The photographers needed all the help that they could find during the Hoover administration. President Herbert Hoover was a tough subject, harboring a nervous dislike of the cameras. “He had a rather square face with small features,” photographer George Harris remembered, “and he was not sufficiently interested in showing to good advantage to be helpful to the man behind the lens.” To some photographers, Hoover seemed as if he was afraid he was going to say something he was not supposed to say.
To photographer Johnny Di Joseph, the problem at the White House was not the president. “He was okay,” Di Joseph recalled. “It was his wife.” First lady Lou Henry Hoover was made an honorary member of the White House Press Photographers Association, too, but that did not make her the photographers’ friend. Di Joseph remembered that Mrs. Hoover had a rule that no photographer could come within fifteen feet of her husband to make a picture.
The president wore two-inch high collars with his shirts—Di Joseph called them “horse collars.” Mrs. Hoover did not like the way the president’s double chins fell over his collar, and she thought that keeping the photographers at a distance would prevent them from making closeup photographs emphasizing his weight.