This Time Next Year: The Presidential Inauguration!!!!

Hoover Congratulates Roosevelt before FDR's First Inauguration
Hoover Congratulates Roosevelt before FDR’s First Inauguration

Until the  Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution,  Inauguration Day was March 4th.  Of course, the Inauguration of the next president of the United States will take place on January 20th,2017.   

Photographers take their positions for FDR's First Inauguration
Photographers take their positions for FDR’s First Inauguration

Inaugurations have changed for photographers since FDR’s First Inauguration.  The Inauguration used to take place on the East Front of the United States Capitol.  Today it is held on the West Front. 

FDR's Forth Term Inaugural Speech From the White House News Photographers Association Files
FDR’s Forth Term Inaugural Speech
Harris and Ewing LOC

FDR’s forth Inauguration was the on the South Lawn of the White House.

The Carters and the Reagans on Inaugural day 1981 Photograph by Dennis Brack bb 27
The Carters and the Reagans on Inaugural day 1981
Photograph by Dennis Brack 

Part of the Inauguration ritual is the morning coffee with the outgoing and incoming president at the White House before the ride to Capitol Hill for the swearing in ceremony. 

Of course, the ceremony and then the Inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Inauguration Parade

The still photographers cover the Inauguration from the center camera stand at the 2009 Inauguration of Barak Obama. Photo by Dennis Brack
The still photographers cover the Inauguration from the center camera stand at the 2009 Inauguration of Barak Obama. Photo by Dennis Brack

Finally, the Inaugural Balls—

President H.W Bush , Bush 41, and Lee Atwater Photograph by Dennis Brack bb 27
President H.W Bush , Bush 41, and Lee Atwater
Photograph by Dennis Brack 

Yes We have all of this to look forward to one year from now.


  • Photographer Harry Van Tine and President Woodrow Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference

    Peace Treaty Meeting
    Peace Treaty Meeting

    In January 1919 President Woodrow Wilson’s traveled to the Paris Peace Conference to determine the borders of Europe after World War One.  Harry Van Tine of the National Photo Company accompanied President Wilson on the trip and made the photograph above.  On this trip Harry was treated almost as a member of the official presidential party. 

    Harry Van Tine photographing Elmer Johnson
    Harry Van Tine photographing Elmer Johnson

    Just a matter of months later, President Wilson had a major stroke and no one could get near President Wilson to determine his condition.  Of course, photographs were definitely out of the question. 

    Harry Van Tine and another photographer on top of the load of hay before going undercover.
    Harry Van Tine and another photographer on top of the load of hay before going undercover.

    That didn’t deter an aggressive Harry Van Tine.  One morning Harry and another photographer with their cameras at the ready  crawled in a wagon load of hay that was going to feed the sheep which were grazing on the South Lawn.  A Secret Service agent thought the hay was a bit lumpy and start to poke at the load.  They found Harry and friend—no Wilson pictures that morning. 


  • The Speed Graphic–More stories

    Graphic redSince the Speed Graphic is such an important part of the history of the photographers covering the  White House, a few more stories are in order.

    The beginning:

    George Eastman purchased Folmer and Schwing Manufacturing, a bicycle company that also made cameras, in 1905. Such a combination of products was not uncommon at that time. The 4×5 Speed Graphic camera was introduced in 1912.

    Waiting for Theordore Roosevelt at the North West Gate of the White House. credit Library of Congress.
    Waiting for Theordore Roosevelt at the North West Gate of the White House. credit Library of Congress.

    The camera contained a cloth curtain focal plane shutter and rail-based bellows mounted on a carriage that could be folded into a tight box.

    The Graflex was used before the Speed Graphic. It was a good camera for using long lenses.
    The Graflex was used before the Speed Graphic. It was a good camera for using long lenses.

    Improvements, such as a front leaf shutter and a sports finder, were added over the years, but the basic camera design never changed. In 1947 the company came out with the Pacemaker Graphic, which was the same camera without the focal plane shutter.

    4x5 cameraaThe 4×5 Speed Graphic was the sweetheart of press photographers for sixty years. 

    LOC
    LOC

    At one time sixteen of the twenty Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs were made with this bulky but durable picture-making machine.

    The Speed Graphic became the identifying symbol of the news photographer.

    White House photographers use their Speed Graphics in the Oval Office during the Truman years. Toward the end of a photo session (long before the term "Photo Opp" was used), President Truman would ask, "Finished" Always a photographer would say, just one more. Truman formed the "Just One More" club and he was always the president of the club.
    White House photographers use their Speed Graphics in the Oval Office during the Truman years. Toward the end of a photo session (long before the term “Photo Opp” was used), President Truman would ask, “Finished” Always a photographer would say, just one more. Truman formed the “Just One More” club and he was always the president of the club.

