SEE what all the buzz is about --
READ Kathy M.Y. Pyon's rave review in the Los Angeles Times
WATCH David share some tips from the book on Good Day L.A.
LISTEN to David on Rudy Maxa's World on radio stations across America
SEE what all the buzz is about --
READ Kathy M.Y. Pyon's rave review in the Los Angeles Times
WATCH David share some tips from the book on Good Day L.A.
LISTEN to David on Rudy Maxa's World on radio stations across America
The evening of September 10, 2001 I was having dinner with Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne in the VP residence. They were old friends from the President Ford days when I was the head White House photographer, and Dick Cheney was deputy chief of staff, then the chief after his boss Donald Rumsfeld became Ford's Secretary of Defense, (the youngest ever). Cheney and I probably spent more time with the president than anyone outside of his immediate family, and had become close during those days. We made all the trips, rode in the control car just behind the Secret Service follow-up vehicle, and in the senior staff section of Air Force One. I can only equate the relationship to those I formed with certain friends during the Vietnam War who I was with under enemy fire. Working in the White House sometimes had that same feel to it! Everything that evening couldn't have been more normal, and I even slipped him the resume of a friend who was trying to get a job in the administration. Dick said he would see what he could do, and put it into his briefcase to take to work with him the next day. After what happened the next morning, it's probably still there.
”‹September 11. I was getting ready to head over to the Newsweek in Washington where I had a small office. I was a contributing editor for the magazine, doing special photo stories for them. I had the television on watching the CBS morning show when they went live with a picture of the World Trade Center. Shortly before 9 am they said a plane had crashed into it, and you could see an almost cartoon-like silhouette of an airplane that had gone into the building. Smoke was coming out of the building. I was transfixed by the sight, and a few minutes later, shortly after nine a.m., live and in color, a second plane crashed in the other WTC tower. It was in an instant the most horrifying thing I have ever seen, and instantly replaced Jonestown as my worst visual experience. At that point I started out for the Newsweek office, located only a block and half from the White House. At 9:37 am, shortly before I got to Newsweek, an airliner crashed into the Pentagon. By the time I got up to the office, which has a balcony overlooking the Potomac and the Pentagon a mile or so away, I could see the smoke billowing out. At this point, nobody had any idea if more attacks were coming, so I took photos from my vantage point from across the river, and also kept a camera trained on the U.S. Capitol dome. For all we knew that might be next. I continued shooting photos of the Pentagon, and caught a moment of a helicopter going by, then a few minutes later an F-15 fighter jet made a pass above the burning building. I have what may be the only photo of that happening. For the rest of the day I stayed put at the Newsweek office, out on the deck, waiting for something else to happen. The White House just down the street had been given an evacuation order, but fortunately the Pentagon attack was the one and only hit on the Nation's Capital.
September 12. Early in the morning I talked to my old friend from the Ford White House days, Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and he suggested that I ride over to the Pentagon with him. We drove to the scene where Flight 77 had hit the building. It was still dark out, and the building was lit up by a bank of lights. It was an eerie sight. Moments later Rumsfeld's security guards hustled us out because they had received another threat.
Later that day President George W. Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld surveyed the damage. I've never seen a more resolute expression on a man's face as the president turned and walked away from the scene. At that moment there was no doubt in my mind that the President and Rumsfeld were going to do something about this attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and America itself.
A giant flag is unfurled by some of the firefighters who fought the blaze after the terrorist attack to greet President Bush when he arrived at the Pentagon. It was a deeply emotional moment for those who gathered there.
September 13. I was with Sec. Rumsfeld at the Pentagon when another threat came in. We were hustled out to his car by his security agents, and sped away. He was supposed to have a phone conversation with Secretary of State Colin Powell, but Powell suggested he just come over to the State Department instead. We were a couple of blocks away from Powell's office when Rumsfeld ordered his security guys to pull over. We stopped in front of the Federal Reserve building. "Turn around and head back to the Pentagon," he told them. He looked at me and said, "I'm just not going to let these threats keep me jumping, we're going back." I smiled, and said, "You can let me out here." He laughed, and we went back to his office at the Department of Defense. He never left the building again due to a threat.
