tv Photographing the Presidents CSPAN January 1, 2019 10:56am-12:39pm EST
history tv," only on c-span 3. >> you're watching "american history tv" where every weekend we explore our nation's past. all of the programs we air are archived on our website. this holiday weekend we're featuring our most watch ed programs of 2018. one of those is coming up next. next on american history tv, three former white house photographers on their work with presidents bill clinton, george w. bush and barack obama. they share photos showing presidents in their public and private moments and the stories behind each scene. et we see first families. the annenberg space for photography hosted this discussion. it is an hour and 40 minutes.
>> good evening, everyone. how's everyone doing tonight? excellent. glad to hear it. my name is ava, and i am the education and public programs manager here at the annenberg space for photography. welcome to this evening's event, photographing the president, which is part of our public programming roster in support of our newest exhibition, "not an ostrich." this exhibition tells the story of american's history through photography through the archives of the library of congress, many of which have never before been exhibited. these tell the stories that shaped american history, both the well known and less well known. nothing shapes the narrative of what america represents domestically and internationally like the president of the united states.
tonight we are so lucky to welcome to the stage three photographers who have worked as official photographers of the white house during the past three administrations. these three photographers have been in the room where it happens and they have the photographs to prove it. we'll hear from them what it was like working alongside the president during the big moments and the small ones. joining us to moderate that discussion is slate's jamal buoy. he is a chief political correspondent for "slate" magazine and political analyst for cbs news. he covers campaigns, elections and national affairs. his work has appears either online, in print at "the new yorker," "the washington post," the nation and other publications. he's from virginia beach, virginia and attended the university of virginia where he graduated with degrees in political and social thought and government. please join me in welcoming jamel to the stage, as well as photographers sharon farmer,
eric draper and lawrence jackson. [ applause ] >> hello there. thank you for coming out. i'm going to introduce our wonderful panelists. to my immediate right, sharon farmer. sharon's been a professional photo journalist and exhibition photographer for more than 40 years. shooting news stories, political campaigns, cultural events, conferences and portraits. most notably, sharon was the first african-american woman to be hired as white house photographer, as well as the first african-american -- [ applause ] >> -- as well as the first african-american and first woman to become director of the white house photography office. [ applause ]
>> she served as director of the white house photography office from 1999 to 2001 and as a white house photographer from 1993 document being the beginning of the clinton-gore administration. next to sharon, eric draper. eric -- [ applause ] >> eric served as president george w. bush's chief white house photographer for the entire eight years of bush's presidency. yes. photographing him daily during his activities at the office, abroad, and in his personal life. draper was eventually named special assistant to the president and is the first white house photographer to be named a commissioned officer to a u.s. president. [ applause ] >> during his tenure, eric also directed the photographic and archival conversion of the white
house photo office from film to digital. took nearly 1 million photos documenting the presidency. [ applause ] >> and last, but certainly not least, is lawrence jackson. i said certainly. certain not. [ applause ] >> lawrence served his career working at the virginian pilot for years before joining the associated press in boston. in 2002 he covered capitol hill, the white house and major sports teams for seven more years. in march of 2009 he became an official white house photographer under the obama administration where he stayed until january 2017. in march of 2017 he started his freelance photography business covering editorial, corporate and portrait photography. >> so we have a lot of photos.
before we get to those, i just kind of want to ask a general question to the panelists. in your bio, it says when you became white house photographers. but i'm curious, and i'm sure the audience is curious to know, how you became white house photographers. just if you could talk a little bit about how you got to that position. >> you mean what we ate and drank? >> yes. >> my parents always had a camera in the house. we got clean to go to church, it was a miracle for me. because staying neat a long time was not my thing. and i'd rather play music. so i played clarinet and basoon in the house. my mother would go, you look lovely. i'm not paying her any mind.
i'm practicing getting those scales down. but i became a photographer because i went to the dark room one day with my buddy from the football team at ohio state university. it was like alchemy. magic. i'm like, love my music but this is very interesting. so that's how i got started. >> so what was the path from discovering the magic of the dark room to photographing the clinton-gore administration? >> being an activist. i have an fbi record, i say with pride. pride! pride. because if you don't stand up for something, you're going to get done in by everything. [ applause ] >> i'm clear that photography was the activist kind of thing to do. and we had demonstrations on the campus of ohio state because things were going on. you have less than 300 black students on campus out of 40,000. and you want to card us for our passes getting on and off the jitny bus? i've watching everybody else just come and go, come and go. michael white, president of afro am at the time said stop the
buses. i started working for a black student paper called "our choking times." i went on to be the editor. managing editor. really in charge. and the photographer. so we did all the things we're supposed to do to make it a democratic principle on campus. so that's what happened to me. the more you see injustice, the more you go? and thank heavens, my memories of the sorority, delta sigma theta sorority felt the same way i did. a lot of other students on campus. we made coalition with the white folk. they didn't like what was going on either. so one thing does lead to another. when you're taking pictures, and folks are telling you how well you're doing, you don't know. your teachers are telling you you're not doing well because you're not doing their class work. but by now i'm loose in the community.
i'm shooting everything in columbus, ohio, because i met a wonderful photographer of the neighborhood named valentine. he was just known by one name -- valentine. and he worked for everybody. did babies, did churches. i'm like, babies and churches? okay. so i did that, too. so the more stuff i did, the better i got at it. then i discovered i liked all that stuff. didn't matter what it was because it was photography. and as long as i could explore the campus is big, the city is big, i didn't miss a beat! and, plus, do you know taking pictures is fun? real fun! so, the idea of working in the field, that you get paid for? i've already died and gone to heaven. okay? and i still play my music. my dining room is a music room at home. we get crazy in there. we jam and throw down. so when you do stuff with good
people, good things keep happening. sharon, take my picture. sure! and -- hey, sharon, shoot this sunday school. sure, yes, i'll be at sunday school. i shot this guy's sunday school class. few years later, i got this great job. i need a great photographer. it paid me $5,000 a day. you don't know what you do until you do it. then kind is the best thing we can all do for each other. be kind. that's what happened. [ applause ] >> i didn't think i had an fbi record when i started, but i hope -- i don't, no, actually. my story began without even knowing that i would end up in the white house. through my background, i was a newspaper photographer. i was also a photographer of the associated press for eight years covering every store you can think of, from campaigns to sports. and the 2000 campaign rolls around. basically it began as an assignment.
i was the last one to get the assignment. you're covering texas governor george w. bush. said, okay, let's do it. but actually, my desire to pursue the white house didn't really start until after the election. you might remember the recount? yeah. i blame everything on the recount. because if the election was decided that night, i don't think i would have ever earneded up in the white house because during the recount is when i decided to pursue the position. the more i discovered, the more i realized i actually had a shot at it. they say timing is everything? so all the planets were aligned, all the signs were green and i had the opportunity to ask president-elect bush for the job. i discovered i was invited to a christmas party in austin, texas. i said, okay, i need to make my direct pitch for the job. so what i did was, at the party, my wife was there and she was coaching me on the sidelines when for make my move.
