Former White House Chief Photographer and Pulitzer Prize winner David Hume Kennerly spoke to a packed Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum auditorium on March 25, 2019 as part of the grand opening of an exhibit dedicated to some of his best photographs taken while serving in the White House.
The exhibit “Extraordinary Circumstances: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford” was officially opened earlier that day with Kennerly’s family, Susan Ford Bales, and others at a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Museum. The exhibit was supported by the Frey Foundation and Bank of America.
Included with the exhibit are 88 framed images that, in Kennerly’s words, “reveal the character of the 38th President”. It also features four display cases of Kennerly’s personal effects and artifacts of his time serving as President Ford’s personal photographer.
David Hume Kennerly has been a photographer on the front lines of history for fifty years. At 25 he was one of the youngest winners of the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism. His photos have appeared on more than 50 major magazine covers, including TIME, LIFE, and Newsweek. Kennerly has covered stories in dozens of countries. For ten years he served as a contributing editor for Newsweek magazine and for POLITICO.
He has worked as a contributing photographer for TIME & LIFE Magazines, John F. Kennedy, Jr’s George magazine. American Photo Magazine named him “One of the 100 Most Important People in Photography,” and Washingtonian Magazine called Kennerly one of the 50 most important journalists in Washington, DC. Kennerly also has an extensive film and TV background. Recent projects include working as Executive Producer for The Spymasters a 2015 CBS/Showtime documentary about the directors of the CIA. He produced The Presidents’ Gatekeepers, a four-hour Discovery Channel documentary about White House chiefs of staff.
Susan Ford Bales joined Kennerly for the discussion on his exhibit. Her own passion for photography started while living in the White House as a teenager. Kennerly loaned Ford Bales a camera and encouraged her to capture the images of her White House years, which sparked her lifetime connection to photo journalism.
Kennerly started his remarks thanking the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum for their support and efforts to bring the exhibit to life including photo background research, image selections, and exhibit design. He also connected the title of the exhibit, to the title of this book by the same name, which also is directly form President Ford’s remarks following his swearing-in as President of the United States.
ogether with Ford Bales, Kennerly highlighted the stories behind numerous historic photos from: Richard Nixon’s departure from the White House aboard Marine One; President Ford’s first day in an empty Oval Office; the Senior Officials meeting where the decision to pull out of Vietnam was determined; Republican Primary of the Presidential Campaign of 1976; and the famous photo of First Lady Betty Ford as she strikes a dance pose on the Cabinet Room table the day before departing the White House upon the inauguration of Jimmy Carter.