I spent the next days inside the Pentagon with Don Rumsfeld, and documented him and his team as they geared up for the strike on Afghanistan. I flew with him to the Middle East before the attack, and was there with him in his office when the operation commenced. I also made several trips to Afghanistan and Iraq with him over the next few years, but that's a story for another day!
Here are some random snaps from my first full day in Warsaw. I strolled around the old city on a Saturday afternoon, a place jumping with tourists, and brides and grooms having their wedding photos taken, a local tradition. I came across a military ceremony that was honoring they fallen at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the most important monument of its kind in the country. Poland suffered the most deaths per capita than any other country during WWII.
The following post contains several unpublished photos that I took of President Ford before, during, and after the pardon of Richard Nixon forty years ago today.
Sunday, September 8, 1974 started off in a fairly routine fashion for President Gerald R. Ford. He attended St. John's church just across Lafayette Square from the White House, then returned to the White House. What happened after that insured that he would not get a term in his own right as President of the United States. He pardoned Richard Nixon.
Before he publicly announced the pardon President Ford made a series of telephone calls to inform the leaders of the House and Senate what he was going to do. He phoned, (in this order), Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, Speaker of the House Carl Albert, Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, House Majority Leader Tip O'Neill, Attorney General William Saxbe, House Majority Whip John McFall, Vice President-designate Nelson Rockefeller, and Senator Barry Goldwater.
Head speechwriter Robert Hartmann and I were the only ones with President Ford in his private hideaway next to the oval office as he prepared to make the fateful announcement. The president sat by himself and looked over the proclamation. He didn't say anything to either of us. The decision was made, he was ready, and moments later he stood up, a look of resolution on his face, and said, "Let's go."
At 11:16 am in the oval office, President Ford reads the announcement before signing the pardon. At the end of his talk he said,
". . . I, GERALD R. FORD, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and seventy-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and ninety-ninth."
Moments after signing the pardon, President Ford walked down the hallway to the office of Bill Timmons who was head of legislative affairs. Timmons was there fielding calls from members of Congress about the pardon, along with Ford's (and Nixon's) chief of staff Alexander Haig, White House counselor Jack Marsh, and Hartmann. What I found shocking was that almost everyone who called in that morning privately told the president that he had done the right thing, but publicly went out and lambasted him. At that point I had quite a bit to learn about real politics. As usual President Ford took it all in stride, but definitely felt the pressure.
President Ford's approval rating plummeted from 71 to 37 after the Nixon pardon, and he wasn't able to politically recover in order to win a term in his own right. There was a lot of piling on among his fellow pols. Sen. Teddy Kennedy in a speech in Los Angeles after the pardon said, "So we operate under a system of equal justice under the law? Or is there one system for the average citizen, and another for the high and mighty." Ouch. Unfortunately that pretty well reflected what the majority of Americans thought at the time, and Ford's popularity was in the cellar.
By 2001 Senator Kennedy had changed his tune, and along with Caroline Kennedy presented President Ford with the JFK Profile in Courage Award.”‹ The award was created in 1989 by members of President Kennedy's family to honor the fallen president and to recognize and celebrate the quality of political courage that he admired most. "For the scientist, the moment is the Nobel or the Lasker; for the journalist, the Pulitzer; the actor, the Oscar. For those in government, it is the Kennedy." Governor Lowell Weicker
Sen. Kennedy said, "Unlike many of us at the time, President Ford recognized that the nation had to move forward, and could not do so if there was a continuing effort to prosecute former President Nixon. His courage and dedication to our country made it possible for us to begin the process of healing and put the tragedy of Watergate behind us."
Caroline Kennedy, now the ambassador to Japan, while presenting the award to President Ford said, "For more than a quarter century, Gerald Ford proved to the people of Michigan, the Congress, and our nation that politics can be a noble profession. As President, he made a controversial decision of conscience to pardon former president Nixon and end the national trauma of Watergate. In doing so, he placed his love of country ahead of his own political future."
President Ford told me later that the Profile in Courage Award was one of the most important things that ever happened to him. He was very emotional when he talked about it, and a tear ran down his cheek as he recounted the experience.