and i walked up to him and i said, thank you for inviting us to the party. by the way, i want to be your personal photographer. and i didn't blink. and he looked at me like he never really thought about it before. he looked away. he said i really appreciate that. there i am back in austin, texas for the interview. and andy card, the chief of staff, pretty much offered me the job on the spot. the first question he said to me was, can you manage? i said -- yes. i hadn't managed anything, by the way. [ laughter ] >> and -- but i'll never forget what he told me. he said working at the white house is like trying to drink water through a firehose at full throttle. and he was right. >> lawrence? >> how did i get the job at the
white house? i originally applied to be chief photographer, like these guys did. and i did not get it. much to my chagrin. but pete had my portfolio once he was named chief photographer. and he called me up and said, hey, i've got your portfolio here. do you want to work for this administration? and i was like, sure. and that was it. pretty simple. >> did you -- was there anything that prompted you to want to be -- >> well, yeah. i tell the story of election night. i was covering bush at the white house for the ap. and barack obama beat john mccain for the presidency and i go out to the lafayette park and all these college kids are celebrating and chanting and it's just this energy to the whole thing. i was just like transfixed by it. i just -- i was leaving home that night -- or going home that night. i just said to myself, if i can work with this president, i'm
going to do it. so i told my wife i was going to apply. i applied. and they said yes -- or pete said -- i didn't get it. pete said, well, i want you to work for me. but it is funny because he said the job pays this much. and i was like, how much? he says this much. and i had to go back to my wife and say, look, it pays less than what i currently make at the ap. she's like, well, i'll get a job. i'll get a job. you're taking this job. so if it weren't for my wife -- i love you, honey. [ applause ] >> so we're going to go through the photos we have here, we'll chat about them, have some discussion. and after all that, we'll go to the audience for some questions. the first photo here -- i think -- you took this one. >> i did. >> i wasn't sure who took this. all right. so can you just say what's happening in this photo. >> that is on -- forget the name of the helicopter. marine -- the respect pilots were doing test runs because they were getting their rating to land on the south lawn. and they invited us to -- the
photo office to participate and take pictures of it. so i -- we did like four or five, make six touch downs in the south lawn, took off, kind of circled around the city. this is what they see every time they come in for the approach and the landing. >> for you, sharon, eric, i'm sure you took similar photos to this. >> not in the cockpit. >> it's interesting, i took the exact same photo probably like four years earlier. but i mean, it's an incredible view. it's only one of a kind. >> a million dollar view. >> it is incredible. >> well, that was mine. it's always just fun to try to figure out where to be before everybody starts. nobody's trying to direct me what to do.
so i got to figure it out. but i'm always looking for composition. i never forget about what makes strong photography because you're only as good as your last picture. that's as good as you are. so i'm always moving around because i not only have the peers that i work with who are journalists photographers and videographers, but i have my crew. so the head photographer when we started was bob mcnealy, barbara kinney and me. we're having a blast just competing with each other taking pictures. when you compete, you keep getting better. keep getting better, better, better! i have never turned down competition. if you ever want to see what you can do for yourself, compete with somebody. this is mine again. you can always tell who's got
who. but the fun stuff about being a fly on the wall is to read the paper the next day and they go, so and so said -- i'm like, they weren't even in the room. what they talking about? so this one i knew that the media wasn't all cool either! and some of them are my friends but those are the writers messing up. when you have to do visuals, a picture is still worth a thousand words. it can tell you in a heartbeat what's going on. as you see, there's some stuff going on. and when stuff is going on, i'm the fly on the wall. i hear everything. but i don't keep it. i'm looking for the photo that says, "this is a serious meeting." >> so speaking of serious, this moment here was taken in march of 2003. if you remember that time of the administration, it was a time that president bush decided to go to war in iraq. and this photo was made right after he made that decision which was made in the situation room just minutes before this photo was taken. i'll never forget that day because it was so intense leading up to that moment.
i was standing outside the situation room when it happened waiting for the meeting to end. the door swings open and he literally bolts out of the room. i see his face. his eyes are nearly full of tears. and i have to jump out of the way. i wanted to take a picture but i have to jump out of the way because he would have collided with me. he walked out through the oval office, didn't talk to anyone. he walk the entire length of the south lawn with the dogs. socy decided to hold back because i knew he was very emotional. i didn't know exactly what was happening so i waited. you can see the weight of that decision still on his face. then he spoke to me right after i made this picture. he said, eric, are you interested in history? all i could say was, yes, sir. because i mean doesn't speak to me every day. i don't brief him. so it was very unusual for him to talk to me. he said, these pictures you're taking are very important. the one in the situation room and the one here on the south lawn. just as he said that, i made a frame right after this of the vice president and don rumsfeld,
secretary of defense, coming out of the oval office. he walks over and they're discussing the timing of the start of the war. it was very, very intense. >> so all of these -- this group of photos, they are very fly on the wall shots. i'm sort of curious to know just the experience of being in that kind of -- being invisible, of a sort, and being in close proximity and watching and observing and knowing that you have to document but trying not to be intrusive. if each of you could just talk a little bit about the experience of being there. >> you know, when you walk into the -- any place along that campus, it's government. and this government is my tea. it takes care of a lot of
issues, not only in our country, but around the world. the intensity of being the fly on the wall means that you don't want anybody responding to anything that you have moved, anything that you have tried to edge toward. i carry a whole lot of gear because if i got stuck in a place i thought i need to stay at for a while while stuff began to unroll, i got choices of cameras, choices of lenses, two canons around my neck, a wide lux panoramic camera. i got a lyca that's quiet as they can be. because when they start getting down with the get-down, they can't hear me move. and i'm really a quiet mover. all that karate stuff i took through the years. me and my gear -- it paid off. i'm stealth.
i move smooth. i don't bounce into anything. i don't break anything. so they forget i'm there. i'm hearing this stuff going, whoa. whoa. what? but i'm concentrating on the pictures because it is about the documentation and the history. yeah, i'm a fly. i'm a piece of the furniture. don't touch the furniture. you know, just understanding that you're getting what nobody else is getting. and whether it ever gets seen, it's okay. but as time goes on, just like the abe lincoln and them? everything's going to get seen. and that's the fun about being a photographer. you may be dead, but you go on. >> it's a very unique role in the white house because every other position in the white house, you're there to interact with the president. our job is to be the professional observer. our job is to disappear in the background, if we can. but sometimes we're too close to the situation. just like you said, instead of a fly on the wall, which can be annoying, i compare it more to a piece of furniture in the room where they are accustomed to your presence and they trust your presence. and if you're not there, they actually -- actually, that brings more of an alarm when you're not there. and so -- that's part of the job, just being there. sometimes nothing's happening. you're just sitting there watching, trying to stay awake. some days are intense like this picture here. so it depends on the situation. >> yeah. i think for me, the obamas were what we call naturals in photo journalism. they were always just themselves. when you're taking pictures, i guess they're aware of the camera being there, but they don't really care about the camera. it helps us do the job and it
helps us do our job a lot easier. i think you'll see some of the pictures, just like you can see them just being themselves and it doesn't seem like there is a camera in the room. ah. that was -- i can't remember the name of the interviewer, you about he did an interview in the east room. during the interview a fly kind of landed on his shoulder. and he was so quick, he killed it. right? and he kept going on with the interview. then after the interview was over, he took out a tissue and he picked up the fly. [ laughter ] >> that is such an on-the-nail story about barack obama. if you hadn't told me, i wouldn't have believed it.
