Thursday, April 24

kodak.com presents
Bob McNeely

Director of White House Photography, 1993-1998
January 18, 2001


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Mirror: Did the Special Prosecutor subpoena any of your photography for evidence?

Bob McNeely: Yes. Many. I appeared in front of one Grand Jury. The FBI interviewed me three times. And I was deposed approximately 5-6 times. The first starting with Vince Foster's suicide. Every attempt was made to interfere with any and all work at the White House.

Beffie: What were some of your favorite pictures you took?

Bob McNeely: The picture on the cover of my book is one of my favorites. The picture that is now loading at the top of the screen is one of the most poignant when I go back and look at it now. I always enjoyed photographing in the large historical rooms of the White House.

Chatter: Why did you decide to leave the White House?

Bob McNeely: I had been there over 5 1/2 years, the hours away from my family, the sense that I had photographed every room and every corner of the White House, and I could see that there would be quite a period of distraction coming up. It felt like the right time to get on with my own life and career.

Hillary 8: Why do so many professionals photograph exclusively with black and white film?

Bob McNeely: The black and white leaves a lot of room for the photographer to show emotion and design, and his own visual relationship to the world. There are some wonderful color photographers. Every month in National Geographic, I am just amazed by the ability to design and capture what they see in color. But I have found over the years that even though I shoot color for clients all the time, when I'm loading film for myself and to photograph my family, that I enjoy shooting black and white.

BW Photog: Can you please tell us about your organization Photo 2000?

Bob McNeely: I started Photo 2000 as a project to document the election of the year 2000. The full title is "Photo 2000, Democracy at the Millennium." I was not able to fund the project as large as I wanted to, but I was able to fairly comprehensively cover the 2000 election myself. Kodak Professional and a company called Berkman & Associates in Oregon underwrote my travel and expenses, and Fortune Magazine ran a 27-picture portfolio in the fall. My website, www.photo2000.org, also displayed pictures and will display more pictures as I edit them and get them scanned and up on the web.

Beffers: Did any of your friends or family give you grief about getting into political photography? If so, how did you handle it? Did they eventually come to support it?

Bob McNeely: My first campaign in 1972, I traveled and photographed with the George McGovern for President campaign. My grandfather in upstate New York, a life-long Republican, thought I had lost my mind. But everyone else understood my fascination with politics, and were just happy that I had a job.

George Morgan: How would you describe your personal relationship with the Clintons? I recall that David Hume Kennedy became quite close with Gerald Ford, for instance.

Bob McNeely: David Hume Kennedy is a very close friend of mine. He was one of my inspirations for doing the job in the White House. But his relationship with Gerald Ford was very unique. It was a product of both his and Gerald Ford's personalities. Bill Clinton and I had a much more professional relationship. Although over the many hours we spent together, I would play many hands of the card game Hearts, and I played golf quite a few times when they needed a fourth. But I would not describe our relationship as a friendship, but more as one of the White House staff who because of his job had a close working relationship with the President.

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