My first trip to Poland was July 28, 1974 as President Gerald R. Ford's White House photographer. He was the second U.S. President to visit the country, Richard Nixon was the first. Ford was given a full-on state ceremony, including a ride through the streets in an open car with Edward Gierek, First Secretary of the Polish United Workers Party, and the man in charge. The route was lined with cheering people waving Polish and American flags. It was a good photo, a scene you will never again see with a U.S. president due to tighter security.
The Poland visit was particularly memorable for me. The motorcade made an unscheduled stop, and President Ford and Gierek got out and started shaking hands with people along the parade route. I hopped out to take photos, but the two men quickly got back in their car and the motorcade took off leaving me stranded. Another limousine was slowly coming by, and I waved it down. There was an older woman sitting alone in the back who looked friendly enough, a guy driving, and another man sitting in the front next to him. I got in the back with her, introduced myself, and thanked her for the lift. She spoke a little English, introduced herself, and to the man in the front. "This is my husband, Piotr Jaroszewicz, President of Poland," she said. He turned and gave me a little wave. Uh oh. I just committed a major security breach. Sure enough, I looked behind us, and there was a follow-up car filled with really pissed-off looking Polish secret service guys. As soon as we stopped, I quickly thanked her for the ride, and made it back unscathed to the U.S. side.
This latest landing in Warsaw was way more uneventful. I flew in from Munich after a non-stop flight to Germany on Lufthansa from the states. The reason for the trip was to photograph another gathering of the Global Ambassadors Program, a Vital Voices and Bank of America partnership designed to provide mentorship opportunities for emerging women leaders around the world. Previous trips to document this excellent program have taken me to Haiti, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Brazil, and Northern Ireland.
A bit of advice an old-timer gave me that I always follow is to get out and shoot right away when you visit someplace you've never been. He was right. Nothing is more exciting and fresher than new sights, and even though I'd been here four decades earlier, those memories are pretty dim. The landscape in Warsaw is dominated by a huge building that was a gift of the Soviets to the Polish people in 1955, (even though the Poles had to pay for it). It was originally called the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture & Science, but Joe's name was dropped way back. Many people around Warsaw resent the monstrous edifice, and as some are prone to say, the best view of Warsaw where you don't see it is from the building itself. As a long-time connoisseur of commie kitsch, I love it! The day I landed in Warsaw I set out to take several views of the place. It was late afternoon, the light was great, and my mission was clear. Day 1 in Warsaw would, even though it was a short one, would be about getting some different views of Uncle Joe's Palace.
There were other things to see around the hotel, this movie poster among them. I always like to capture local contemporary color, or in this case, local black and white!
Yesterday I gave myself a visual challenge: Shoot 20 or more unique, (and hopefully good), photos where I take pictures all the time, and do it in 100 minutes or less. (I had to be somewhere at 9 am!). This is similar to what I did every single day last year in pursuit of pictures for my latest book, "David Hume Kennerly On the iPhone." (It will be out in early October). I chose the Santa Monica Pier because it's close to where I live, is a fun place to shoot, and hanging out on the beach in Santa Monica is not exactly like being thrown in the briar patch! These pictures were all taken with my iPhone between 7:02 am and 8:42 am on September 2, 2014. I now call it, "Kennerly's 100-Minute Photo Workout!"
Whew! That was fun!
Day 5 started with a spectacular cloud-encrusted sunrise that provided a dramatic backdrop to the Hotel Ranga where we were staying. Our destinations today were a geyser, a waterfall, and a bike ride along a lake. Iceland has a multitude of water-related activities, whether it is frozen or just flowing.
The first stop of the day was in the geothermal Haukadalur Valley to see the Great Geysir. I really looked forward to seeing it go off. Old Faithful in Yellowstone is one of my favorite spots, and this one is right up there on the KPS, (Kennerly Photo Scale!).
The Gullfoss waterfall was the next target for our Backroads group, and it's a big one. The fall is on the Hvita River, and plunges 105 feet into a narrow canyon. When you approach it from above, it is a formidable sight, and my way of recording its immensity was to show the people on the rocks above it.
