-411-341-431-501-51

Long story short that was one of the most unbelievable things I have ever been a part of. Go do something awesome. You won’t regret it. Below is the clip from the show:

  1. Together we are free! So epic.

  2. WOW, that is truly amazing. I am glad you got to experience it and had a great a time here in Chicago and drove those 17 hours and were on Oprah! How cool is that? I am glad you guys got what you want. perseverance!

  3. Dude AMAZING pictures.. what kind of camera do you have???

  4. just watching oprah from home felt so awesome, i’m glad you got to be there firsthand and document it for everyone

  5. I LOVE your black and white photos! You captured the excitement of that day beautifully! :)

  6. I wish I could have been there. I went to the one in Santa Monica, and while it was moving, I cannot even imagine what this was like!!! So glad that you guys stuck it out!!! I was so excited to watch Oprah that day!!

  7. Ben, these are so, so great, my friend. Love the style you’ve got going on.

  8. epic indeed. keep up the good work.

  9. Wow. Before Invisible Children I was definitely sleeping through a revolution. Not anymore. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your photos! And I totally woulda been in Chicago if I didn’t have work. You are awesome, Ben Sasso.

  10. Thanks so much guys! James- I shoot with a canon 5d and a 1d III.

  11. Ben, your pictures are so amazing.
    I think it’s really cool that you are so involved in IC (and that you were a roadie). So yeah, just wanted to let you know that you are super talented and that I appreciate your artistic view of the rescue.

  12. ughhhh YES. so amazing. great pics, great song and dance. wish i had been there. love you benji.

  13. Thank you so much for this play by play! So great! I love your video because it’s the only one I’ve seen that shows everyone…with the drummers and such. I was definitely one of the many live feed followers wishing I could be there for everything but I was for sure twittering it up for you guys. I can’t wait to see what progress this brings in Uganda.

  14. Amazing! So worth the drive and the school skipping. Breath taking photos. Would you be totally opposed to me copying a couple of them to my computer?

  15. I was watching online the entire time! I love the pictures. Great work.

  16. Ben, this is an amazing post. Brilliant.

  17. The photos are fantastic! I was at the London Rescue, and even though I was on the other side of the ocean, seeing all the photos makes me feel like I was there.

  18. super amazing pictures, even better story. hands down.

  19. This is amazing! I was at the London one, and it’s so amazing that knowing, even though I was the other side of the world, I was still a part of something this fantastic! Amazing photos, amazing story.

  20. These pictures are amazing :)
    I’m an aspiring photographer so hopefully I can capture some awesome moments like this one day!!

  21. Ben- My dad actually found this, but these photos show the Epic-ness of this event. Seriously. Amazing talent!! You captured the RAW emotion. Absolutely b.e.a.utiful!!

  22. Awesome! Thanks for posting on Twitter. I found my daughter in one of the group shots outside of Oprah’s the morning of the rescue. These are the best videos and photos I’ve seen yet – most everything else is either YouTube or from the live feed and not the best quality. Thank you, again, for recording this historical event for the Invisible Children!

  23. really amazing photographs that tell an incredible story. i want to do something awesome.

  24. Thank you so much for posting this for all of us to see! Fantastic photos, video and commentary! I was at the KC Rescue – I think I was the oldest one there. My nephew works for IC in San Diego and Uganda. A picture of mine is on the IC website – Kansas City, the little white dog with the “Rescue Me” sign around her neck. Gracie marched with me and stayed till the tornado sirens went off. I’m so proud of all the people who stuck it out, rain or shine, in so many cities! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

  25. Ben – We saw the spot on Oprah and we thought we saw some of the people wearing your shirts! We were SO EXCITED for all of you! This is SO AWESOME! HUGS! Desiree, Mike, & Georgia

  26. this was incredible.
    thank you.

  27. Ben, these are wonderful! I did The Rescue in O.C. :) Keep up the great work!

  28. you. are. incredible. this shots are fantastic. absolutely stunning.

back to posts

Want new posts and tips sent straight to your email?

yep!