Walk Through Washington:

Last night I did a presentation at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. After it was over someone asked me about my travel schedule and whether or not I get a chance to shoot while I’m on the road. The short answer is “Yes,” but most of the time that means simply grabbing an image here and there. It is rare I get a chance to really go look, see, work, shoot, etc.

Recently I was in Washington DC for Fotoweek DC and DID have a small window to get out and shoot. When I say small window I mean a few hours one afternoon. So, I tried to take advantage and “walk with a purpose” if you will. The purpose in this case was Bob McNeely. Bob is a photographer, a good one, and has a place firmly cemented in the history of American politics and American photography, not to mention he was friends with Hunter Thompson, which in my book is maybe the coolest thing ever. Bob was President Clinton’s photographer, but more importantly he is a very nice guy who is very fun to spend time with and is loaded with all kinds of great stories. In addition he has a true love of photography, and I say this not as a obvious trait. There are plenty of successful photographers who don’t have a love for the game. Remember, I assisted for years, I’ve worked for a few. When I hang out with Bob I can feel how entwined he is with the idea of really being a photographer. It’s not what he does it is who he is.

Whenever I visit Washington I walk through the monuments. This is really the only city I do this, and I can’t entirely tell you why. I just do. I called Bob to see if he wanted to join me and thus began our little stroll. Walking these particular streets with Bob was fantastic, and gave me a brief glimpse into the life of a Washington insider.

I tried to make images that gave me a feeling of our surroundings and the particular happenings of the day, which in this case was the beginnings of the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam Memorial. The photography of the Vietnam War was what convinced me I needed to be a photographer, so for me particular place has a special meaning. Being November, the light looks and feels late well before it’s time, so I found myself with a mood I could work with.

You never know what you are doing to see in this section of the city. This section is emotional ground, it’s historical and magnetic. A lot of important feet have covered this turf and for some reason I feel very much at home in this place. It’s rare I get to shoot with anyone else, so it was fun spending time with Bob, learning a bit more and just getting to hang out. His place in this city, and our industry, is unique. Bob did the official Obama Inauguration book and I’m sure has much more in the works in the very near future.

9 Responses to “Walk Through Washington:”

  1. bob soltys says:

    Thanks for the post … yes, the monuments, and especially the Lincoln Memorial, are a great place for people photography …

    maybe you got your love of walking the monuments from Clint Eastwood’s “In the Line of Fire” quip about sitting at the Lincoln Memorial at sunset

    Nice to see Bob McNeely is still shooting film (at least that looks like an M6 or M4)

  2. Charlene says:

    Loving the contemplative tone of this set Dan. Very different to your last few posts, and feels like you did actually get a real respite from all the hecticness.

    Bob was a friend of Hunter S Thompson? Whoa!!!!!!!!

    • Charlene says:

      As an aside, I have also been told that Washington is a brilliant place to be during cherry blossom season, one of the things I have a great desire to experience, whether in Japan or elsewhere. Have you been in Washington during this time?

    • Smogranch says:

      Charlene,
      Yes I have. It beautiful. I’m not intrigued by it photo wise, but it is well worth seeing. I never seem to be able to capture anything that makes me feel like standing there and seeing them.

    • Smogranch says:

      Charlene,
      Yes, it was so nice to get a few minutes out. And the weather was PERFECT.

  3. Very nice enjoyable walk through Washington via these images and your story. Bob McNeely … Clinton photographer and Hunter’s friend. Legendary stuff.

  4. mike a says:

    Man I bet that was cool. It is a neat place to photograph especially with a legend.

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