     The film was put into the back of the Speed Graphic with film holders and a slide would be pulled, much like the film holders in the Wet Plate Process. A photographer started the day with about ten film holders, each containing two sheets of film. Usually a photographer carried the holder in the camera and perhaps one holder in each coat pocket. Every exposure was important.

    During World War II the 4×5 Speed Graphic was used by military and news photographers.  The army made a combat Graphic but it came too late to cover the war.

     Combat Speed Graphic During World War II, the U.S. military adapted the classic press camera for use in the field. Olive drab instead of black, it was stripped of chrome and all nonessential parts. The lens was an Anastigmat Special F/4.7 127 mm. Photographers could make exposures from one to one-thousandth of a second long.Photo by Dennis Brack

    Combat Speed Graphic During World War II, the U.S. military adapted the classic press camera for use in the field. Olive drab instead of black, it was stripped of chrome and all nonessential parts. The lens was an Anastigmat Special F/4.7 127 mm. Photographers could make exposures from one to one-thousandth of a second long.Photo by Dennis Brack

    The Korean War was the last war to be covered using Speed Graphics.

    Max Desfor with his Speed Graphic in Korea. Max says that he used the focal plane shutter more than the compu shutter. He covered the Korean War using film packs. He would hand off his exposed film packs to make their way back to the AP darkroom and hopefully someone from the rear would bring new film packs.
    Max Desfor with his Speed Graphic in Korea. Max says that he used the focal plane shutter more than the compur shutter.
    He covered the Korean War using film packs. He would hand off his exposed film packs to make their way back to the AP darkroom and hopefully someone from the rear would bring new film packs.

  • 1895, The Lumiere brothers, Auguste and Louis,in Paris and the beginning of motion picture news.

    Video coverage of the presidents all began in France with the Lumiere Brothers.

     The Lumiere-cinematographe. This was a combination of a camera and a projector. This was the first practical camera that you could go out and make a movie and people did. Short ten to fifteen second slips of places and people around the world were made and collected. Photo by Dennis Brack

    The Lumiere-cinematographe. This was a combination of a camera and a projector. This was the first practical camera that you could go out and make a movie and people did. Short ten to fifteen second slips of places and people around the world were made and collected. Photo by Dennis Brack

      Auguste and Louis designed a motion picture camera that would be the first of the world of motion picture cameras.  What’s more,this camera could be converted into a movie projector by opening the camera, putting a focused light source  behind the lens area. and using the shutter mechanism to transport the film. 

    They wanted to make movies of the world and to gain the cooperation of towns,

    The inside of the Lumiere brothers camera
    The inside of the Lumiere brothers camerathey would film in a location, develop the film, turn the camera into a projector and show their movies of the people in the town that evening. 

    they would film in a location, develop the film, turn the camera into a projector and show their movies of the people in the town that evening.

    cropped-header-west-exec.jpg

    Fifteen years later motion picture cameramen began to take their place next to the stillmen covering the white House.  They worked with 35mm film which could be projected in the newsreels in the theaters across the nation.  No wonder these men were named “The Reels”

    The reels at the White House in 1945
    The reels at the White House in 1945

    Many changes and the 35mm celluloid has evolved to video tape and today, smart card disks.

    The video crews in the White House press briefing room
    The video crews in the White House press briefing room

  • FDR White House: The Roosevelt family Christmas photograph December, 25, 1939

    FDR Family Xmas celebration Harris & Ewing 12/25/39
    FDR Family Xmas celebration
    Harris & Ewing 12/25/39

    In response to many requests from the still photographers President Roosevelt agreed to pose for pictures to be made a three o’clock on Christmas Day.  The photographers, still photographers only, were to report to the White House usher.  They would be in position for the photograph in the East Room or they would be let in to the East Room after the president and family was seated.  It would be the president’s choice at the time.

    Several photographers and press associations were represented.  A close look at the photograph above shows that the family wasn’t quite settled, posed and ready for the picture.  It is my opinion, and only my opinion, that the Harris and Ewing photographer who covered the assignment was making a quick photograph right at the start of the session.  The photographers never knew what was coming next so it is smart to make a picture quickly and then “look for art” as Jim Atherton from United Press International used to say.  The photographers called it “Making a holder for the bag”  While the photographers in 1939 were using 4×5 holders and camera bags, the photographers covering the White House today will do the same thing—make a picture quickly as we enter the event.  There are a couple of changes today.  We don’t use film and we don’t carry camera bags.