>> yeah. that's true. >> it was mrs. clinton's birthday and we're coming from the mansion to the rose garden for the celebration. and everybody was pretty much keen on both sides of their offices is in that shot. so it is happy time. and things are getting done. and this is when i know it's like -- i'm still pinching myself every day. remember, i'm from southeast washington, d.c. i'm clear that me being there is an aggravation. i know that. but because of the fbi record, they let me through anyway, i'm like -- must be a new day for real here in government, because i was worried when everything else was going on with the other presidents because they didn't
spend any time in d.c. but president clinton and mrs. clinton loved to go out to restaurants and eat and meet people. would take time to shake hands. i'm like, these people are different! it was so cool. d.c. had at last arrived. [ laughter ]. >> i like to call this photo "timing is everything." this is -- was taken the first week of the administration. if any of us -- lot of us know president bush. he was very timely. he actually hated to be late. he hated -- he started his meetings on time or early. so this is a good illustration of that. just got really lucky to be in the right place at the right time to literally raise the camera as it was happening and luckily there was no one walking in the hallway looking for the door. >> that was a foreign leader call. i couldn't tell you who the
leaders were. so what happens is, whatever the issue is, he has people come in and brief him on the topic, and then he takes the call. i don't know why he has such a serious look on his face. honestly, i just can't remember. >> my guy's got a serious look because all kind of stuff's going on. rwanda. yugoslavia has broken up. things are happening. it's like, what's next? so people are giving advice about what to do about some things and i'm fortunate because i do carry different lenses, i can pull up whatever i think i need to make it work. but i'm waiting on the shot. don't shoot your load before you're ready. if you shoot your shot before
you're ready to shoot your shot, when you're ready to shoot your shot it's too late. finger goes down, and you're waiting for it to come back -- no, no, no. you want to lay on it. you're hunting. you ain't going to hurt nothing but you're hunting. so you want your first shot to be the one. you don't want a lot of clicks going on either because it disturbs the seriousness of what's going on. which is a lot of reasons why they don't like us coming out. nobody even knows you're taking a picture. >> that was the -- so the president was about to decide -- or he's deciding to go for osama bin laden in that moment right there. so before he came in to the room, it was just a typical morning before he's about to go
on to marine one and take off for the last space shuttle launch. but i could tell there was a lot of nervousness and energy in the room with mcdonough and daley and brennan. i just felt that something was off or something was about to happen. so the president comes in to the room. i'm about that far away from him and i take two shots. that's the first. and the second shot you can see brennan waving me out of the room. i was like, okay. that's happened before, so it's no big deal. but then we find out sunday night when he goes on the air and says we've got osama bin laden. and then i find out later that was the moment they decided, the mission is a go. >> one thing i like about this sequence of photos is that it seems to capture kind of the presidency in like various states, very serious and somber kind of like whimsical with the clintons and with the photo of bush and cheney. so my question for all of you is, just can you -- can you talk about kind of the emotional like tone of being around the president? like obviously it is not -- every day is not a serious day. every day is not sort of like a loose, light-hearted day. it is a job, and like all jobs, there are highs and lows. so what's it like to be there when there is a low, and what's it like to be -- and i kind of think the public has a decent idea of what it is like to be around the president. but it is just sort of -- not much is going on? >> it's an office.
first, it is an office. it's an office with serious responsibilities. and as a photographer, you're part of the documentation of it. you are charged with capturing everything. not just a little bit. even when it is down time, there's stuff going on with somebody else. another national security person or mrs. clinton or the secretary of state's coming in to visit. there's things going on, even when it is a lull. if there's a lull, we're editing our pictures to get them out to the folks that have to have them. otherwise, we get backed up. that's no fun, where my photos? and you just come back from a big trip and you haven't gotten last week's stuff done. we switched from film when i was there to computers. i like to die. i came in one day and all my proof sheets were gone. and they got the computer on my desk. i'm like what's this? they're like that's your new computer.
i don't want a computer. but you're going to have to have a computer. i don't want a computer. so i fought them off for six months. i fought them off! where my proof sheets! i want my proof sheets! if there's a lull, it is about being behind. any time you come in to work at 5:30 in the morning because you know your editing is behind. and you can trust your edit tors to do it but the photographer's
eye is different than the editor's eye because i'm in the emotional part of what's being said or done and i have a little bit more insight that i don't even talk about. so i know why some pictures are more important than other pictures. i also looking at the little eyelids. are your eyes fully open or is there half mast looking like you not quite all there? i don't take pictures of people with their tongues hanging out their mouth. if you're blinking, if you're scratching your nose, i'm not shooting that. i'm just going to wait on you. so the most humorous part about all that stuff, how many times this guy going to pick his nose? who's coming to talk to the president about whatever it is, that's important. and the people -- what can i say. we are human. we are human. >> i think it is one of those things where you study someone for so long -- i mean i studied president george w. bush for eight years. i can literally listen to his voice and know what kind of mood he's in. i can study his microexpressions
to know what he was thinking about to the point where we kind of had a non-verbal communication in terms of like when i should be there and when i shouldn't be there. then i found little hiding areas where i -- he was always on my radar but he couldn't see me. so -- i would come out and certain times. but the days were like -- it was like -- some days were like an emotional roller coaster. obviously like the morning started out very seriously because the first thing the president would read would be the threat matrix. threats to our country. and right off the bat, the president's reading this very serious document. from there, meetings, meetings, meetings, photo-ops. then it could go to a meeting with the elementary schoolteacher of the year, or it
can go to the situation room for a crisis. it's a really a roller coaster. that's what made it really interesting and consuming was to follow that story throughout the day. because there's so many stories going on, including, like sharon said, i mean everything in front of you was a story where you see the president. but you look behind you, and there's stories. there's stories of the staff. there's stories of the president's senior aides that are going through some of the same emotions. so there's lots of stories going on. so sometimes it is hard to just focus on the president because there is so much going on around you. and it was -- it was like a disneyland for photography, be honest. like every day was just -- i can couldn't pick a story to follow. it would get dull because of the monotony of the repetitiveness. all you had to do was just have a cup of coffee and wake up and all of a sudden you see another story to follow. it was great. i loved it. >> lawrence? >> a lot of what eric said. i think the president sets the tone. if he's in a good mood, you try and be in a good mood. if he's in a somber mood or kind
of focused on something, you just follow cue with that. and also, he goes from the situation room to wounded warrior visit, and he matches the tone of each meeting with the right energy, the right words, the right -- everything. and that's tough. that's an emotional roller coaster trying to meet the needs of the situation all the time. >> next photo. >> oh. this is the big meeting. we got lots of things going on. but at the end of the meeting, there was a bright light. and he smiled and the rest of them were smiling, too. some things do turn out okay when they are difficult. but the tone and the mood. this guy likes to have a good time. his mom liked to have a good time. mrs. clinton liked to have a good time. then the serious stuff would happen. then everybody would seriously try to get health care passed.
he would seriously try to get some country to agree to take some refugees. they would seriously worry about what was going to blow up next because somebody had insulted somebody else. so you watching all this stuff. we don't get this that often at all. because you all would be scared to death if you saw and heard all the things i did. i go home going, oh, my god! lord! and my partner would say, what's wrong with you? it's been a wild day today. but it's okay. she's like, i know you can handle it. i'm talking to myself going, really? can i handle it today? because you get to hear things nobody else gets to hear. you get to see things and interactions between the staff as they try to get along, too, because what you have is a big, huge -- i call it sand pit.
you got to decide what part of the sand you want to stand on to make sure, one, you get your picture. two, only person that's my boss is the president. i remember some guy hadn't been there a month trying to tell me i can go now. i went up to him going, i don't work for you. and i smiled and stepped back. and six months later he was gone. [ laughter ] when you're with somebody every day, i like getting up early in the morning to go catch the plane on air force one. that's one big flying office building. but the food is good. the camaraderie is wonderful. and we don't have to go through tsa. >> that was -- i think that was very early on in 2009. i think that may have been his first meeting with netanyahu.
it was -- i think the body language of these two guys are just -- they're getting to know each other, getting a feel for each other. and they're trying to get their points across. and this particular instance, netanyahu's listening and the president's trying to make his point. >> this was when they called dylann roof, the young man who killed the eight or seven -- >> nine. >> -- nine! sorry. churchgoers. so he was waiting to be announced to go make a statement to the press. >> socks is special. so was buddy, the dog. but this is after a run. if you came in at 7:00 in the morning, you did his jog. and you started with him. if you came in at 8:00 in the morning, you were with mrs. clinton at all and you may know not -- and you were traveling that day. so when she goes, you go, too. if you come in at noon, you don't know when you're going home because if they had guests that were staying at the house, he liked to give tours. he had gotten so good about the history of the white house.
