The President's Photographer

SAT, NOV 6, 2010 (44:54)

John Bredar, executive producer of the National Geographic Television special, The President's Photographer: 50 Years in the Oval Office, leads a discussion with former White House photogaphers David Valdez (George H.W. Bush), Eric Draper (George W. Bush), Robert McNeely (Bill Clinton) and David Hume Kennerly (Gerald Ford), about the unique challenges and circumstances of photographing the most powerful person in the country.

+ BIO: John Bredar

John Bredar has produced more than 20 films for National Geographic Television, exploring often quirky topics ranging from cockroaches to sumo wrestlers to combat cameramen to the White House. He is also the author of the National Geographic book about the White House photographers.

+ BIO: David Hume Kennerly

David Hume Kennerly has been photographing history for four decades. Contributing Editor for Newsweek Magazine, Kennerly continues to travel the globe to produce insightful images of important historic events. His career began in Roseburg, Oregon, where he published his first picture in the high school paper when he was just 15 years old. His first official photographer jobs--as a staff photographer for the Oregon Journal and then the Portland Oregonian--led him in to a position with United Press International (UPI).

Kennerly won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1972 for his remarkable photographs of the Vietnam war. After the war, Kennerly returned to the United States for Time Magazine, and in mid-1973 and threw himself into the domestic battles then raging in Washington. After Richard Nixon resigned, Kennerly was on the South Lawn of the White House as the soon-to-be ex-President departed. His historic photo of Nixons wave goodbye, taken when Kennerly was just 27 years old, is one of the dozens of his images that have helped define American photojournalism.

In the year 2000, Kennerly traveled more than 250,000 miles to 38 states and seven countries for his fourth book, Photo du Jour: A Picture-A-Day Journey through the First Year of the New Millennium, published in October 2002 by the University of Texas Press.

+ BIO: Robert McNeely

Robert McNeely is an American photojournalist and Vietnam veteran. He chronicled President Clinton’s march to the White House. For the next six years, each morning he would shoot in black and white (other members of the White House photo staff shot in color), in order to make a historic record of virtually every meeting, every detail of the president’s daily life.

His interest in photography began while he was serving in the US Army in Southeast Asia. When he returned to the US he took several workshops at the Center of the Eye in Aspen, Colorado and then began to photograph full time. In 1972 his fascination with politics started when he became a staff photographer on the McGovern for President campaign. In 1977 he entered the White House as a staff photographer with a primary responsibility to cover Vice-President Mondale. Throughout the 1980's and early 90's he traveled the world for editorial and corporate clients. In 1992 he became the campaign photographer for Bill Clinton and entered the White House with Clinton as his personal photographer. His work from the years with President Clinton was published in the book "The Clinton Years".

Upon leaving the White House he began work on a two year documentary project called Photo 2000 that documented the election cycle of the year 2000 at the local, state and national level. This work was published all over the world and in a 30 page, award winning portfolio in Fortune Magazine. Since then he has continued to photograph personal projects and for editorial and commercial clients. He also lectures and teaches workshops on documentary photography.

+ BIO: Eric Draper

Eric Draper was the White House Photo Director and personal photographer for U.S. President George W. Bush. Draper worked for the Associated Press as a news photographer prior to joining the White House.

His many assignments included the 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns, the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, the Kosovo conflict in 1999 and the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.

Over the years, Draper has also worked as a staff photographer for The Seattle Times, the Pasadena Star-News and the Albuquerque Tribune.

He won the Associated Press Managing Editors' Award for three consecutive years, the 1999 National Headliner Award and was named 1992 Photographer of the Year by Scripps-Howard Newspapers. He is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach.

+ BIO: David Valdez

David Valdez has been a professional photographer for over 30 years. He was Manager of Advertising and Publicity Photography for the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Florida. Prior to that he served President George Herbert Walker Bush as Director of the White House Photo Office and as his personal photographer. David has had numerous photos published in Life, Time, HOLA, U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek. In 1997 his book, George Herbert Walker Bush a Photographic Profile was published by Texas A&M University Press.

David served as Vice President of Business Development for Blue Pixel digital experts, a digital photography consulting firm based in Annapolis, Maryland. He continues as an advisor to Blue Pixel.Their clients included Microsoft, Nikon, Adobe, The Department of Housing and Urban Development, The United States Navy, and the Republican National Committee, to name a few. Currently David is Director of Electronic and Visual Information for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. David has been a featured speaker at the Smithsonian, Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Eddie Adams Workshop and the annual Photo Marketing convention. He is also on the advisory board for the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication at Franklin Pierce College.

As a digital photographer, David enjoys shooting all kinds of subject matter from a unique perspective. He then turns his original photos into beautiful digital art. His work is on exhibit at ArtFX Gallery, 45 West Street, Annapolis, Maryland. He has been their featured artist twice, January 2003 and April 2004.

Partner
WETA
Series
PBS White House Photographers Series