David Hume Kennerly has been photographing American presidents since Nixon ran for office in 1968. He also shot the photos for Barack Obama’s official inauguration book in 2009. Today he has a documentary about White House Chiefs of Staff airing on the Discovery Channel.
David Hume Kennerly made in impact on Americans through his photos at an early age – he won a Pulitzer Prize when he was just twenty-five years old. Shortly thereafter Kennerly says he landed a job as the official photographer for President Gerald Ford.
“President Ford liked my spirit I think as well as my photos. I just hit it off with him. He liked my style and he liked the fact that I didn’t take myself that seriously and so it was a perfect match. I traveled all over the world with him. I was at every meeting that he had and it was a quite exciting experience and I was only twenty-seven years old when I got the job,” says Kennerly.
In addition to documenting the lives of American Presidents through his photographs, Kennerly has also documented wars in Vietnam, India & Cambodia, and Pakistan. He has had his photos published in national magazines like Time, Life, and Newsweek.
Kennerly says he also photographed the final days of Seinfeld.
“The Seinfeld people allowed me full access to the final days of shooting so I was right there on the stage and in the trailers with them and I really hung out with them for sixteen hours a day for that last ten days that they shot,” says Kennerly.
Kennerly says his specialty is the versatility of his subject matter.
“My specialty really is being like a utility out-fielder in the photo world. I can shoot anything anywhere; sports, portraits, I’m doing a lot of commercial work for big companies. I really just take them as they come along - I suppose politics has been my strong suit but I can do anything,” says Kennerly.
Kennerly is a recognized Canon Explorer of Light photographer. He has won several awards for photography in addition to being named “One of the 100 Most Important People in Photography” by American Photo Magazine.
Kennerly is speaking at Black Hills State University on Wednesday.