Backroads provides some unique location for lunches, and they are always looking for a place that not only serves great food, but in the mind of this photographer, visual feasts as well. On the way to lunch at a local dairy, we drove by a farm that stood out against the green fields. I shot this photo from the moving van.
The last activity of the day was to bike around Thingvallavatan Lake, located in a Natioanl Park of the same long and unpronounceable name. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the symbolic heart of the Icelandic nation. The country's first general assembly was established here in 930 AD through 1798. Forty per cent of all Icelandic flora is found here, but nothing taller than a dwarf birch. You won't catch a glimpse of an elf reclining underneath that tiny tree, and even though they aren't ever seen, more than half of the population of Iceland believes in their existence. I like that about them.
The ride ended at the Hotel ION for the last night of our trip. Travel blog iEscape called the hotel, "Scandi-chic adventure hotel in a spectacularly surreal landscape of moss-covered lava fields, geysers and steaming rivers, by Thingvellir National Park." It's otherworldly all right, but so is Iceland!
Iceland -- Day 6 (and the last one of the trip).
Day 6, and it was time to head home, but not before one more small adventure. As the rest of the crew went off on a hike, James and I wanted to explore a nearby thermal power plant that was steaming away about a half a mile from the hotel. It was Sunday, and nobody was around. There was a sign in Icelandic, (or in other words, in no known language), on the closed gate in front of the plant. We figured it said either, "Stay Out," or, "You Are Welcome, Come In." We went with the latter. The Icelandic people, after all, are known for their hospitality, and the gate wasn't locked, so in we went. The security was not only negligible, but there were even sheep wandering around in there, and one of them in particular, to its credit, was keeping an eye on us. James left his backpack by the side of the road, and two sheep came over to check it out, no doubt looking for some tasty treat. In Iceland I bet kids use the excuse, "A sheep ate my homework." The geothermal facility was a photo dream, and on top of that, produces clean energy. Perfect combination. James was using the Hasselblad that his grandfather gave him, and I was shooting in black and white using both my Canon 5D Mark III and the ever-present iPhone. We both made a few goo frames.
I highly recommend Iceland to anyone who hasn't been. I also am a big fan of Backroads, and suggest that you check them out for any trip you are thinking about with the family or friends, almost anywhere on earth. We're already planning our next one with them!
Day Four started with close encounters of the cow kind. A large herd of the critters gathered behind a fence to watch as we prepared to leave for the day's activities. James Kennerly was the first to spot them, and in no time they had lined up behind him as if he was their paramount leader, (cows will follow anyone!). Rebecca went lips-to-nose with one of the gentle beasts, followed by Jackson Watson who was eye-to-eye with another.
After the cow confab we embarked on a "super jeep" expedition, (meaning a vehicle built high above the ground in order to go through streams and navigate the really rocky roads), to a remote area near the active Katla Volcano in the Thorsmork Valley. The valley is protected from the elements by the surrounding glaciers and mountains, and has a warmer climate where flowers, mosses, and ferns grow. The area is crisscrossed by glacial streams, and we had to get over them with plenty of help from our Icelandic guides, who also drove the big vehicles.
We entered a steep green canyon that was breathtaking. The locals refer to it as the "Lord of the Rings" canyon, but as long as we're throwing around movie analogies, to me it looked like "Jurassic Park."
Even the big trucks sometimes have a hard time making it across the glacial rivers, and need a little help. Our number two vehicle got stuck, and had to be pulled out. The river rose almost a foot from when we crossed it the first time to a few hours later when we came back. The almost bad news was that my computer bag was in the back of the black truck. It got wet, but fortunately my computer survived.
The next blog coming soon: Iceland -- Day 5
We started our day by strapping on crampons and heading up to the Falljokull Glacier (actually, "JÃ¶kull" means "glacier" in Icelandic). A river runs under the glacier, and most of our merry band filled their water bottles from the frigid, sparkling, delicious stream. From where we stood, the top of the glacier field is filled with crumbling wall, and numerous crevasses and water cauldrons dot the landscape. One of my favorite finds were "glacier mice." The Audubon Magazine said, "The frigid, barren expanses of glaciers may not be as hostile to life as long thought--bizarre creatures have been discovered thriving inside mysterious balls of moss called "glacier mice. A pebble serves as the anchor, with moss growing around it." Our guide said these green mice take 40+ years to develop, and are very friendly . . .
