The President's Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office

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9781426206764: The President's Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office

Official companion to the National Geographic Television Special airing in November 2010, The President's Photographer is the intimate story of the men and women who are both visual historians and key links between the public and the Presidents. Like the film, this behind-the-scenes invitation features the images and recollections of the nine professionals who have served as official White House photographers. (President John F. Kennedy appointed the first, Cecil Stoughton, in 1960; all predecessors were with the U.S. Navy or Park Service). Five of the nine are alive today, and in rare personal interviews, they recount the stories behind the remarkable photographs. Expressive close-ups of presidents reveal moments of joy, reflection, and turmoil over public issues and private challenges. Unexpected angles cast new light on historic events. Through both iconic and little-known images, this book offers a fresh perspective on life and work behind the famous facade of the White House.

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From The President's Photographer
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National Geographic has been giving custom map cabinets to U.S. presidents since shortly after the start of World War II, when the Society presented one of the finely crafted pieces to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. On June 10, 2009, the tradition continued. "The Obama family loves maps," the President said. (Pete Souza/The White House) Cecil Stoughton’s photographic coverage evolved from making the typical ceremonial images of previous administrations to documentary-style pictures like this one of John F. Kennedy and his daughter, Caroline, aboard a yacht in Hyannis Port, Mass., in August 1963. (Cecil Stoughton, White House/JFK Library, Boston, p. 8) Cecil Stoughton’s images of the trip to Texas by John F. Kennedy provide key beats in the story on the fateful day of the assassination. Later, Stoughton made perhaps the most famous--and most important--image ever taken by a presidential photographer as LBJ is sworn in on Air Force One. (Cecil Stoughton, White House/JFK Library, Boston p. 57) David Hume Kennerly made this picture the day before the Carters moved into the White House. Taking a last tour of the West Wing, Betty Ford told him she’d always wanted to dance on the Cabinet Room table. A former Martha Graham dancer, she slipped off her shoes, hopped on the table and struck a pose. (David Hume Kennerly/Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library p. 133)

A number of Bob McNeely’s images show President Clinton and the First Lady fully engaged on issues together, as in this moment when they are listening to a briefing on board Air Force One. (Robert McNeely/William J. Clinton Presidential Library, p. 209) George W. Bush chief photographer Eric Draper’s images from 9/11 tell a riveting story. He described it as one of his hardest days as a photographer. Desperate for information that morning, President Bush takes notes while TV news coverage of the burning towers plays in the background. (Eric Draper/ George W. Bush Presidential Library, p. 172) Considered by many to be one of his iconic images--so far--Pete Souza captured a private moment between President Obama and the First Lady on a freight elevator in Washington’s convention center, Inaugural night 2009. (Pete Souza, The White House, p. 6) President Obama has said this is one of his favorite photos. White House staffer Carlton Philadelphia brought his family in to meet the President, and at one point, his son declared that he’d been told that he and the President had the same haircut. President Obama bent over so the child could get a better look. (Pete Souza, The White House, p. 24)

About the Author:

John Bredar is Executive Producer of NGT and a multiple Emmy Award winner. Since joining NGT in 1989, he has produced more than 20 films exploring topics from cockroaches and black widow spiders to sumo wrestlers and combat cameramen. He is producer/director/writer of National Geographic's Inside the White House, the highest-rated PBS program for the 1996-97 season. In 2005, he received the Emmy award for Best Director for the National Geographic special Field of Honor, an unprecedented and poignant look at Arlington National Cemetery. He holds a master's degree in U.S. diplomatic history from Johns Hopkins University. Photojournalist Pete Souza was named Obama's White House photographer January, 2009. Souza has been a photojournalism professor at Ohio Univeristy and a photojournalist for the Chicago Tribune. His book, The Rise of Barack Obama, published in July 2008, hit the New York Times bestseller list.

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