  • The Preview of the White House Decorations, always a time for Photographers

    The White House Christmas tree as seen from the Grand Foyer of the White House. Photographed at a preview of the Christmas Decorations at the White House on December 2, 2015 Photo by Dennis Brack
    The White House Christmas tree as seen from the Grand Foyer of the White House. Photographed at a preview of the Christmas Decorations at the White House on December 2, 2015
    Photo by Dennis Brack

    In past administrations, the preview of the White House decorations was a great time for the photographers covering the White House.  After  we made our pictures of the decorations and the First Lady wishing everyone a Merry Christmas in front of the White House Christmas House, we stayed for a first class buffet and a little egg nog.

    Michelle Obama in front of the Ginger Bread house  at an event for the children of service members in the State Dining Room Photo by Dennis Brack
    Michelle Obama in front of the Ginger Bread house at an event for the children of service members in the State Dining Room
    Photo by Dennis Brack
    Press coverage of a preview of the Christmas Decorations at the White House on December 2, 2015 Photo by Dennis Brack
    Press coverage of a preview of the Christmas Decorations at the White House on December 2, 2015
    Photo by Dennis Brack

     

     

    Things have changed. The buffet is now a quick cider and cookies out on the North Portico, but the photographs are still fun to make.

    A young man gives Michelle Obama a gift at an event for the children of service members. The dog is Bo. Photo by Dennis Brack
    A young man gives Michelle Obama a gift at an event for the children of service members. The dog is Bo.
    Photo by Dennis Brack

    This years event was for the children for service members.  Cute young men and women and a beautiful First Lady and a photographer can’t miss.


  • A WRIGHT BROTHERS PLANE MAY BE RESTORED

    A Wright Brothers airplane piloted by Harry Attwood takes off from the South Lawn.  Photo: George Harris
    A Wright Brothers airplane piloted by Harry Attwood takes off from the South Lawn. Photo: George Harris

    Photographer George Harris captured a Wright Brothers plane taking off from the South Lawn of the White House in July  1911.  The pilot was Harry Attwood

    Attwood at the controls before take off. Photo by George Harris
    Attwood at the controls before take off. Photo by George Harris

    and he had flown the plane from Boston to Washington.   The Wright Experience based in Warrenton, Virginia is attempting to raise 4 million dollars for the project.

    The historic photograph was made by George Harris using a camera that used 5×7 glass plates.  George Harris partnered with Bunnie Ewing to form Harris and Ewing, an important photo news organization that documented the presidents and the history of the United States for the first half of the last century.

    There is a chapter on George Harris in PRESIDENTIAL PICTURE STORIES.  The following is the first few paragraphs of the chapter.

    George Harris posing Clifford Berryman--photgraph was made with a  8x10 dry plate
    George Harris posing Clifford Berryman–photgraph was made with a 8×10 dry plate

    “Mr. Harris,”  Teddy Roosevelt roared,  “I’m amazed.  That’s no kind of answer.  When anybody asks if you can do anything in photography, tell them ‘certainly I can.’ Then find a way to do it”.  George Harris had just told President Roosevelt that he wasn’t sure that he could take a photograph of the Roosevelt cabinet members in a tiny dark room of the White House.  George Harris made the photograph and continued to photograph Presidents Taft, Harrison, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, F.D. Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower.

    Harris& Ewing, is a photographer’s credit that you have seen since you were in high school looking at your American History text books.   George Harris was the photographer and  Martha “Bunnie” Ewing was the studio manager. Harris & Ewing was a first class photographic studio, a commercial photographic operation, and news photo syndicate that played a major part in Washington photographic history. 

    Harris began his career in Pittsburgh as a news photographer, and one of his first assignments was to cover the 1889 Johnstown flood.  In 1902, while working for Hearst News Service in San Francisco, his managing editor told him about the need for news photos of senators and congressmen in Washington, DC.   In 1905 he moved to Washington and opened Harris & Ewing Photographic News Service. 


  • Obama Hollande News Conference; a crush in the White House East Room

    President Barack Obama and President Francois Hollande of France hold a news conference in the East Room of the White House on November 24, 2015 Photo by Dennis Brack
    President Barack Obama and President Francois Hollande of France hold a news conference in the East Room of the White House on November 24, 2015  Photo by Dennis Brack

    As a president’s term or terms starts to approach it’s end, the press at news conferences decrease in attendance.Photo by Dennis Brack

    White House correspondents try to finish their intros just seconds before the presidents enter the East Room
    White House correspondents try to finish their intros just seconds before the presidents enter the East Room

     This was not the case today in the East Room of the White House.   Journalists wanted to hear anything that President Barack Obama and French President Francois Holande had to say.

