The 9 11 Memorial Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Memorial Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon on 9 11 16 photo by Dennis Brack
President Barack Obama at the Memorial Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon on 9 11 16  photo by Dennis Brack

The September 11th Memorial Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon was, as it has been in the past, a ritual for President Barack Obama.  After a  private observance in the  White House there was a  rapid motorcade to the Pentagon.  The pool got in to position to photograph the president positioning a wreath

President Barack Obama lays a wreath at the Memorial Observance Ceremony photo by Dennis Brack
President Barack Obama lays a wreath at the Memorial Observance Ceremony
photo by Dennis Brack

.  Photographers held for the president to take the stage and then were escorted into the buffer area.  This position allowed  us to photograph the president facing the flag on the Pentagon during the  playing of the National Anthem and o photograph Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford to make brief speeches before the President took the podium.

President Barack Obama with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. at the Memorial Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon on 9 11 16 photo by Dennis Brack
President Barack Obama with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr photo by Dennis Brack

This position was perfect for photographing the people in the front rows watching and reacting to the remarks by President Obama. Unfortunately it would have been disturbing to ask for their names.

Guests on the front row of a 9 11 Pentagon ceremony listens to President Barack Obama deliver remarks at the Memorial Observance Ceremon photo by Dennis Brack
Guests on the front row of a 9 11 Pentagon ceremony listens to President Barack Obama. photo by Dennis Brack

The photographers asked the advance person to get the names after the event.  She begrudgingly said that there would be an information email coming.  No email was received.  Hey, there are some great advance staff and some not so great advance staff persons.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with guests at the Memorial Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon on 9 11 16 photo by Dennis Brack
President Barack Obama shakes hands with guests at the Memorial Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon on 9 11 16 photo by Dennis Brack

After his remarks President Obama went down to the crowd and began to shake hands.  Before  he got to any of the interesting people on the front row, the advance person told us that we had to load the motorcade.  We sat in the vans for a good ten minutes.  There would have been plenty of time to stay to make some memorable photographs.

President Barack Obama at the Memorial Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon on 9 11 16 ISP Pool Dennis Brack/Black Star
President Barack Obama at the Memorial Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon on 9 11 16
Photo by  Dennis Brack

 


  • Republican Conventions: A combination of political excitement and sometimes predictable boredom.

    A balloon drop at the Republican Convention in New Orleans in 1988. Photograph by Dennis Brack bb33
    A balloon drop at the Republican Convention in New Orleans in 1988.
    Photograph by Dennis Brack bb33

    The Republican Conventions for the past  fifty years have been a combination of political excitement  and sometimes predictable boredom.  The photographers covering the White House are usually in the key positions to cover these events.  For years the center stand position for the Associated Press was manned by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Edmonds. 

    The Center Camera Stand during the Democratic Convention in New York in 1980 Photograph by Dennis Brack bs b 17
    The Center Camera Stand during the Democratic Convention in New York in 1980
    Photograph by Dennis Brack bs b 17

    This year Scotty Applewhite will be on the AP  center stand and no doubt there will be hundreds of photographs with the credit J. Scott Applewhite, AP.

    For the last two days photographers have been busy mounting remote cameras on poles to the side and behind the speakers.  Cameras are also positioned on the catwalks overhead to  get  new overall photographs.  These remotes have come a long way.  The Canon camera loans their latest remote cameras that will zoom and pan to various wire services. 

     Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew at the Republican Convention in 1972 PHOTO BY DENNIS BRACK B 5

    Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew at the Republican Convention in 1972
    PHOTO BY DENNIS BRACK B 5

    Sometimes the excitement comes from the selection of the vice presidential nominee.  In 1968 outside of Maryland, nobody had ever heard of Spiro Agnew. 

    Vice President candidate Dan Quayle speaks as candidate Vice President HW Bush watches at a rally the day after the Republican Convention in August 1988. This photograph was the cover of TIME magazine that week. Photograph by Dennis Brack bb 27
    Vice President candidate Dan Quayle speaks as candidate Vice President HW Bush watches at a rally the day after the Republican Convention in August 1988. This photograph was the cover of TIME magazine that week.
    Photograph by Dennis Brack bb 27

    Likewise in New Orleans, we were are lined up and waiting for a Mississippi paddlewheel  to dock so that we could find a fellow named Dan Qualye.

