An intimate look at history, courtesy of David Hume Kennerly

For a photojournalist, the question is never about can they get the access to the get shot.
That is the job. They’ll be there.
It’s what they do once they get there.
In the 60′s and 70′s Southeast Asia was the horrific theater for war, and photojournalists were on the front lines, providing the most intimate look of war to those around the world.
David Hume Kennerly won a Pulitzer Prize in 1971 for his depiction of the war at that time.
Although that was a huge honor and show of respect for his work, his photographs before that time captured an America during it’s most turbulent domestic period.
The good times, with his photographs of the people like Miles Davis, The Rolling Stones, the finally winning NY Mets in 1969, to one of our worst moments, as he had photographed Sen. Robert F. Kennedy moments before he was gunned down at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

© Damon Webster

He is also well known as the chronicler of the Gerald Ford presidency, as the personal photographer to the President.


© David Hume Kennerly

On the First Lady’s last day in the White House, Betty Ford, the former Martha Graham dancer, decided to have a few turns on the Cabinet Room table.
So when we speak about access, this man had photographic access to the most powerful man on earth and his entourage.

Dick Cheney, who has been a fairly colorful member of the Ford and Bush Presidencies, may not have been willing to appear in a bumper car for many other shooters.

© David Hume Kennerly

These kind of images, prove more than the simple access of a photojournalist.
His genuine style, and very honest personality, put his subjects at ease and they are portrayed as the very real people they are.

Even when his assignment is to catch the historic moment of 5 living US Presidents posed together, you catch the reality of the moment as these powerful men, kind of break rank a bit, to get real with the camera.


© David Hume Kennerly

For us, there are no more intimate moments, insight, emotional record, than his work on the Obama inauguration.
There is a book filled with his coverage, but here is a sample image of the President and his wife, about to start the inaugural ball circuit. The loving joyous moment fulfilling the “Yes, We Can” long, campaign.


© David Hume Kennerly

And photographers, we always like to look twice at an image: once, to let it wash over you for exactly what is presented; and another time to step outside and see what the photographer may have done to achieve the image.
This is a wide angle lens here, and his proximity to his subjects is pretty darn close. You don’t this kind of photograph from being pushy. You get this from being an artist, and respecting your subjects.

We’ve had the pleasure to meet Mr. Kennerly a number of times, and even do a video interview with him, which will be posted shortly.

To give you another idea of the man, here is how he resigned from the White House staff:

“Dear Mr. President, Effective January 20, 1977, at twelve noon, I hereby resign my position at the White House. It’s been real! David Hume Kennerly”

Who knows what brings someone to such a cavalier attitude: Seeing the horrors of war? Witnessing history as a profession? being close on a daily basis to the most powerful people on earth?
And we’re serious about all of that.
This man has seen an incredible amount and photographed most of it.
His archives now reside at the University of Texas in Austin (how do they keep getting these incredible collections??), although he is continuing to digitize his collection by working with ScanCafe, and having them scanning his negs and transparencies.
He currently has an exhibit at the Frank Pictures Gallery in Santa Monica, and it’s a full house of history.
We usually steer away from descriptors for each image in a gallery setting but the thoughts included underneath the photos, help give a time and place to an era, no matter how recent it may be.

At the gallery, they have created a special edition book, including all of the work that is hanging, and we recommend it.

David Hume Kennerly
If Only O.J. Had Called Me…
A Forty Year Photographic Retrospective, 1966-2010

January 20 – April 3, 2010
The Frank Pictures Gallery
Bergamot Station Gallery A-5
2525 Michigan Avenue
Santa Monica California 90404
Tel. 310-828-0211

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