Only human: A photographic look at the Bush presidency

April 24, 2013

Washington D.C.

By Stelios Varias

In the eight years that George W. Bush served as the 43rd U.S. president, Reuters’ photographers were witness to big events and the daily grind that is full-time presidential coverage. Along the way, they amassed a collection of truly memorable images. As their longtime colleague and picture editor, it has been my pleasure to see their images come across the Reuters’ wire and land on the fronts of newspapers and online home pages.

With the Bush presidential center scheduled to be dedicated in Dallas on April 25, I’ve assembled a few of my favorites from our photographers.

President Bush will be most remembered for steering the United States through the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, from the day he was told “America is under attack” by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, to when he stood on the crumpled remains of a fire truck at New York’s Ground Zero and told the country through a borrowed megaphone that the United States would respond.

Looking back I see a trail of memorable images. Some of the strongest pictures for me are of what I like to think of as in-between moments, that reveal more about the man than the office.

As candidate-with-baby photos go, they don’t get any better that this Jim Bourg image of Bush handing back a crying infant.

Though presidential departures (and arrivals) are part of a White House photographer’s daily regimen, occasionally we’re afforded an opportunity for something more than a wave hello or goodbye. Here, Kevin’s use of light makes for a striking image of what many consider a “routine” photo opportunity.

Here again, Larry Downing’s sharp focus and quick reactions make for a very pleasing and interesting photograph.

I consider this Kevin Lamarque image as the gold standard of Rose Garden turkey pardoning moments.

Another funny Rose Garden moment captured by Jason Reed.

Often, a good Bush facial expression proved to be the most effective story-teller.

This Larry Downing photo of an exhausted President Bush boarding Air Force One in New Orleans after speaking about Hurricane Katrina’s damage, is an excellent example of when a face isn’t needed to carry the story.

This creatively cropped Jason Reed photo of a White House staff member walking off with a portrait of then outgoing President Bush the day before President Obama’s inauguration tells a departure story as only Jason could.

Thanks to White House correspondent Steve Holland for contributing to this blog.


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by far the worst president in living memory.
well manipulated by Cheney and Rumsfeld, he left two useless wars and a financial collapse behind him.

Posted by phoen2011 | Report as abusive

Brilliant pics., i think that here, we are appreciating the commendable work these photographers have done… rather than President Bush’s presidency. Hence the above comment is uncalled for…

Posted by Daler | Report as abusive