     Nixon supporter at the Republican national Convention in 1972 Photo by Dennis Brack b11

    Nixon supporter at the Republican national Convention in 1972
    Photo by Dennis Brack b11

    Regardless of the news value, the Republican Conventions are a good show.

    W Clemment Stone at Republican Convention in 1972 PHOTO BY DENNIS BRACK B 5
    W Clemment Stone at Republican Convention in 1972
    PHOTO BY DENNIS BRACK B 5

    Millionaires like W. Clement Stone arrive in their million dollar yachts.  There usually  is no shortage of beautiful ladies.

    Of course,  there are folks that are there to protest and that is a major part of the  convention story.

    Often there are Republicans who the  Republican leadership would like to forget.  When asked why Sarah Palin was not speaking at the convention, Trump relied  “It’s a little bit difficult because of where she is. We love Sarah. Little bit difficult because of, you know, it’s a long ways away.”

    Often they bring back their heroes. 

     President George W. Bush talks with his father after the president's speech to the Republican National Convention in New York, NY on September 2, 2004. Photograph by Dennis Brack

    President George W. Bush talks with his father after the president’s speech to the Republican National Convention in New York, NY on September 2, 2004. Photograph by Dennis Brack

    The convention loved Bush 41 and Bush 43 on the  floor together in New York 2004.

    No heroes are coming to Cleveland for this week’s convention.  The action will most likely take place on the streets. 

    Demonstration during the 1972 Republican Convention PHOTO BY DENNIS BRACK B 5
    Demonstration during the 1972 Republican Convention
    PHOTO BY DENNIS BRACK B 5

  • The Friends in “Lately”

    So, What have you done—Lately?  A question often asked to photographers.

    For me,  It is a search for really valuable photographs. No I’m not searching for world leaders, historic events that I have covered.  I open boxes of  transparencies with the hope that I made a few frames of my friends and competitors.  In the sixties, personal pictures were easy.  Everyone would make pictures, develop them and make a few prints to give to friends.  With color we lost control of our film.  We would ship the undeveloped rolls to New York where they would be edited by a series of editors who could sometimes be a little picky.  Personal pictures were seldom of these rolls. Hey, you didn’t want the editors to see how much fun you were having.

    Lately 1

    Interns Dennis Brack and Tucker Henry in the photo office of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS.  FYI, they made the woodcut engravings of the newspapers photos in the room next door

    Charlie Tasnadi, AP, with Fidel Castro on visit to Cuba in 1975.  It was one of the first trips to Cuba by Americans and we were granted visas to cover Senator McGovern’s visit.  Barbara Walters was part of the press.  I think that Fidel was more interested in Barbara Walters than Senator McGovern

    Roddy Mims and press wrangler, (we didn’t call them wranglers back then,I think we called them friends), at a party for the Reagan press covering President Reagan on vacation in Santa Barbara.

    Joe Holloway jr,  Chick Harrity, George Tames, Joe Marquette, Dennis Brack on the outskirts of Plains, Georgia in 1975.

    Larry Downing at Windsor Castle waiting  for Queen Elizabeth and Ronald Reagan.

    The seventies brought small cameras for “Happy Snaps”  The middle picture is not a happy snap, but it is my most cherished.  It was made on a Ford trip in New Orleans.  Kennerly  handed his Leica to a young lady who dreamed of being a photographer and she made the picture.  She did a great job!

    Lately Panel 2a copyNaiomI Nover in her blue dress and ready for battle!

    Photographers having coffee and  Beignets at Cafe Du Monde before boarding a paddlewheel riverboat to cover the campaign of President Ford on the Mississippi; Wally McNamee, Charlie Tasnadi,Paul Slade,Bob Sherman, David Burnett,Dennis Brack, David Hume Kennerly, Dirck Halstead,

    Electrician Marvin Purbaugh in Kennebunkport, Maine during a vacation that President H. W. Bush to his home in Kennebunkport

    With digital we regain control of our images. Personal pictures are plentiful.  It is my hope that everyone will preserve them, so they can have the delight of looking back at their friends from decades past.