he would tell you stuff and he would even do some research on his own and tell you stuff about the house you didn't know. every time i heard him talk, i'm like -- i didn't know that. so he's a very wonderful guy with everything. i love cats. i love dogs. i think everybody should be treated fairly. he treated -- he's allergic to cats but he picked the cat up. >> so that's president bush with barney. he called barney the son he never had. and you might remember, barney's the one that bit the hand of the reporter one day. guess he left some stitches. but, again, this is another situation where president bush allowed me to photograph him during some of his personal time, including -- this is early on in the administration where he was a jogger. later on he started biking when
his knees started hurting. but it is just a personal moment. like a real moment, just like any of us with our pets. >> that's bo. we were about to do an event with the first lady somewhere. i couldn't tell you where. my memory's shot. but yeah, bo's a great dog. >> that was just say good-bye to a world leader and he was walking back into the oval office. so nice light. nice shapes. >> how did you get up there. >> there's a staircase.
>> i was curious, maybe they didn't know. >> it's not a secret. >> a question i had with reference to the photos that the presidents with their pets, how much are you thinking of trying to to humanize the president's, not just to capture them while they're working and in various, in the office. but with their pets with, their families. too humanizing? trying to photograph them, like the humanizing to, to present them as sort of like full people and not simply kind of these symbols of authority? because a photo with president bush with his dog, it's a very
vulnerable photograph. it's not like a position that you normally see that kind of leader in. how much of when you're photographing the president -- >> that's the difference about the kind of photography we do. we're documentarians. so he and the dog -- together? that's a shot. you're a photographer. if you miss that shot, you're going to kick yourself the rest of your life. so if you see something, you don't wait on whether or not you have permission, need permission, should you or not? none of that. and nor, any of us thinking about humanizing somebody. they already human. you see them every day and you see them when they're upset. you see them when they're angry about things that aren't going okay and you see when somebody hasn't done what they were supposed to do, why things weren't working. then you go, it's like being in trouble. like you're in school again. that's not good. so we're not discriminating
about anything. we're historian, we're visual historians. we are documenting what we see. we're not telling him to pick no dog up or kiss your dog. none of that. we're behind-the-scenes people. we are trying to show what real life is. not to show it says that we're cowards. we're not cowards, we're serious photo journalists who have now turned into some serious documentarians, documenting stuff is going to be in encyclopedias for years, maybe. now that i'm older, all the stuff is going to stand the test of time in some way. now lord knows given the computers and how many images they hold. we can get overdone with images, that's why facebook has come to be real but humanizing? they're already human. all we're doing is taking their picture. i think we just take the picture and then we leave it up for everyone else to decide. you know what it is. >> yeah. >> yeah. >> one of the things i was establishing a relationship that, that allows you access to document those personal moments. because that will open the door and say hey come on in. it does take time. to for them to warm up to you. and to trust you. and that's part of the job. but it's, you know it's there, it's their decision to open their lives you know. i had the opportunity to document the president as a father. a dog owner, as a son. as a texan. a lot of personal time on the ranch. you'll see some of that later.
>> that's the run. we ran all over d.c. and the fun part was when some guests would come, not quite in shape. had to crawl back to the van or some of the agents weren't quite in shape. and you would see them at the last van getting on board, they can't finish the run. but that was always fun, because the press is jostling for position. we've been put out on the corner somewhere waiting for them to run by us. it is a hoot. but it's some of the best times because the guy is running, he's seriously running? and the agents, they running, too. it's very, very cool. >> that's transportation
secretary ray lahood. one of the things we decided or when pete was always with the president, we had a hard time getting in the chuck myself, samantha, or sonia or amanda, we tried to do other things. one of the ideas was to document the cabinet secretaries, spend like four or five days with them. this particular trip was with lahood, he went across the country doing different types of events. so it was you know, i think we did maybe seven or eight. maybe nine. of the secretaries, it was like a photo essay, kind of a week with and that was one of the pictures. >> that's the final cabinet shot. and we did it on a front lawn. instead of doing it in the
cabinet room. the first one was done in the cabinet room by bob mcnealy. what else can be done? we've not tried the lawn out in front. and this is our last shot together. everybody, it took time to get everybody's schedule together. then you got to deal with secret service, bless them. the military, the guys that move the furniture. the head usher of the white house. you have to talk to the gardener, you know, to make sure you're not going to step on the plants or anything they may have. because you want to make everybody happy. so i have to talk to everybody to make sure it's all on board. and beside having them out there like that, we got to hope it's not going to rain today. and we also do mock stuff to make sure it's all right, first, like two days before i had different staff come out and sit and pretend to be one person or another. to make sure this was going to work. so it's fun trying to set stuff up. if you're a portrait photographer in a studio. i got a big studio, it's the white house. it's the lawn, the front of the house, the back of the house. all of these wonderful cabinet
people. look at them. men and women. men and women. four score. no, it's cabinet. gore wasn't there. this is the cabinet. gore wasn't there gore was doing something else. i don't remember what. no, gore wasn't there for that one. this is the last shot this is the stuff that goes on. you put up big lights, big back lights. everybody is evenly lit. you got that take light readings to make sure you got it right. i shot in color and in black and white. i like the black and white better than the color. >> any particular reason or just because? >> i'm a black and white girl. >> this photo was taken on the very first day of the administration, this is january 20th, 2001. this is george w. bush sitting
down at the oval office desk for the very first time and what i like about this picture here is that you have several layers here. you have that personal moment, the proud father, watching his son as the president sit down. you have the history of two presidents together. only the second son of the president to become president. the first being john q. adams. there's a story behind the story. you see that cord coming from the wall? well that was a massage chair. and i don't know -- i don't know who left it there. but anyway, george w. bush is turning the chair on. that's what's leading to the laughter at that moment. and the chair was gone the next morning. >> this is the second inauguration. the, he had just given his address. and he, he's gone up the steps and he decides to take a couple of steps back and look at the crowd. one last time. it's win of my favorite photos
because he's taking it all in one last time. >> so this is 9/11. and i was with president bush at the elementary school in sarasota, florida, that morning. and what's interesting here is that you see the time on the clock. this is around 9:25. and i didn't know exactly what's happening. until i walked into the room to see the live pictures of the burning towers and i was waiting for president bush to stop to stare at the television. everyone was shocked walking into the room and seeing that horrific image. and dan bartlett, who was pointing at the photo, he was
the communications director for the president, is actually alerting everyone in the room. because we're seeing the first replay of the second tower getting hit. and i made a frame right after this where president bush turns to see the horrific imgage that's burned into everyone's memory. i was with president bush the entire day. on the airplane. this picture was taken actually as we approached andrews air force base, this is after spending all day on the airplane. stopped in barksdale, louisiana. we stopped in nebraska. and as we approached, andrews air force base, we noticed the fighter jets out the window. that's what they're staring at. apparently they had been with us the entire day, but we hadn't seen them. so it's really just kind of shocking to see that the fighter jets nearly touching the wings of air force one out of the left side of the plane. out of the right side of the
plane you can see the pentagon still smoldering. it's very shocking as we approached d.c. >> and later that week, to me, 9/11 seemed like a long day. that entire week. i don't think i slept the entire week. this is the day that president bush toured ground zero and this is the famous bullhorn moment where the president stood on the rubble and the retired firefighters that's with him, was there to mark the spot for him to stand. and the president told him. you stay here with me. and the moment was purely organic. it's really pretty powerful when
