The Schumacher Gallery at Capital University is proud to serve as the opening venue for The American President: Photographs from the archives of The Associated Press, scheduled to open Friday, October 26, and run through Friday, December 7.
Presidential hopefuls burn bright, and then fade. Political parties and poll numbers rise and fall. Presidents pass the torch, administrations change. Through it all, one constant remains: The Associated Press’ coverage of the American president.
Ever since Zachary Taylor and the Whig Party won the White House more than 150 years ago, AP reporters and photographers have been the dominant source of presidential news for media across the United States and around the world.
Much of what we know about President Abraham Lincoln’s masterpiece, the Gettysburg Address, comes from the hand of AP statehouse stenographer Joseph I. Gilbert, who alone transcribed Lincoln’s original text. As President James Garfield lay dying in the White House from an assassin’s bullet, AP reporter Franklin Hathaway Trusdell listened in at the bedroom door for the sound of breathing from the mortally wounded president.
Since AP launched its WirePhoto service in 1935, the news cooperative has been no less committed to photographic coverage of the White House. AP photographers accompany the president everywhere. Wearying routine and photo ops can yield in an instant to breaking news that moves the world and dominates front pages, broadcasts and websites.
“Through their lenses, succeeding generations of AP ‘photodogs’ have captured both the ecstasy and agony of the American Presidency, and contributed in important ways to the historical record of each administration,” writes former President George H.W. Bush in the exhibition’s introduction.
AP photographer Ron Edmonds was focused on President Ronald Reagan as the president walked to his limousine after a 1981 speech in Washington. As Reagan waved to onlookers, Edmonds heard strange pops and held his motor drive shutter down. Edmonds’ exclusive photos of the assassination attempt earned him the Pulitzer Prize.
For the journalists of the world’s oldest and largest news agency, the mandate of covering the White House remains the same as it was in Lincoln’s day: be accurate, be fair, and be fast. For photographers, who can never catch up to a missed opportunity, it means always keeping your eye on the president.
Director of media relations and communications