For four years, photographer Amanda Lucidon had a front row seat to the life of former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Serving as an on-staff photographer during President Obama's second term, Lucidon traveled to roughly 20 countries with the former first family.
"I felt like every day was memorable and inspirational," she tells CNBC Make It. "I got to travel to so many places in the world that I never thought I would see and being there with the president or Mrs. Obama was an incredible experience."
In her new book, "Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer," Lucidon shares a collection of 150 candid photos of Mrs. Obama along with personal reflections of her time as the only female photographer on staff.
Documenting everything from Mrs. Obama's interactions with people around the world, to the promotion of her "Let's Move" and "Let Girls Learn" initiatives, Lucidon says the biggest lesson she learned from one of her most influential bosses is the power of being fearless.
"Often times we don't try things because we are afraid we will fail," she says. "But having the courage to push yourself gives you the ability to reach new heights and to be proud that you accomplished something you weren't really sure you could do."
Prior to working with the Obamas, Lucidon was a freelance photographer in Washington, D.C. At a National Geographic event, she ran into White House photographer Pete Souza. Two years later, Lucidon says she received a phone call from Souza asking if she was interested in working as photographer for the Obama administration.
"I was quite sure he had the wrong Amanda," she said.
"I recognized that this was an incredible opportunity, but I was also thinking 'Why me?" says Lucidon, who had only met Souza once before the phone call. "How does this make sense for me? I'm not a political photographer."
Thinking back on the projects she had done around civil rights and discrimination, the 38-year-old said it clicked for her that the opportunity to document the first African-American president and first lady made complete sense.
"Of course I kept wondering if he had the right number, if he had the right person, and if I qualified, but then I realized the only way to answer was with one answer, and of course that was 'Yes.'"
Lucidon hopes that opening up about her own career journey will inspire someone else to dream bigger and reach new heights.
"I hope people recognize through my story that I felt I was an unlikely candidate to be in that role," she says. "Growing up in a low-income family where the arts or future education isn't talked about or encouraged, and to find myself in that situation, I hope other people see that it's possible to end up in the White House if they want to. Or as Mrs. Obama tells people, 'You can be the first lady or president, too.'"
Lucidon, who grew up outside of Philadelphia in a family with 10 kids, says the advice she would give young people today is to always be open to new challenges.
"Don't be afraid to try new things, even if it means you've failed, because that means you're growing," she says.
"It makes me really nervous and a little scared to get in front of the camera and share my story, but I know that I'm growing from the experience," she says. "I have to look that fear in the eye and say 'I know you're here fear, but I have to keep moving ahead.'"
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