White House Photographer Offers a ‘Front Row Seat’ to the Presidency

Mar 31, 2013 11:14am

This week, our Sunday Spotlight shines on Eric Draper, who documented eight years of history as the chief White House photographer for President George W. Bush.

With unparalleled access to the president, Draper captured the full scope of Bush’s time in office — from the intensity of 9/11 and visits with wounded veterans, to quiet moments on his family ranch in Crawford, Texas, or praying with the family of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“My job was not to be a distraction. My job was to purely document,” Draper told ABC News. “That was a very unique role in the White House … to have that much access to the president … and not to be a participant in the meetings, but to be an observer.”

Draper selected from nearly four million images for his new book, “Front Row Seat: A Photographic Portrait of the Presidency of George W. Bush.”

See the stories behind some of Draper’s photos below:

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ERIC DRAPER/WHITE HOUSE PHOTO

“The cover of the book has an image of the president outside the Oval Office, walking through the colonnade,” Draper said. “There’s definitely some intensity in his expression. There’s something thoughtful going on at that moment.”

“This was a moment in between meetings early in the morning, and the light just was perfect. And I just had to go out and follow him. Typically, I would try to kind of gauge when I would kind of intrude on his personal time, and he went out for a breather, but the light was just too beautiful. And I had to go out and make the picture. And he walked by me without even looking at me.”

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ERIC DRAPER/WHITE HOUSE PHOTO

“The president and the First Lady are sitting on this very large couch in Buckingham Palace. And what’s neat about Buckingham Palace is that it’s just like the White House, except everything’s bigger,” Draper said.

“They were like kids, they were having fun,” he said. “They were guests of the Queen, and they’re about to leave for a black-tie dinner that night. So they were walking around, and they were like, ‘Oh, Eric, come over and take our picture on this couch.’ And so it made for a fun moment.”

 

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ERIC DRAPER/WHITE HOUSE PHOTO

“One day in the Oval Office — I believe this was in 2002 — a box arrived, and it was a gift,” Draper said. “This is early in the morning, no one else is around. He opens the box and he pulls out this boxing robe … and on the back, it had his name, ‘George W. Bush.’”

“Of course he tries it on. And he’s looking around for someone to show it to,” Draper said. “In that image, he’s opening the Oval Office door looking through the hallway to see if anyone’s walking around, because he really wanted to show it off … A lot of those moments I had to wait, just hang out and wait, and luckily I was there to capture that funny moment.”

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