it happened. and president bush was hugging all the firefighters. you can feel this moment building and he was hugging the firefighters, they're crying with him and this is, day four where no survivors are being found and the firefighters are frustrated, they're angry. they're, they wanted him to do something. they're telling him, go get 'em, george. that's when he came through with the famous line that, i can hear you, the world hears you and the people who knock these buildings down will hear from all of us, soon. and again, the same day after the bull horn moment, such an emotional roller coaster that day. this is probably one of the most difficult situations i ever had to photograph in. this is the president walking into a room full of 300 family member that is were waiting to find out about their loved one who is were missing. and, again, hope was being lost you know, every second, because no one was being found alive. no survivors. children walking around with handwritten signs, have you seen my father? have you seen my mother? it was very sad. and the president spent three hours hugging and crying with every single one of them. it was, very powerful. >> i would be interested to know
if you would like to talk about it at all, how you, yourself, like dealt with sort of the experiencing all of that emotion, that pain? >> it was tough. it really was. i mean i was hiding my tears with my camera, to be honest. it was such a sad situation. i was confronted by a few of the family members who didn't know why i was there with a camera. it was hard to do. i remember taking about ten frames. when i hit that frame there. i knew i had something. and i walked out and gave them privacy because it was so intense. >> sharon and lawrence did you have similar experiences with just sort of very emotional moments. moments that may have been sensitive for family members who were there? >> president rabin was killed in israel. and it was a weekend and president clinton, it was like
half a day going down and he was on the lawn, chipping with his golf club, into the hole and i saw one of the guys come out to tell him what happened. and the look on his face -- i didn't know what it was, but he was sad as he could be. he went from being a happy-go-lucky golfer to like upset. we go back into the oval and i start to hear what's going on. harold ickes told him what had occurred. and it was bad. he cried. because we were so close to getting peace in the middle east. this stuff that's been been going on there has disrupted everybody and everything. i can't imagine being a kid over there. and hearing all that bombing and kind of war stuff going on every day of your life. and rabin was our best hope for getting to the next phase, we're going to have peace and now we're not going to have peace. and we don't have peace now. so -- the people who make money off of war, don't want war over. the people who love peace, want peace, we're not getting what we want. so it matters that somebody
understands that war is not good for things that grow and that includes people and grass and cows and cats and dogs. we got some issues about our priorities. being all money and not about peace. i don't care how we get to peace, everybody's got to give up something. we need peace in the world for some time, you know, at least, 26 years of war, oh, my god. this is the things that are going on. do i watch tv? no. no television. i can't deal with the fantasy world of television, when the real stuff is happening to all of us and to our friends and to our family. pictures, tell that story. i love documentaries, i read everything i can about whatever the issue is. anytime i put my nose into an economic book trying to understand what's going on with the business of economics, i'm a photographer, why am i looking in an economic book. i know how to add and subtract. i understand the policies about
economics in the white house. do you know there's policies about economics? if you don't vote, you don't have a nickel and a quarter the so you make sure you vote. >> you know when those were >> you know when those were tense moments, you usually don't see the photographer. so -- i'm good. >> this is a quiet moment in the oval. this is the king family and the late coretta scott king is on the left. and this is them in 2002 and coretta scott king is holding the plans for the mlk memorial. she was raising money at the time. typically my routine for meetings, i would photograph the people coming in, depending on the nature of the meeting and i was walking out of the room. just as the door was closing i heard bernice king in the middle.
she said mr. president, will you pray with us? i did a 180. and ran right in and was able to get a shot of the prayer during the meeting. >> this is the daughter of james bird who was dragged to death in texas and a state legislature would not pass a hate crime bill. and she had been to see everybody in the state of texas. nobody would deal with what she was saying, her and her family. when he came to -- she was there to greet us. and he hugged her and she just cried and cried. it was one of the most emotional things i ever experienced. and him, too. just seeing him get redder, his eyes water. the things that we do to each other. we look for somebody to help us out of the bad situation that we're in.
and it's not coming fast enough. now there have been so many more james birds since this incident. we have so far to go. and as photographers documenting this kind of stuff, we're on the front lines of what's working and what's not working. so what do we do next? we keep digging, we keep digging and trying to say we can do better. we have to do it through photography to show you that, it's that bad. and you don't know it's that bad. i'm going to say god bless all the cell cameras in america, and cell phones, cameras on it, god bless them. because otherwise we'd be even more james birds. that's what that picture means to me. >> the supreme court decision came down that morning and a guy named jeff tiller in our office
had this concept, i think, maybe a day or two before this. and everyone ran with it. and it just, it was a really, really beautiful night. >> i think i was out there, actually. >> you were out there? >> yeah. >> oh, good. >> he's listening to why rob brown's plane fell out of the sky in croatia. and the military is trying to explain what happened. i got to hear all that. i tell you, human beings are special. and when you lose a special one because of things you hoped would not happen but happened, all the explaining in the world does not take away the pain of what's been lost. ron brown was a great guy. i remember him before he got involved with politics like this, before he became commerce secretary. and he's there one day and now he's not coming back.
it's a hard thing. plus some of the people on the plane with him were our friends from the commerce department. no explanation going to take away the pain of what happened. this is seriously, this is what happened. we were like, oh, my god. this was deep. very difficult to get arafat and netanyahu then the king of jordan and president clinton get up and leave them in a room by themselves. security was having a fit, but clinton is pushing him out of the room like, you go, too. you leave. and everybody left.
we went outside the door and president clinton turned to the secret service and said nobody goes in, and they don't come out. and that's where we left them for a while. >> that's great. i love this. i thought i died and gone to heaven. because the president of the united states wore a kinte cloth. that's a very sacred, wonderful woven fabric done from the heart of the folks who work on this stuff. we are at a rally in ghana and i'm on a big huge pedestal in front of them with long lenses and i got other photographers with me. i just happened to turn around and see the crowd still coming. i thought, whoa. all you could see was clouds of dust because people were still coming. but it was a magic moment in my time because never in my day would i ever have thought i would be at something like this. remember, now, i'm from southeast d.c. you know, ohio state was the
beginning of my whole world and it got me ready for all this stuff, because what you do on campus, you can do better in real life if you learn the lessons that they're trying to teach you. i can proudly say i learned those lessons. >> the 50th anniversary of the march on selma. i mean, it was great. i mean, it was a great speech, just the energy, the foot -- or foot soldiers to the right and john lewis, you know, just the history of that moment, it was just, you know, speechless. they were on stage praying. >> the president of china came. we had a big ceremonial thing and then they go inside to start
the dialogue and always the first ladies end up talking to each other from each country and then the guys are talking to each other. each one has their own interpreter, each one, so they are just listening only to what -- so you are not missing anything about what's being said. so i just said, whoa, look at this. the delaney sisters. boy, sharp as a tack. i hope i get that old i can still talk to. they did yoga every day. they had a big huge jar of garlic. we are in mt. vernon, new york, and the book "having our say" had come out and we had to go to new york for another event and then mrs. clinton wanted to go meet the delaney sisters, so we did. boy, oh boy. and then i hear one of them say, look, they've got a colored photographer.
