Healthcare.gov Tech Team for Time

Healthcare.gov Tech Team for Time

Six minutes in, the tech saviors of Healthcare.gov (and arguably President Obama's legacy) were getting restless. We were crammed into the Press Secretary's office at the White House with barely enough room to fit the 9' seamless and I had already worked through several options in that improper arithmetic of trying to arrange an odd number of people.

The shoot had come together the previous afternoon in an email from Paul Moakley @ Time inquiring about my availability for the next morning at the White House. I'd be photographing a group of anywhere between three and six people on white seamless. Since the President was traveling that day, we were given the Press Secretary's office to set up in. We got everything set up and ready and in walked seven people, ready to be photographed. As a quick aside, this may be one of my favorite things about editorial photography. Unlike my commercial shoots where things are often planned down to the last minute, there's often a feeling of winging it and improvisation in magazine shoots as the best laid plans quickly fall apart under the new realities of a situation and one is forced to drop everything and pivot to a new idea. It's stressful in the moment, but also seems to engender some of the best ideas going forward. 

Google's Mike Dickerson for Time

Google's Mike Dickerson for Time

That said, I always try to have a Plan B. In this case, as I sensed I was losing the group, I decided to do individual portraits of each subject. It never hurts to give the magazine more than they asked for, and I assumed there'd be different trajectories for each subject in the story that might be well-illustrated by these individual portraits. I couldn't be happier with the way this all ran and my deepest thanks to the great editors at Time who called on me and ran such a nice edit of the images.aThat said, I always try to have a Plan B. In this case, as I sensed I was losing the group, I decided to do individual portraits of each subject. It never hurts to give the magazine more than they asked for, and I assumed there'd be different trajectories for each subject in the story that might be well-illustrated by these individual portraits. I couldn't be happier with the way this all ran and my deepest thanks to the great editors at Time who called on me and ran such a nice edit of the images.

Healthcare.gov Tech Team for Time

Healthcare.gov Tech Team for Time

Alan Greenspan +/- 6 years

Alan Greenspan, for L'Express, September 2007

Alan Greenspan, for L'Express, September 2007

If you're in DC long enough, you tend to circle back and photograph some of the same people. Two weeks ago, I had a quick portrait with former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. The last time I had photographed him was in September 2007. I remember the shoot well, because I had inexplicably been assigned to photograph him the previous day as well for a Brazilian magazine. Both shoots were simply documenting an interview with him but I decided to take a little initiative and see if I could have him sit for me for a quick portrait as well. He obliged and quite willingly played the part of the bemused economist as he stared me down through those thick glasses.

Six years and two months later, I once again eyed him through the viewfinder, getting just a few frames before he went on stage to be interviewed.

Looking at these two images, it's hard for me to unequivocally call one better than the other. The longer I photograph, the more I'm aware of that separation between what I see when I take the picture and the final image. What's in front of me when I photograph feels more like source material for the image rather than the thing I'm attempting to document. But it's how I see this source material that ultimately determines if I'm showing an idea fully and honestly realized. All of which is to say that the second image feels a bit truer to me, more honest, and that might be the only real mark of improvement I'm able to measure.

Alan Greenspan at the Washington Ideas Forum

Alan Greenspan at the Washington Ideas Forum