PBS Presents Portraits of Presidential Photographers

OneModelPlace.com members know that photography can tell all kinds of stories, from fashion to glamour to editorial scenarios. Now they will get the rare chance to hear the untold story of the President’s photographers when a new PBS documentary, “THE PRESIDENT’S PHOTOGRAPHER, A NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SPECIAL,” is presented on November 24, 2011 airing on PBS. Well-known photographers will share their stories as witnesses to some of the most memorable and remarkable events, tragedies and triumphs in modern American history.

As reported by Valerie Milano of HollywoodToday.net, photographers have been in every professional meeting as well as intimate moments with the sitting President for over 50 years. The film begins with President Obama’s photographer Pete Souza, who has become a trusted friend. Souza has been capturing unique footage of the Obama years from the South Lawn to meeting with Heads of State, covering moments the public would never be privy to and preserving history. The digital images are never allowed to be erased from the disks and belong the National Archives: we, the people.

Souza was the White House photographer for Ronald Reagan for 6 years during his presidency and was the official photographer for his funeral in 2004. On the day Obama was sworn into the Senate, Souza was there and travelled with him as the Senator from Illinois and is at the White House recording history right now.

Photographer Eric Draper, who covered the Olympics, World Cup, the OJ Simpson trial and the war in Kosovo before working for George Bush is the only chief photographer to have covered two full presidential terms. Bush told him on day one: “Welcome aboard, Eric. We will see the world together.” Draper was with Bush on 9/11, and recorded the President in front and behind the scenes as the events unfolded. He was the first photographer named by the President as a commissioned officer.

David Hume Kennerly has won the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography for his coverage of the Vietnam War in 1972 and has been recording history for over 40 years. As President Gerald Ford’s photographer he amassed a very intimate collection ever made of a President and First Family. Kennerly took over the day following Nixon’s resignation, his first frame capturing Nixon looking back upon the White House, and from there on out became a member of the Ford family.

Being the President’s Photographer is a hectic schedule, and most of them have staff photographers to help out. Kennerly explained the history to reporters saying, “I kept photographers, two from the Nixon time, one of whom had worked with Johnson. And my photographic hero was Yoichi Okamoto, who was LBJ’s photographer. And I think to understand this position, you have to understand the history of it. Up until LBJ, the photographic duties were carried out by the military. And they had very little access.”

Draper explained to HT his role with the Bush White House saying, “The best part about being a White House photographer is the fact that you’re primarily — you’re there to observe. You’re not there to participate. So, you know, being a fly on the wall, or the way I like to put it is a piece of furniture in the room, you’re just always there. And everyone respects your role. Everyone knows that you’re there to record history. “To the best of my ability, my goal was to document — make photos that can be easily interpreted later, like I would think about maybe injecting some artistic style but thinking people really need to understand what’s happening here. So I would step back.”

Kennerly too explained “We went on one tour that was described — it felt like the tour of the worlds’ despotic leaders, the mid-’70s, but they were great subjects, and I was just so happy to be in the room unobtrusive and being there and not getting kicked out, and some really sad days, like the day that Ford lost. I think my pictures, many of them were taken through tears. I felt that — but I still shot, and it what you were seeing, was what was going on. It was painful, but I was hired to do that.”

Photo Caption: At the TCA Summer Press Tour in Los Angeles on August 5, 2010, presidential photographers Eric Draper and David Kennerly discuss  the stories behind documenting the lives of American presidents.

Read the full story at HollywoodToday.net

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