    Panel 3 for webStephen Crawley working on a “Crawleygram”

    Cindy Campbell Brack at the office.

    Nikki Kahn, Pat Benic and Patsy Lynch on the South Lawn

    Rodney Batten

    Bentzen Ginburg

    Ron Edmonds and friends on the center camera stand in 2009.

    Scotty Applewhite and Kevin Lamarque


  • The Visits

    Prime Minister Modi of India. arrives at the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama on 6/7/16 photo by Dennis Brack
    Prime Minister Modi of India. arrives at the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama on 6/7/16
    photo by Dennis Brack

    There are all sorts of  grades of  White House  hospitality extended to heads of state.  The largest is the official visit with an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn.

    Prime Minister Modi of India. arrives at the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama on 6/7/16 ISP photo Dennis Brack/Black Star
    Prime Minister Modi of India. arrives at the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama

     

    Since the Obama administration’s first  State Visit was for the Prime Minister of India a few years ago, the visit by Indian Prime Minister Modi was  a North Lawn Honor guard followed byBrack 6 7 16 an Oval Office meeting with a working lunch in the cabinet room.

     

     

    President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Modi of India in the Oval Office on 6/7/16 Photo by Dennis Brack
    President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Modi of India in the Oval Office on 6/7/16
    Photo by Dennis Brack
    President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Modi of India in the Oval Office on 6/7/16 ISP Pool Dennis Brack/Black Star
    President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Modi of India in the Oval Office on 6/7/16  Dennis Brack

    While this was it was just another day for the White House press, it was a big deal for the members of the Modi press corps. Things got a bit hyper, but everyone got their pictures.


  • The Best Grass in the USA–most of the time.

    North Lawn mowing2The North and South lawn of the White House has the richest green grass that you can find anywhere in the nation.  After all it is a national park and the Department of Interior has detailed many employees to make sure that every inch is perfect.  In the fall large new machines are busy aerating, seeding and doing all of the right things to make the lawn a showcase.  In the spring, other machines return while giant mowers cut the lawn to the proper height.

    President Barack Obama walks over the weak grass on the South Lawn as he departs the White House en route Joint Base Andrews on 5/15/16. This bare spot in the well kept South Lawn was due to the positioning of a tent for a recent White House event. ISP Photo by Dennis Brack/Black Star
    President Barack Obama walks over the weak grass on the South Lawn as he departs the White House en route Joint Base Andrews on 5/15/16.  Photo by Dennis Brack

    There is one spot on the South Lawn that does not have the luck of the other lawn sections.  This is the space where the tents are positioned for major White House events.  The grounds keepers will attempt to revive the grass that is no doubt dead after a week or two without the sun, but finally they will give up.  Truck loads of beautiful new sod will take this high profile section of the lawn until the next tent event.


  • President Theodore Roosevelt Loved the Cameras

    A photograph of President Theodore Roosevelt by George Harris
    A photograph of President Theodore Roosevelt by George Harris

    President Theodore Roosevelt loved the cameras and encouraged the men behind them.  In San Francisco he meet a young George Harris and  told  him that he would have a great future if he brought his photography business to Washington, DC. Harris followed TR’s advice, partnered with “Bunny” Ewing and formed Harris and Ewing.

    George Harris at work
    George Harris at work

      Harris and Ewing became a successful photographic agency which covered the White House for sixty years.


  • Tommy Craven and the Hindenburg disaster

    Hindenburg disaster 2The first  arrivals of the dirigible Hindenburg at Lakehurst, New Jersey were big stories.  As time passed they became old news, but they still had to be covered to photograph the important newsmakers arriving on the  airship.  The news camera crews would set their cameras on tripods in position and then go to a local bar for a drink.  The Paramount  crew usually left a young member  to stand by the tripods just to make sure that no equipment was taken.  On May 6, 1937 the young crew member was Tommy Cravens.  Young Tommy turned the camera on just before the explosion. Then history happened.  Tommy got it all and suddenly he had an extremely depressing thought:  He had forgotten to set the F stop on the lens and his film could be completely useless due the wrong exposure.  Fortunately, the camera had been set for a daylight story that the crew had completed that afternoon and the exposure was perfect.