    Andrew Harrer of Bloomberg sends a picture during the presidential remarks
    Andrew Harrer of Bloomberg sends a picture during the presidential remarks

     There was plenty of time for photographers to work, but  restricted movement due to the crowds.

     

    Every lens from a 17mm to a 600mm was used.
    Every lens from a 17mm to a 600mm was used.

     


  • Captain Florent A. Groberg, U.S. Army (Ret) receives the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry

    President Barack Obama presents Captain Florent A. Groberg, U.S. Army (Ret), the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Captain Groberg receives the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as a Personal Security Detachment Commander for Task Force Mountain Warrior, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division during combat operations in Asadabad, Kunar Province, Afghanistan on August 8, 2012. Photo by Dennis Brack
    President Barack Obama presents Captain Florent A. Groberg, U.S. Army (Ret), the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Captain Groberg receives the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as a Personal Security Detachment Commander for Task Force Mountain Warrior, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division during combat operations in Asadabad, Kunar Province, Afghanistan on August 8, 2012.
    Photo by Dennis Brack

    One of the times that the East Room of the White House is completely full of the nation’s finest is the presentation of the Medal of Honor.  This morning the ceremony was for a Captain who spotted a suicide bomber and ran straight for him.  He pushed the bomber away from the group that he was protecting and down to the ground.  The bomb exploded along with another bomb, but  he lived.  The top military brass is on the first two rows of the right side of the East Room and the Medal of Honors winners are on the right–a very elite group.

    The number of video and still photographers is greatly expanded because of the amount of military journalists who want to cover this story.  The entire back and side of the room is covered with ladders and tripods.  The White House press advance staff did an excellent job in making sure that the photographers were not blocked.

    Photo by Dennis Brack
    Photo by Dennis Brack

     


  • Ronald Reagan Presidential Library opened November in Simi Valley, California November 4, 1991

    Five presidents walk to the crowd waiting at the opening of the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California Photograph by Dennis Brack bb24
    Five presidents walk to the crowd waiting at the opening of the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California
    Photograph by Dennis Brack

    President George H.W. Bush and former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald R. Ford and Richard Nixon.  The first-ever gathering of five past and present U.S. chief executives was a chance for a history making photograph.  The Reagan advance staff  got together to produce the event and they did in their usual fashion—they did it perfectly.  The first thing they did was to ask their old friends, the news photographers who covered President Reagan, what would make the best photograph and was  the exact location for the best background and lighting.  We all chimed in and decided on a court yard towards the entrance of the library.    Wally McNamee, David Hume Kennerly, and I along with several other photographers were in position and waited.  And waited.  Turns out that the presidents were in the replica of the Oval Office and they had started telling presidential war stories about their experiences in their time in the Oval Office.  An aide stepped in to tell them that 3,000 guest were waiting for them and they told him to let them wait, and restarted their stories.  Finally, they came out and we made the historic photograph above.

    The day went perfectly, but it was warm and bright.  First Lady Pat Nixon felt ill and was not able to make the photo of the First Ladies.  We looked over to a small bench in the court yard and there was the First Lady.  President Nixon was seated beside her trying to comfort her. 

    After the official ceremony of the Reagan Library on November 4, 1991, the presidents were still there.  There was to be a formal photograph of all of the presidential wives, but Pat Nixon was not feeling well. She missed the photographic session and Pat and President nixon just sat over in the corner of the court yard quietly.  It was a very tender scene of a husband caring for the woman that he loved. Even if you were the most aggressive "Nixon hater" you would have been touched seeing this scene. Pat Nixon left the library in an ambulance.  Of course she recovered and lived for many years after November 1991. Photograph by Dennis Brack
    After the official ceremony of the Reagan Library on November 4, 1991, the presidents were still there. There was to be a formal photograph of all of the presidential wives, but Pat Nixon was not feeling well. She missed the photographic session and Pat and President nixon just sat over in the corner of the court yard quietly. It was a very tender scene of a husband caring for the woman that he loved. Even if you were the most aggressive “Nixon hater” you would have been touched seeing this scene. Pat Nixon left the library in an ambulance. Of course she recovered and lived for many years after November 1991.
    Photograph by Dennis Brack