child, how are you? yes, ma'am, i'm fine. >> that was the first lady getting prepared for a speech, commencement address to the class of virginia tech. yeah. so she was always prepared. she would go over a speech, you know, a dozen times before giving it and that's just going over the notes before giving the speech. >> how often were you with the first lady? >> so we had a system in our office, so pete was always with the president and amanda was the first lady's photographer, but pete liked us to rotate as well, so every third week i would cover the first lady. this is one of her trips to london and her big initiative
was always girls, and she had just given a speech and she is known as the hugger in chief, so she hugs everybody. >> so this is the transition meeting which happens after every presidential election. the president-elect obama in this case, meeting with president bush for the first time. this is right after the election in november of 2008. and i had to actually -- i made this picture with a remote camera that i mounted on the mantle of the fireplace and you can see the ivy kind of creeping in, which i was trying to hide the camera. i did it more as a backup because i actually was standing on the other side of that coffee table and they only allowed me in the room and both of them really wanted to get down to business. they actually were looking at me
like, are you done yet? it really didn't make a picture. luckily i had that camera as a backup. as i was walking out i made two frames of them talking as the door closed and luckily one of them worked. >> that's great. >> we are in the mansion in the middle of the day and he has been told by a couple of folk that some stuff is brewing overseas and it's like -- if you can imagine trying to watch ten pots of soup boiling at the same time, this was what was going on. and then we had a new pot to deal with. so he's listening to what it is and trying to decide what's the next step on it. it takes a lot of strength as a person to understand all the destruction that is happening from place to place and you're trying to fix it from place to place and then all these pieces have to come together with the
right people to make it work. and then you've got to pray and hope that the people on the other side from another country get it, can we all pull this together in the same direction. now, we're going to have oars but the boat ain't going to go nowhere if we're not pulling together. so what are we going to do about this situation? day by day there are decisions because america is the police person for the world because nobody else will send people to do things to be helpful, even in natural disasters. we are sending out a bunch of folk, canada does it, but a lot of other countries don't. not having the resources, not having the how to do it. so how you do it starts with him. i get it. so at some point you get tired of just having clean frames. i was shooting through stuff, other stuff, i would be around the corner somewhere, leaning --
that's a picture, get that one, too. because you want it to be exciting photography, not boring photography. so i like to shoot between stuff. >> so it took me years to set this up because getting the two of them together in a situation where they had the time to do it, i was able to have them sit for me for a portrait at camp david. and i really wanted to get just -- get their faces together because, you know, they took so alike. and, again, for me for eight years to have that be part of the story, you know, the history of his father being president. they have a very traditional relationship and his father would stop by and just talk about baseball mostly. i mean, they really -- he never really seemed like he gave him any advice or anything, but
luckily i was able to capture this unique portrait and this is around, i think, 2007. >> is that a light? set it up with a light or is that -- >> yeah, i had a huge soft box and they were joking around before this, too, making funny faces, but you don't want to see those. and this is president bush the texan at the western white house in crawford, texas. the only place where he can drive his own truck. he has 1,600 acres to roam. what i like about this photo here is this really kind of captures his personality. he has a little twinkle in his eye and he's got the iconic cowboy hat because he's really a texan at heart. texas is where he would recharge before going back to washington
to do the hard work, but as we know, the presidency follows the president everywhere, you know, the apparatus, you know, all the people and the assets. there is like a mini white house basically everywhere the president goes, including the ranch when the president would go there. the timing of this photo is interesting, too. this is a month before 9/11 and so every time i see this photo i see a sense of innocence before the world changed. >> i think that is the last photo in the slide show. [ applause ] >> we're going to have q & a. there will be people with microphones on the side or over here. >> hi, everybody. so this brings us to the q & a
portion of the evening. there are going to be two people with microphones, myself and jasmine to my right. if you have a question, please raise your hand. remember, we are recording this, so if you can please speak clearly into the microphone. i think we have our first question right up front right here. >> hi. did you all have much of a life while you were working? and second question, are these photos yours? >> we had no life, none of us, and the photos belong to the american people. this is on the taxpayers' dollar. this is your history. this is our history. i couldn't keep a dinner date for anything. if people invited me to do something, i could say maybe and then -- and not show up ever. but the good thing was when i could show up at something, i could go home again. i always showed up at something that somebody had even if it was months later. i hadn't forgotten. i would also say to them i'm sorry i couldn't come to this other thing but i'm here today. so i could go home again. some of the staff at the white
house could never go home again because they didn't stay in touch with their friends because they were from someplace else and they had made a new life for themselves in d.c. i'm lucky, my life is in d.c., my work is in d.c., my family is in d.c. i have the best of all worlds. and then the best part was making new friends at the white house. the next best part was traveling around the country and calling up my college buddies going, we're coming to town. be in the rope line. >> my life was the president's schedule basically, and what you learn is like you kind of end up, you know, following his patterns, like you eat when he eats, you know, you sleep when he sleeps, you know. but, yeah, it's really tough. it's a grind. it's more like dog years, to be honest, because a lot happens within one day. lucky for me, though, i'm married and still married at the
time, but my wife worked in the white house for three of the eight years, so that helped me a lot. >> i had a life, yeah. pete did a lot of the heavy lifting with potus and on weekends i would work sometimes, but we had a system where every is third week you knew that you weren't going to be working nights or weekends. so every third week i would have time with my family. my kids recognize me. >> we have a question to the front. >> good evening, lady and gentlemen. two questions. is this the first time that the three of you have given this presentation? and the second question: are you going to take your presentation to other cities? please come to d.c. >> this is the first time the three of us have sat on a panel together and i'm happy to do it again. >> yeah.
>> i'm sure you can find another moderator. >> no. no. it's a whole package. whole package. >> our next question is to the far left. >> i can't see. >> just a two-part question related to technology and taking photographs. first part to sharon, second part to lawrence. sharon, can you talk a little bit more what it was like to transition from film to digital and what that did to your timeline and your flow and your process, and, lawrence, do you -- maybe to the three of you, are we ever -- are you ever concerned about wearable cameras and, you know, perpetual presence of cameras taking future photographers' jobs away from them in your role? >> you're only as good as the
last shot you did and it's competitive, and part of the deal about being a photographer who is documenting stuff is to do the best job. you can't worry about other photographers. you need to worry about doing your job. if you do your job good, you're going to be there. now, if you start messing up, or maybe not, but it's okay. the more cameras, honestly, i think it's better. of course, at some point you can't have a camera for something or if i forget my camera, i'm dying. if i don't have a camera on my body, i will not use my phone camera. it's not a camera. so i won't use it. so i broke my little camera before i came out here, my little fujica x-30. i'm still sad about it and i've seen some pictures since i've been here and i have not even brought my cellphone up going, dammit, you should have got a camera before you left. so when i go home tomorrow, what am i going to do? monday morning i will be down at the camera shop. the computer thing with the
cameras, we have a lab that i used to work out of andrews air force base and the lab would do our processing, make our proof sheets. they come three and four times a day in a truck with a metal case, very official military people coming in, getting our stuff. we marked our bags, what the event is, the date and who the principals are in the pictures and four or five hours later proof sheets would come up. when we started going to computers the communications people decided if we get you other cameras we can get the pictures sooner. we've already got our hands full, but okay. so now we're carrying this heavy camera that weighs more than two times the camera around our neck. and it's not a full frame camera so you can't see every nuance about what you're shooting. that was frustrating. what was more frustrating for me was having time to think. the fun thing about looking at proof sheets, you can think while you're looking and you can look good. the computer screen you're like,