    Cravens 2

    Tom Craven came to Washington and covered the White House for Movieton news.  He son, Tom Jr. went to work for CBS and  the two Irishmen always had a wisecrack to share with President Eisenhower.  The president would look around and if one of the Cravens was missing, he would ask “Where’s Junior” or Where’s Senior”  Many years later Tom Craven Jr. would be in the camera car in Dallas on November 22, 1963.


  • Presidential Limousines

    The Lincoln Carriage
    The Lincoln Carriage

     

    Before presidents traveled in limousines, they rode in carriages.  The  carriage above  carried  President Lincoln,  Mary Todd Lincoln, Major Henry Rathbone, and his fiancée Clara Harris to Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865.  Robert Lincoln, the president’s son, sold the carriage  shortly after his father’s assassination.

    President Wilson takes a drive. Photograph by Harris & Ewing LOC
    President Wilson takes a drive. Photograph by Harris & Ewing LOC

    After  his stroke President Woodrow Wilson used to take a drive in his presidential limousine.  The White House maintained that the ride was a help in his stroke recovery, but the real reason was for the photographers to make  pictures of a president that no one had seen in public for months.  The photographs were to show  the American public that their president was a well and able leader, but everyone could see that Woodrow Wilson was a very sick man.

    As part of the inauguration proceedings, it is a tradition for the president- elect to come to the White House and have coffee. 

    President Hoover congratulates President Roosevelt sitting in a presidential limousine. Photo by Harris and Ewing
    President Hoover congratulates President Roosevelt sitting in a presidential limousine. Photo by Harris and Ewing

    The president and the president-elect ride to the Capitol for the swearing in ceremony.

    President Truman and Queen Elizabeth II in a presidential Limousine
    President Truman and Queen Elizabeth II in a presidential Limousine

    Before the Kennedy administration the arrival ceremonies for visiting dignitaries were held on the tarmac  of Washington National Airport.  President Truman and  Princess Elizabeth ride in the presidential limousine in 1951.

    Presidential Limousine in front of the Texas School Book Depository Building at the time of the assassination Photograph: Warren Commission
    Presidential Limousine in front of the Texas School Book Depository Building at the time of the assassination
    Photograph: Warren Commission

    The  1961 Lincoln Continental  that carried the Kennedys on November 22, 1963 had a long history of carrying presidents. 

    Photograph of the Presidential Limousine Photograph: Warren Commission
    Photograph of the Presidential Limousine
    Photograph: Warren Commission

    After November 22nd the Lincoln was driven back to Washington, DC for investigation.  Later is was armored, fitted with a solid roof and  put back into service.  It was used by presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford.

    Presidential Limo being loaded onto the car plane after a Presidential visit Photo by Dennis Brack
    Presidential Limo being loaded onto the car plane after a Presidential visit
    Photo by Dennis Brack

    Presidential limousines are loaded on jets to carry presidents on foreign trips.  President Nixon was happy for the protection of the limousine during a demonstration during his limit to Rome in 1969.

    Demonstrators and President Nixon Limo during his visit to Rome , Italy March 1, 1969 Photograph by Dennis Brack
    Demonstrators and President Nixon Limo during his visit to Rome , Italy March 1, 1969
    Photograph by Dennis Brack

    During the campaign of 1976, President Ford found that the trappings of presidential power, Air Force One and the presidential limousine, were the things that would draw crowds. 

    President and Betty Ford at a parade in Traverse City Michigan July 1975 Photograph by Dennis Brack
    President and Betty Ford at a parade in Traverse City Michigan July 1975
    Photograph by Dennis Brack

    President Carter continued to use the convertible limousines on foreign trips.  The parade in Alexandria, Eqypt was one of the best parades for photographs.