All that glacial walking left us hungry, so our next stop was for lunch at a farmhouse. An outstanding feature of the place was that it had the most extraordinary backyard. Beautiful natural volcanic sculpture jutted out of the landscape, and made for a dramatic scene. James shot a few photos of the natural wonders with his Hasselblad, and also memorialized four of the girls who were with us.
Then it was on to the next location, (our Backroads shepherds Jillian, Zuzanna, and Eva), kept us busy, but not exhausted!). We were off to Dyrholaey, a 400-foot-high coastal promontory on the southernmost point in Iceland. I was excited to see the puffins living in the cliffs, because shooting birds, (photographically speaking), is one of my real pleasures.
Coming up soon, Iceland - Day 4!
On Day 2 of our Iceland trip we trekked into Skaftafell National Park, part of the Vatnajokull National Park, to see the Svartifoss waterfall. The rushing river cascades over black hexagonal lava columns, and reminded me of the Giant's Causeway, a similar natural wonder that I saw earlier this year in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The Causeway is comprised of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, that look remarkably similar to those in Iceland. Both were formed by volcanoes. The Causeway is also close by the town of Bushmills, famous for Irish whiskey, but as near as I could tell the two are unrelated!
Each outing on the trip always includes at least one world-class Backroads guide and leader. Eva was with us on the hike into the Vatnajokull National Park to look at the falls.
When I'm shooting photos I try to find scenes that seem to reflect each other in nature. These clouds hanging over the HvannadalshnÃºkur mountain mirrored the HvÃ¶nn viÃ° Systrafoss plants in a meadow far below. I shot from a similar angle in both black and white and color using my iPhone. I ran both because I couldn't decide which one I liked the most. (I usually recommend that everyone pick one best, so I'm breaking my own rule!).
HvannadalshnjÃºkur is a pyramidal peak on the northwestern rim of the summit crater of the Ã–rÃ¦fajÃ¶kull volcano in Iceland and is the highest point of the island. I was told this is a rare view because it's normally covered by clouds. It was truly spectacular, and I'm glad the weather cooperated for this Ansel Adams moment.
Iceland -- Day 3 of the Backroads trip coming along tomorrow!
David Hume Kennerly is like Forrest Gump, except he was really there.
- JAMES EARL JONES
David Kennerly once said to me, ”˜In photography everything can be taught, except how to see.' In his photographs”¦ we see people and historical events through the keen, alert eye of an eminent camera artist.
- HERMAN WOUK, / Author of “The Winds of War
Kennerly modestly refers to himself as a ”˜political photographer.' That's true, as far as it goes. But it's like calling Matthew Brady a ”˜war photographer' or Thomas Eakins a ”˜Philadelphia portrait painter.' Kennerly is as good as it gets in a craft he defined.
- HOWARD FINEMAN / Editorial director of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group
David's work is of the highest caliber, and he is one of the great American photographers. His specialty is photographing people, and nobody does it better.
- JULES & GEDEON NAUDET / Independent filmmakers and Executive Producers of Discovery Channel documentary “The Presidents Gatekeepers”
Pulitzer Prize winning photographer David Hume Kennerly's lifestyle photography used in Girl Scounts major national advertising campaigns and on the covers of our iconic Girl Scout Cookie Boxes redesign in 2012, captured the spirit and determination of the organization through his delightful portraits of our girls in action.
- MIRRA HERNANDEZ / Marketing Brand Manager Girl Scouts of the USA
Kennerly has proved to be an exceptional resource for Bank of America, specifically as the portraits he takes for us go directly to the heart and character of the people he photographs. He is also the consummate professional who delivers his work on or before any deadline that we require.
- PAMELA SEAGLE / Bank of America Senior Vice President - Enterprise Marketing
He possesses the rare ability to synthesize the heart and soul of an individual or situation into singular compelling images.
- MICHELLE NUNN / CEO Points of Light