When Mary Met Kennedy (Part 1: The birth of US Event Photos)
Close your eyes. Imagine a simpler time, a time long before 9/11 — a time when you could actually enter the US Capitol and meet members of congress without going through a strip search or a cavity scan.
Such was how things were back when I was in middle school, and when my mom started this photography business 34 years ago. Carter was President. My dad had just left safe employment as Press Secretary for a New Jersey Congressman with reported mob ties (the Congressman, not my dad). (Note: my dad says I am mistaken in this detail. Probably, but I like it this way. It makes a good story. The rest he says is true.)
My dad started his first communications firm, “Word Power”, which specialized in providing news feeds to industry specific publications.
My favorite publication he wrote for? “Big Load A-Float”, the glossy magazine of the Barge industry. (Again: dad has weighed in here. Seems Big Load A-Float consulted with dad, but was to cheap to hire him. They should have.)
Anyway, I digress. My mom was helping him out in their Capitol Hill Office, when he decided he needed a picture of Senator Kennedy for one of his stories.
“Here,” he said to my mom, “take this camera over to the Senate, and get me a picture of the Senator.”
“I know nothing about photography,” my mom said, “how in the world will I do that?”
“Look,” said my dad, “I put it on auto. Just get up close and click a picture.”
So, off my mom went, with Cannon AE-1 gripped firmly in her hands. She went to a press conference, and started talking her way into the event. Like me, my mom will talk to a tree. As my sister says, if a guy is sitting next to her at an airport, with an ice cream cone stuck firmly in the middle of his forehead, she will say, “you know, you have an ice cream cone stuck to your forehead” while everyone else stares straight ahead and pretends not to see him.
She reached the conference, and started talking to the reporter next to her. They continued talking, chatting about politics (my mom, like me, is a far left liberal), when Senator Kennedy came up, and shook hands with the reporter my mom had been talking with. She started clicking the shutter. Kennedy was just a few feet from her lens. The photos were fantastic.
My dad went crazy when he saw the negatives. “Wow!” he said, “You have a real talent for this!”
Of course, what he didn’t know was the name of that reporter my mom was chatting politics with. The one Kennedy came over to shmooze.
His name was Bob Woodward. And my mom’s business, two and a half decades later, would become US Event Photos.