    President Jimmy Carter visits Anwar Sadat in Egypt. Photo by Dennis Brack
    President Jimmy Carter visits Anwar Sadat in Egypt.
    Photo by Dennis Brack
    Amy Carter sticks her head out of the presidential limo during a parade in Monorvia, Liberia. Photograph by Dennis Brack bb 27
    Amy Carter sticks her head out of the presidential limo during a parade in Monorvia, Liberia.
    Photograph by Dennis Brack bb 27
    A Secret Service agent on the security "Black Miraha" trail limo in April 1976 Photo by Dennis Brack
    A Secret Service agent on the security “Black Miraha” trail limo in April 1976
    Photo by Dennis Brack

    The prize for the longest parade has to go to Liberia.  The Carters got tired of waving to the unending crowds, so they let their daughter Amy do the honors.

    The open limousines ended in the Reagan administration.

    Presdient and First Lady Nancy Reagan arrive in New York City in October 1988 Photograph by Dennis Brack
    Presdient and First Lady Nancy Reagan arrive in New York City in October 1988
    Photograph by Dennis Brack

    Visitors have to catch a brief view of  presidents and their families as seen through super bullet proof windows of the limousine.  Today a common name for the president’s limousine is “The Beast”.   

    The Inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington, DC on January 20, 2009. Photograph: Dennis Brack
    The Inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington, DC on January 20, 2009. Photograph: Dennis Brack
    President George W. Bush in the Presidential Limousine leaves the presidential garage entrance of the Washington Hilton Hotel after the 56th National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. on February 7, 2008. Photo by Dennis Brack
    President George W. Bush in the Presidential Limousine leaves the presidential garage entrance of the Washington Hilton Hotel after the 56th National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. on February 7, 2008. Photo by Dennis Brack

  • Picture Day for the White House News Photographers Association “Eyes of History” contest winners.

    Jacquelyn Martin takes a group photo of the winners as they are lined up in the White House Press Briefing Room in the order that each will greet President Obama. Photo by Dennis Brack
    Jacquelyn Martin takes a group photo of the winners as they are lined up in the White House Press Briefing Room in the order that each will greet President Obama. Photo by Dennis Brack

    Since the FDR administration, the president has taken the time to look at the prizewinning pictures of the White House News Photographers Association and  pose for a group photograph.  Still and video photojournalists and editors put on their best dark suits for the relatively quick photo session.  While I have had the task as WHNPA president of introducing each winner to the president in the past, this year a new WHNPA  president did the honors.

    The  WHNPA 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Rodney Batten, NBC gives a thumbs up to the other winners.  Heidi Elswick, WHNPA general manager, is on right. Photo by Dennis Brack
    The WHNPA 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Rodney Batten, NBC gives a thumbs up to the other winners. Heidi Elswick, WHNPA general manager, is on right. Photo by Dennis Brack

  • Lincoln assassinated April 14, 1865

    Photo by Dennis Brack
    Photo by Dennis Brack
     The presidential box of Ford's Theater. The place where President Lincoln was shot by John Willkes Booth. Photo by Dennis Brack

    The presidential box of Ford’s Theater. The place where President Lincoln was shot by John Willkes Booth. Photo by Dennis Brack

    Wash-Lincoln-in-boxIn 1865, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer, fatally shoots President Abraham Lincoln at a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.

    Photographer Mathew Brady was not there to cover the event.  Since it was impossible to photograph news events or any other  event in this low light, (this was before flash powder), there was very little that he could do to preserve this vital part of history. Lincoln by Brady Brady did a great deal to preserve the history of President Lincoln.  First he helped elect the president.  A quote by Lincoln, “Mathew Brady’s picture and my  Cooper Union  speech made me president of the United States, (click the Lincoln photograph on the right for the full story)

    The Peterson House the house where Lincoln died.Washington, DC  photo by Dennis Brack
    The Peterson House the house where Lincoln died.Washington, DC photo by Dennis Brack

    Lincoln was taken across the street to the Peterson House where is died and Ford’s Theater was closed.  Days after it was closed, Mathew Brady made pictures.  The theater was used as a government office and ware house for years.  Mathew Brady’s photographs were the basis of the restoration of the  Ford’s Theater that is an important part of history.

    The Presidential box where John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln  at Ford's Theater in Washington, DC Photo by Dennis Brack
    The Presidential box where John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC
    Photo by Dennis Brack