DC Here and There

Michelle Rhee

Michelle Rhee for the Washingtonian

Like many DC residents (44% to be exact), I was saddened to see Mayor Adrian Fenty voted out of office, mostly because of Michelle Rhee. DC has had its share of polarizing leaders, but Rhee might take the cake for her aggressive approach to reforming schools that included firing under performing teachers, closing schools and battling the teacher's union to eliminate tenure.

In short, she got things done, and the improved student test scores during her time as the DC School Chancellor proved her out. So it was exciting to get a call from the Washingtonian about photographing her, just a few weeks before she left town, went on Oprah, and began her new school reform venture.

As usual, it was a brief shoot, made even briefer by a non-working elevator that meant hauling equipment up three flights of stairs. After this unscheduled workout and a quick setup, I ended up with about ten minutes with Mrs. Rhee and guided her around the room through a few different setups before she had to leave.

In these situations, I'm always wrestling with really working a single setup versus pushing for multiple looks and hoping one comes together. Either way, I'm often walking that fine line between spontaneity and preparation, hoping for a moment, but realizing the limits of these brief interactions and what can be extracted from them visually.

In the end, these are sad images to me, of what could have been for DC public schools.

Michelle Rhee