what? it's not -- it's not even -- it's not in focus. no, that's the screen. oh, i don't need these kind of heart attacks. no. no. so i had a hard time. by the time i left we had started switching over. we were the first presidential library that literally put everything on disc. now, the first load of discs that got done a year before we left, the coding wasn't good. you know how you have to figure out the silver or gold coating. well, it didn't hang, it didn't stay. so i had to go out and find another company to do it again. so you don't know -- i don't like doing stuff twice. we are running out of time because we're getting ready to get out of office, too. i told the lab don't make anything that's not dealing with turning our stuff from negatives into discs to go to the presidential library into the archives. but now the computer, i'm a computer geek, i guess, kind of, but i'm reluctant. i'm so reluctant. >> well, after sharon left
office we -- i used the film process, you know, the lab and it was during my time that the transition happened, and i directed the white house from film to digital. and that was a huge job because of the volume that happens in the white house, which you all know, i mean, you know, to design a work flow and a system to handle the digital files. unfortunately, we had to decondition the lab and bring a lot of those positions internal inside the white house. and then also using digital cameras was another change for me, which was a tradeoff, because i loved using the lyka camera, all the stuff on 9/11
was a lyka, and then switching to a digital camera that was bulky, heavy and noisy, i really had to change my style of shooting because of the noise. unfortunately, the digital cameras were not quiet when they first came out in terms of that first full frame camera i think canon came out with, and that's when i decided to make the switch. it was a struggle but it was something that had to be done in terms of keeping up with the technology and also it was where everything was headed. luckily i had the experience coming from the associated press using digital photography and applying my skills to turn the white house into digital. >> i'll just say that you're talking about wearable technology and how things are changing. technology has been changing forever. you can put a camera in someone's hands who is not a photographer and you're going to get crap, right? but if you put a camera in someone's hands who is talented or whatever the technology is,
you're going to get something that's pretty compelling. today's sony cameras are mirrorless, so they're completely silent. i would love to be back in the oval office because they would not hear a thing. they wouldn't know. >> we have a question in the room on the far right. >> thanks for your wonderful presentation. are any of you in contact with current white house photographers, and what do they say what the heck is going on? >> what do you mean, what do they say? a good friend of ours is the chief photographer and she's doing a great job. in terms of what's going on, she's just doing her job. i mean, honestly. >> we talked a little bit about
this before the event and i asked you about this, lawrence, how the style of photography is so different and she's just doing her job. >> she's doing her job. >> that's obviously what the president wants. i would actually be curious to hear what you all think about sort of your photography feels like very traditionally journ journalistic, and the photos coming from the white house are not as candid -- >> they're posed. >> -- they're posed, they usually show the president as a figure of authority and they don't seem to be communicating the same president in life like yours do. >> this is why a picture is worth a thousand words. she's going to be all right, she just has to work it out. it takes time. everybody is not the same kind of subject when they become president of the united states. and it takes time to flush it out. as people get more comfortable about who they're working with
ifrwith, i was scared to death of the clintons for over a year. i wouldn't say anything. then one day mrs. clinton said, oh, she speaks. because i still pinched myself every day i came in that place. what? where am i going? i'm not hanging out with the girls and the guys, i'm going to work? oh, boy. when you realize the magnitude of what you overcome as a kid and your parents have been wonderfully helpful and pushed you to do the things that are all correct, and here you are with these folks trying to run the world in a good way, you're like, that ain't the way to run the world, but i'm from southeast but they got new ideas, so i'm trying to be flexible and understand. you're talking about somebody who reads mad magazine, okay? or comic books. i need another way to look at things other than the way the newspapers tell me to look at
it. the other information is better. give the photographer a chance. she's busy. when she gets a break, we'll be on top of her -- girl. but it hasn't happened yet. >> you have to understand that the pictures they're showing or releasing, you're not seeing all the pictures that are taken. so as a communication office, this is the message that they're pushing for visually. >> that's the point i was going to make. we don't know what's happening inside. she may have some amazing images that are just sitting in the archive waiting to be shown at some point. and we may see those when everything is over, we may see them during the administration, we just don't know. time will tell. >> our next question is at center right. >> thank you all for being here. i love what you said about studying these men as presidents and we're sort of implicitly
talking about this, but if you could synthesize what you learned about these people as presidents as you were photographing them. >> great question. you learn about leadership, you learn about discipline. president bush was very disciplined. his schedule was very, very tight. he made sure that he put exercise in his schedule every day. it was very important to him. and if anything creeped into that time, he was very, very upset. i learned that everyone looks up to the president for leadership, and he did a great job of leading our country through some really tough times.
>> sharon? >> what can i say? my guy. my guy. >> for me watching president obama was always a lesson because he was so compassionate with people, and he gave just himself to a lot of people. when people met him, i thought a thousand times they were kind of skeptical with him, but both she and he, once they met with them and talked with them, they felt like they were being listened to and heard and they came away with a positive impression. so just how to treat people with respect and kindness. >> president clinton was late all the time because he talked to everybody. and even if they put up barriers to direct him how to get there quickly, he stepped over the barrier. he would be running 15 minutes behind, 30 minutes behind, 45
minutes behind. and the advance guy is doing his best to say, sir, sir, we need to keep moving, we need to keep moving. he says, you disagree with me because of what? if you disagree with him, he really wants to understand why. i know where the time went. he talks a lot. mrs. clinton turned into a talker when she started running for office, too. before i realized it, he's finished his line and she hasn't finished hers. so when you meet people, you have to take the time with them. there is a whole ton of us that just blow people off because we think they are not important. each and every one of us are important. and for the president of the united states to talk to you, he's telling you, too, you are important, and i want to know what you're thinking. and you disagree with me? i really want to know why. what would you do if i did it like that? what do you think of that? i'm hearing him give scenarios and people give him scenarios back.
unbelievable. >> we have a question to the center right. >> thanks so much for being here today. i think lawrence is shaking his head because i'm his niece. so just hearing each of you talk about your experience working in the white house, it seems like to say that it was a highlight of your career is almost an understatement, so i'm kind of curious about how you went about thing about what your next step was and what you wanted to do out of your next role and if you could really match how meaningful and significant your job in the white house was. >> after leaving the white house? >> yep, after leaving the white house. >> it's a tough act to follow. we talked about this. so for me personally, i still want to take pictures. so that's what i've always done, it's what i love to do, so if i'm taking pictures of a college basketball game or a corporate event, i'm happy taking pictures. now, it's not at the level of
covering the president obama, but there are still real emotions. i'm still doing freelance work for news organizations, but there are still real emotions and moments in that, and i enjoy that. >> everything is a letdown. no. it's just like lawrence said, it really is tough to experience the same level of intensity and importance and travel, you know. it's one of those things, too, once it's over, it's over. it's like cinderella and the clock strikes midnight and your pass doesn't work behind the gate and you can't get in anymore. it's like leaving high school. and like lawrence said, i've always been a photographer and i will continue to work on stories, and i love politics. i will continue to do what i've
always loved to do no matter what the story is. and so -- yeah. >> i'm lucky, i got great, great, wonderful clients around d.c. a lot of them are think tanks, nonprofits. whatever the mission is that they're doing, if i agree with their mission, that's who i want to do my work with. i still exhibit. i'm part of a group of 40-plus photographers that i helped found almost 40 years ago called the exposure group. we meet once a month doing the art and business of photography so we can keep getting the next generation coming, because pictures is a wonderful way to make a living, be you an editor, a processor, a computer whiz because all this stuff leads to some other stuff. and it's creative. photography stays creative. that's my joy. the other thing is i keep meeting new people. i don't stay home. i do not watch tv. people are my juice.
because every person brings something with their personality or their job to the plate. and by doing that, and you let me shoot it, i'm telling your story because you let me and i get to meet new people. it's just a wonderful way for me to live my life. i still play music, i still mess around, goof around. i'm still with my neighbors and my friends. i'm lucky. i got everything one could want after doing the white house. steady money coming in, happy life, pets that love me, a partner that -- it's about love in the house. and good neighbors make good friends. welcome, people, to the hood. i live in columbia heights, washington.
