On Oct. 11, 1986, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev opened two days of arms negotiations in Reykjavik, Iceland. Warm smiles and waves at the start of the talks. The end of the talks were another matter. Long after the talks were supposed to end, the doors opened and President Reagan’s stern look told the photographers that they were about to make some important pictures. There was almost no light at the top of the steps, but the picture didn’t happen there. Reagan and Gorbachev walked to the cars where there was absolutely no light. It was a long throw and the 300mm f2.8 was the lens that the pool of seven photographers used.
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
. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes the excitement comes from the selection of the vice presidential nominee. In 1968 outside of Maryland, nobody had ever heard of Spiro Agnew.
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.
Regardless of the news value, the Republican Conventions are a good show.
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.
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.
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.
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!
NaiomI 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.
Stephen Crawley working on a “Crawleygram”
Cindy Campbell Brack at the office.
Nikki Kahn, Pat Benic and Patsy Lynch on the South Lawn
Ron Edmonds and friends on the center camera stand in 2009.
Scotty Applewhite and Kevin Lamarque
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.
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 by an Oval Office meeting with a working lunch in the cabinet room.
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 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.
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 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.
Harris and Ewing became a successful photographic agency which covered the White House for sixty years.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
The president and the president-elect ride to the Capitol for the swearing in ceremony.
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.
The 1961 Lincoln Continental that carried the Kennedys on November 22, 1963 had a long history of carrying presidents.
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 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.
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 Carter continued to use the convertible limousines on foreign trips. The parade in Alexandria, Eqypt was one of the best parades for photographs.
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.
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”.
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.