David Hume Kennerly, a Pulitzer-Prize winner who was President Gerald Ford’s personal photographer, tells Holly Stuart Hughes of Photo District News: “One part of the job [of White House photographer] is to educate his or her boss, the President, on the value of having other people’s points of view so you don’t get accused of being a pawn or a lackey for the administration.
“Put this in big, bold headlines: Limit the number of photo releases from the White House.
“The current administration has been a confetti machine of hand-outs. They have, in my estimation, tried to supplant outside photography by releasing photos almost on a daily basis of stuff that other photographers should be able to cover. That doesn’t include classified meetings – I understand that. But the more photos the White House releases, the less valuable they become, and the more suspect they become. [Using hand-outs] also, I think, erodes the integrity of the White House photo office and of the White House photographer. They make that person look like a PR tool of the administration. The way to offset that is to have a healthy relationship with the White House press photographic press corps and with photographers if they ask for access.
“The current White House photographer doesn’t have the relationship with the president that I did, and has not lifted a finger to help his colleagues, by the way. That has been to the detriment of his boss, I think. By the way, [White House photographer] Eric Draper is a damned good photographer. I’m not taking away from his ability as a photographer, I’m just criticizing his reluctance to help his colleagues. Granted, he doesn’t have that close relationship with the president that I had.”