Presidential photography

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 9:24 AM | comments: 0

One of the things that I've really enjoyed about having Netflix streaming to the Xbox is access to documentaries. I love docs, but I rarely see them on TV because I don't know when they're on. Last weekend, we watched The President's Photographer, a doc on the official White House photographers of the last few decades. It was absolutely fascinating.

Naturally they had the most access to Obama as the sitting president, but tried to cover everything back to LBJ. He was among the first to offer really unprecedented access to the office, and for the most part, every president except for Nixon since has allowed the same kind of access. These guys really have a great deal of responsibility in terms of documenting history.

The photos that really stuck with me were those from the day of 9/11, particularly on Air Force 1. Can you even imagine documenting everything going on there in the midst of a crisis, with fighter jets just off the wing of the aircraft? In some ways, the calm of the skies in that scenario would be more scary than active warfare around you on the ground.

Also interesting is the impact of digital photography. The Obama presidency will easily be the most photographed in history because they're shooting entirely with digital cameras now. All of those images, even the bad ones, get committed to the National Archives. There aren't many photography gigs where your work has to be preserved by law!

If you have access to Netflix, do check the show out. I really enjoyed it.


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