The White House announced last month that it would be ending the long-running practice of reenacting Presidential speeches for photographs, but stated that they were still working out how the new system would work. Last week it reached an agreement with the White House Correspondents’ Association — rather than reenacting photos for a larger group of photographers, a single photojournalist will be given permission to shoot future speeches as they happen:
[...] news photographers will now be permitted to designate a single representative to act as a “pool” for the entire press corps. The photos taken by the pool representative will be made available to all news organizations. Reporters use a similar pool system for presidential events in which space is limited. [#]
“Hey, no pressure, but the world’s media is depending on your photos!”
The White House is ending its long-running practice of reenacting speeches for still photographs after the controversy was rekindled last week by President Obama’s Osama bin Laden speech.
After Obama’s live, late-evening address from the East Room of the White House on May 1, five photographers were ushered in to shoot pictures as the president stood at the podium and re-read a few lines of his speech – a practice that news organizations have protested for years.
Even though The Associated Press and other news outlets said in captions to the photos that they were taken after the president delivered his address, many people who saw them may have assumed they depicted the speech itself. That raised questions of whether news organizations were staging an event. [#]
Today a spokesperson for the President stated, “We have concluded that this arrangement is a bad idea,” and that the administration is working on a new method for photojournalists to make photographs of actual speeches.
You might not know this, but virtually all of the still photographs you’ve seen in the press showing President Obama announcing the death of Osama bin Laden are staged photographs. Reuters photographer Jason Reed wrote an interesting behind-the-scenes blog post on Monday, explaining:
As President Obama continued his nine-minute address in front of just one main network camera, the photographers were held outside the room by staff and asked to remain completely silent. Once Obama was off the air, we were escorted in front of that teleprompter and the President then re-enacted the walk-out and first 30 seconds of the statement for us.
Apparently this has been standard practice during Presidential speeches at the White House for quite some time, and is meant to prevent the noise of camera shutters from interrupting the televised address. Despite the fact that news organizations try to disclose the nature of the photos in the captions, the fact that these photos are staged doesn’t sit well with some folks. Read more…
The big story around the world this week was the death of Osama bin Laden after a raid of his compound by US Navy SEALs. As a terrific example of how the Internet is transforming the way we view these world events, behind the scenes photos taken at the White House as these events transpired were almost immediately shared on the White House Flickr photostream. One particular photograph (shown above) showing President Obama and his national security team in the Situation Room has been widely published, and may go on to become one of the iconic photographs of Obama’s presidency. It has amassed over two million views in just a couple days, and is reportedly the fastest viewed photo ever on Flickr.
Here’s a interesting little teaser video for “The President’s Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office“, a PBS documentary that premiered on November 24th, 2010. It takes you behind the scenes with Pete Souza, the official White House photographer who follows President Obama around everywhere he goes, capturing tens of thousands of photographs every month.
Here’s a pretty interesting 45-minute interview with Pete Souza, which was done via a live web chat at the end of October. Souza is responsible for the behind-the-scenes photographs posted regularly to the official White House Flickr stream. He talks about everything from how photos are selected to crawling around on the floor of the Oval Office to get the perfect shot.