I was photographing the President on the occasion of
his 100th day in office for the cover of FORTUNE magazine. This was his
first private sitting for a portrait as President by a photographer
other than a White House staffer.
After being thoroughly searched by amiable Secret Service agents, we
were allowed onto the floor of the hotel where Reagan was staying in Los
Angeles, before heading back to his Rancho Del Cielo in Santa Barbara.
My assistants and I set up a makeshift studio in a room adjacent to the
Presidential suite. I had made arrangements for one assistant to take
some snapshots showing me photographing the President. Besides my two
assistants, I augmented all my equipment with doubles in case something
might break down. You don't get a second chance in a situation like
days earlier, at Reagan's ranch, I was included in the pool of press
photographers covering the signing ceremony for a new tax bill. I made a
nice color headshot of a smiling and exuberant President from a distance
away using a 35mm Nikon and a 180mm f2.8 telephoto lens. I sent the film
to Fortune. They loved that shot and decided to use it on the cover
instead of a studio-style portrait.
Of course, I was still scheduled for my private session with the
President later in the week. I was told it wasn't necessary now! What
was I to do; call the White House Press Office and say I'd decided to
cancel my appointment with the President? Like hell! So I said nothing.