when we first moved over there, nobody wanted to live over there. now everybody wants to live over there. i think something is wrong. >> our next question is in the far back center. >> hey, so l.j. and eric, both being photojournalists with the soviet press and then moving to a white house position -- sorry, i'm an l.a. times photographer so i have to ask. >> that's where you ended up at. >> that's right, and i worked in d.c. with all these guys. there is a little bit of controversy within the journalism world with the idea of access to media photographers covering the white house. i mean, having done it, it's a tight space. we can't get everybody in all the time. eric being chief photographer, did you have a role in any of those -- i don't know if you had
more controversy with obama where there were photos handed out, and i don't know if you had control over let's let people in or not let people in. talk a little about the humanizing you're first asked about when you're shooting your subject, the president, in that humanizing them, it may not be your objective while you're shooting, but clearly, when the photo is released, it's publicity. so we know there is some role the communications office plays. but as a photographer, where are you in that where you were a photojournalist, you worked for ap, you're doing news, this is what happened, you're doing the photos. but when you're in the white house and you're doing these photos, do you have any input? i have some great shots of them smiling, these will look great.
how does that go in your daily job or is it all by communications and you're out of the role? >> with communications, we did not touch our stuff. bob mcnealy, bless his heart. we are skilled people, we know what we're doing. and the communications people will muck it up. that's what happens. they don't pick the best pictures. we've been through that in our group. but you trust the eye of the person you hired to do the job. and bob trusted us. he had seen all of our work and knew what we could do. and we knew what we could do. you're talking about a confident foursome here about what we could get done. calli shell and the way she did herself with gore was a prime example of just a bad photographer -- i mean, bad is good now, y'all -- she could shoot like crazy, get stuff done, tell a story. i mean, she was a heroine to me in the photography world. it is how the other people act around you that you got to make
sure you don't act like them, okay? you had to keep yourself grounded. look in the mirror and go, am i doing the right thing? and then let people make fun of you so you know you're grounded. when they're messing with you, you're human, okay? >> that's a great question. you know, during my time with the digital photography becoming so prevalent and the internet exploding, 24-hour cable and the demand for images became great where my office was always being pounded for images. and i was always a part of the process in terms of just generating lots of selections for photos to be released, but that decision was made by -- the final decisions were made by the communications office. and they would decide on photos that would be released, and sometimes i would argue with them in terms of, like, that i felt some photos were better
than others. but they would look at it with different eyes, sometimes with overly critical eyes, but that's just the nature of the business. and i see where you're getting at in terms of photo releases and what it meant for access with the other photographers, with media photographers, and we received the same criticism because we released more photos than the clinton administration, and i'm sure the obama administration released more photos than us. >> yep. >> but na doesn't necessarily equal less openness in terms of allowing photographers to come in. we received the same criticism. it's just the nature of the times, and just like the evolution of the white house
now, everyone expects the next administration to do just the same thing, but they're not. so that's why everyone is kind of surprised. but they're different. you know, everyone has a different mindset, and everyone uses the technology differently. so i don't know if that answers your question. >> pretty much what eric said, but i'll just add a little bit. the explosion of social media during the obama administration was such a -- the pictured fed so much of that to social media. you had facebook, you had flickr, you had instagram, all that stuff that needed content, and that content was produced by the photographers in the photo office. in terms of the access to the media, you know, i really think that the white house communications office realized that they could reach their target audience by going around
newspapers or magazines and going directly to. and that was a choice. you had the first president do an interview between two ferns, you know, and that was hugely, hugely popular and successful. so i used to be ap, eric used to be ap. we know the power of the ap and you know the power of newspapers. but at that time they were just going another direction. and as far as pete, i don't think he had that much -- i don't think he was opposed to it, but i don't think he had that much say in terms of who was going to cover the president, what media outlets were going to cover the president. >> we were a little bit more flexible. we would bring in a "newsweek" photographer or "time" magazine for a day or so or someone from the "new york times" would shadow the photographers, and you could come to whatever we went to and take your pictures. diana from "time" magazine --
d diana walker, she would come. when you do stuff like that, they know the rules. when we tell you you got to go because stuff is getting sense t -- sensitive, you got to go. so you get to cover what we cover, see what we see. but when we tell you it's time to go, you got to go. we had a huge, wonderful, large pool of photographers. now, because of what i call money issues for all these companies that do the publishing and all that stuff, they all have shareholders and they seem to be more aware of the shareholders now than they worry about content. they don't care about content, they care about shareholders. so i watched film crews go from five or six for each outlet, now they pull their cameras. everybody shares the same thing. the still photographers who used to freelance began to lose their work working for the "washington
post" or the "newsweek" or the wire services if they were doing the stream and stuff, because they were not given the access. so the companies decided to make things smaller. when i was working at the soe d associated press, i'm a silent film editor, and we get to decide everything and we decide where to go to get things covered. then you find out some people are not allowed to shoot some stuff. so i'm getting a phone call saying, sharon, now they're telling us when we can put our cameras up to our eyes. excuse me? wait a minute, they're telling you what? they're telling us to leave our cameras on the ground until they tell us to put them up. i said, what are you all doing? we're mad. don't be mad, keep talking, negotiate. what do i do? i said, if you take a picture, i'll be happy. take a picture no matter what. well, okay. so people took pictures, anyway.
between the fight of the press handlers and the press trying to cover the president, they made their own problem. not the press, the handlers. the people from the press conference tried to tell people when to be creative. you know that ain't right. >> one last question to the far right in front. >> thank you very much. i was very interested in the photo that, eric, you took with president bush and president-elect obama with the remote control. and i was curious what the rules of the game are with that, if any. you know, can you shoot remotely from anywhere when you're not in the room? because it's one thing when you're in the room and they know you're in the room, and i imagine aztes technology change maybe more with you, lawrence, that you were able to shoot remotely and you were hidden and they didn't know you were there.
talk about the advance preparation that has you thinking, i'm going to put it here above the fireplace and what security issues may be involved in that as well. >> in that situation, i asked president bush if i can put a camera above the mantel -- actually, i didn't ask. the true story was i asked the staff and they were like, yeah, go ahead. i show up at 5:00 in the morning and i put it there, but i had to get the blessing of the president. so the president walks in at 7:00 in the morning, and the first thing he does, he sits at the desk and looks up and he goes, what the hell is that? they all look at me, right? i said, mr. president, that's for your meeting with the president-elect. he thinks about it for a second and he goes, okay, let's make sure we clear it with the president-elect because we want to make sure they don't think we're trying to spy on them.
but yeah, it was all his blessing for me to do that or else it wouldn't be there. >> yeah. so you said what the rules are, and the rules are if the president approves it, that's the rule. >> nobody can bother you when it's okay with him. >> that is all the time we have, so please give our speakers a round of applause. [ applause ] >> this is not a canned question at all, but lawrence, where can people find you? >> on instagram, jack images. >> perfect. and eric? >> pres photog. >> sharon? >> fs photo works at att.net.
>> and jamal? >> i do have an instagram, actually. i'm at jobie. >> thank you so much for coming out. please make sure to get your parking validated if you haven't already done so at the front desk. have a great evening. you're watching american history tv only on c-span3. >> you're watching american history tv where every weekend we explore our nation's past. all of the programs we air on television are archived at our
website, cspan doicspan.org/his. up next on american history tv, pulitzer prize-winning historians joseph ellis and gordon wood discuss the legacies of the founding fathers. they also explore the relationships between several of these leaders and talk about some of the lesser-known founders. the society of the four arts in palm beach, florida hosted this 90-minute event. >> several thanks are due to folks involved in this program. our first, most important thanks are to ghane gaines who brought us the idea for this series and who helped us with recruiting most of the speakers.