Photographers Covering Presidential Transitions

President Barack Obama and President Elect Donald Trump meeting in the Oval Office on November 10, 2016 Photo by Dennis Brack
President Barack Obama and President Elect Donald Trump meeting in the Oval Office on November 10, 2016
Photo by Dennis Brack

Each transition is unique.  It depends on the personalities of the presidents and the circumstances of the transition.  Photographs of the Obama Trump transition was one that the White House photographers were looking forward to.  It was an important picture and it could have gone many ways.  It could have been a disaster, but it wasn’t.  The press room was crowded with the regulars as well as photographers who had press credentials and managed to get through the security clearance and into the White House pressroom.  There was the usual crunch at the door. 

President Barack Obama and President Elect Donald Trump meeting in the Oval Office on November 10, 2016 Photo by Dennis Brack
President Barack Obama and President Elect Donald Trump meeting in the Oval Office on November 10, 2016
Photo by Dennis Brack

The pool was first and the regulars were right behind them,and then the “strap hangers” .  The White House staff kinda looked the other way after the pool went through the doors, the photographers who cover the White House everyday passed through, and that was it.  The Oval Office was crowded, but the stills and the video crews knew exactly where to go.  Everyone worked together and everyone got photos and video.

President Lyndon Johnson makes his first statement to the USA as president as Air Force One carrying the casket of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on November 22nd 1963. Photograph by Dennis Brack
President Lyndon Johnson makes his first statement to the USA as president as Air Force One carrying the casket of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on November 22nd 1963. Photograph by Dennis Brack

Other transitions were not as well planned.  On the night of November 22nd 1963 Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force base.  The casket carrying the body of President John F. Kennedy came off the plane and former First Lady Jacquelyn Kennedy climbed into the gray Navy Ambulance and slowly rolled away.  As a bit of an after thought  a light stand with microphones attached was set out and

Each transition is unique.  It depends on the personalities of the presidents and the circumstances of the transition.  Photographs of the Obama Trump transition was one that the White House were looking forward to.  It was an important picture and it could have gone many ways.  It could have been a disaster, but it wasn’t.  The press room was crowded with the regulars as well as photographers who had press credentials and managed to get through the security clearance and into the White House pressroom.  There was the usual crunch at the door.  The pool was first and the regulars were right behind them,and then the “strap hangers” .  The White House staff kinda looked the other way after the pool went through the doors, the photographers who cover the White House everyday passed through, and that was it.  The Oval Office was crowded, but the stills and the video crews knew exactly where to go.  Everyone worked together and everyone got photos and video.

Other transitions were not as well planned.  On the night of November 22nd 1963 Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force base.  After the casket carrying the body of President John F. Kennedy came off the plane, former First Lady Jacquelyn Kennedy climbed into the gray Navy Ambulance and slowly rolled away.  As a bit of an after thought  and light stand with microphone attached was set out and Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnston spoke to the nation for the first time as the president of the United States.

I think the President Johnson was very happy to turn the presidential responsibilities over the  Richard Nixon.  He had a long meeting with Nixon at his ranch and you could see that he felt that he was leaving the office in good hands on the November morning President elect Nixon visited the White House. 

Of course, the Nixon —Ford transition was very different.  A quick hand shake at the steps of Marine One, the series of waves and then the Nixon “Double Wammy”.   As the engines of Marine One churned and the red carpet was beginning to be rolled up, the nation and everyone on the South Lawn had their first look at Jerry Ford as their new president.

The Carters and Reagan met on the steps of the North Portico of the White House.  They had coffee and then traveled up Pennsylvania Avenue for the Inauguration. 

Most thought that the greeting of the President Elect and the First Lady would be similar to the photograph of  First Lady Barbara Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton, but that was not to be. 

Lyndon Baines Johnston spoke to the nation for the first time as the president of the United States.

President Lyndon Johnson meets with president elect Richard Nixon at the White House in November 1968
President Lyndon Johnson meets with president elect Richard Nixon at the White House in November 1968. Photo by Dennis Brack

I think the President Johnson was very happy to turn the presidential responsibilities over the  Richard Nixon.  He had a long meeting with Nixon at his ranch and you could see that he felt he was leaving the office in good hands on the morning that President elect Nixon visited the White House. 

Of course, the Nixon —Ford transition was very different.  A quick hand shake at the steps of Marine One, the series of waves and then the Nixon “Double Wammy”  .  As the engines of Marine One churned and the red carpet was beginning to be rolled up, the nation and everyone on the South Lawn had their first look at Jerry Ford as their new president.

President and First Lady Ford walk away from Marine One with President Richard Nixon on board after Nixon resigned in August 1974. Photograph by Dennis Brack BBBs 20
President and First Lady Ford walk away from Marine One with President Richard Nixon on board after Nixon resigned in August 1974.
Photograph by Dennis Brack

The Carters and Reagan met on the steps of the North Portico of the White House.  They had coffee and then traveled up Pennsylvania Avenue for the Inauguration. 

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 bb 27

Most thought that the greeting of the President Elect and the First Lady would be similar to the photograph of  First Lady Barbara Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton, but that was not to be. 

Hillary Rodham Clinton visits the White House and First Lady Barbara Bush after the presidential election in November 1992. Photograph by Dennis Brack
Hillary Rodham Clinton visits the White House and First Lady Barbara Bush after the presidential election in November 1992.
Photograph by Dennis Brack