Remote cameras are part of the coverage of wire service photographers covering the White House. During the pre-set for an event, the photographers would position the remote cameras behind the president to get a back shot or a photograph of the president walking into or out of the event. Today’s announcement of President Obama’s statement is a good example. AP, Reuters, and AFP positioned the remotes to the side of the flags, but they were seen by the television cameras on the back stand. The photographers moved their cameras out of the shot, but they were seen in the picture of the president and vice president walking down the colonnade.
Remotes are triggered by radios that work off of the flash synch of the camera,so the photographers can make remote photos at the same time that they are using their hand held camera.
A story from PRESIDENTIAL PICTURE STORIES tells of a time when remotes were triggered by infra red transmitters and receivers.
The White House florist and Nikon tech representative Ron Thompson talk about putting flowers in
the top of the wooden flowers pots and remote cameras at the state dinner. Photo: Dennis Brack.
In the story below, I used a Nikon infra red triggering device which triggered the Nikon cameras. When one camera fired, it triggered a second infra red triggering device, (on a different frequency), which triggered a 2000 Watt Dynamite strobe which was mounted at the top of a FicusTree. This was used to generate the large amount needed to override the television lights from the back of the room. Ron Thompson, the Nikon technical representative for Washington, helped a great deal on this. Ron was a master at making photographers look much better than they actually were. Nikon Professional Services does this same service all over the world today. Thank you Nikon!!! One last word. Ron also worked with various government undercover law enforcement agencies and he asked if I had any use for the “flower pots”. I didn’t and they had a second life housing surveillance cameras.
President Reagan giving a toast with the flower pot camera in the background. The 2000 watt strobe is mounted on a light stand on the back of the truck of the ficus tree extended to the to.p of the tree with the head bounce off of the ceiling of the State Dining Room. Photo: Dennis Brack.
A story from the book: Throughout her time as the first lady, Mrs. Reagan remembered the photographers who were on the early Reagan campaigns. Time magazine was doing a large story on a state dinner and one of the “must” photographs was a picture of the toasts. On all state dinners, the guests stood for the toasts, blocking the photographers in the back of the room. A solution was a remote camera mounted in a flower vase positioned behind the president. The only vase that would allow a hole for the camera was a six-sided wooden container. I cut a hole in each side and then sanded and painted the two vases white. On the afternoon of the dinner, Mrs. Reagan came into the State Dining Room to check on the final arrangements. I had the two vases in position for her approval before the White House florist arranged the flowers, which were planned for the top of the vases.
“Do we really have to do this?” she asked.
At that point Rex Scouten, the White House usher, said of course not. That could have been the end of the toast picture. As a last plea, I said that I had worked for six hours sanding and painting my flower pots. The first lady looked at the pots and then at me and said, “Okay, but don’t put any flowers in the vases.” The photograph worked and nobody noticed the containers—except for Howard Baker, the longtime senator from Tennessee and a chief of staff for Reagan. Baker who was an excellent photographer.