Photographers' Blog

Bush years: First-time history

Larry Downing is a Reuters senior staff photographer assigned to the White House. He shares that duty with three other staff photographers. He has lived in Washington since 1977 and has been assigned to cover the White House since 1978. He worked for United Press International and Newsweek Magazine before joining Reuters as a stringer in 1997 and then as staff in 1999.

As the final moments of President Bush’s administration wind down, I look forward to Barack Obama’s historic inauguration. Having grown up in America as a child of the 50’s, I found the odds impossible that he, or any other African American, would ever win the presidency in my lifetime.

Early on election day last November I drove with my wife from the suburbs in Northern Virginia to Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in the Anacostia district of Washington D.C. to watch as thousands of African Americans stood in line to cast their vote on a cold, raw morning. It was heartwarming to watch.

Obama will be the fifth president I’ve been assigned to photograph at the White House in the last 32 years. Each presidency was unique and enjoyable to document. I remember flying back and forth aboard Air Force One with President Carter while he brokered peace between Egypt and Israel in the late 70’s. I then documented his success on the North Lawn of the White House with a three-way handshake between Egypt’s Sadat, Israel’s Begin and Carter.

Less than two years later, the American Embassy in Iran was overrun and embassy personnel were paraded in the street in blindfolds. Carter barricaded himself in the deep bunkers of the White House and lost his bid for re-election.

Riding with Obama – Bill Clinton

Reuters Washington staff photographer Jason Reed is traveling with the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama through election day.

Bill Clinton finally stands on the same stage with and endorses Barack Obama in the flesh – just days before election day.

Once a political foe of Barack Obama as the former president actively and energetically embraced the presidential primary campaign of his wife, Hillary Clinton, it was only a matter of time before former President Bill Clinton had to rally in person behind the Democratic party’s presidential nominee, Barack Obama.

They came… we saw… she conquered…

The State visit to Britain by French President, Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni drew widespread attention not the least from the massed ranks of photographers and televison crews keen to record the couple’s every step.  No cliche was left unturned as members of the press vied with one another to describe their partnership.

But… a state visit by a French President would always draw interest, and with the added glamour angle you had a winning formulae.  The drab world of formal visits was to be given a makeover - I for one hoped so. In my view, the visit was not so much a breath of fresh air blowing away the cobwebs, but a mix of contrasting elements standing together. With this visit we hoped to  see contrasts of age, style and appearance. In addition the sense of anticipation was heightened because the people involved represented the historic differences between the English and the French. Would they come together in a new entente cordiale? Would the charge be led by the French President? Not on your life, it was led by his wife, the amabassador extraordinaire.

Did Carla Bruni-Sarkozy disapoint? Here are the photographs, judge for yourselves.

  • Editors & Key Contributors