by Anna Waldron and Oliver Ward
David Valdez shot many now iconic photos of George H.W. Bush and his family, during his four years as presidential photographer.
His work appeared in such publications as Time, Newsweek, LIFE, and Forbes. He shot over 65,000 rolls of film during his time with the Bush’s, though he shoots all digital now, often preferring his iPhone.
Valdez, one of only nine presidential photographers, spoke to participants in the Presidency and the Press program on August 9th.
After college, Valdez found his way to the White House, where he quickly became the personal photographer for President George Herbert Walker Bush.
Valdez took photos of everything in the president’s life from family vacations to meeting with prime ministers across the world. He became very close with the president. “The president loved his boat,” he said, showcasing a photo he had taken of Bush piloting a speed boat.
Valdez also shared a few stories of his time as presidential photographer, the most entertaining of which was about Soviet Statesman Mikhail Gorbachev. On one of Gorbachev’s visits to the U.S., Valdez introduced him to the game of horseshoes, of which Bush was a big fan. On Gorbachev’s first throw, he got a ringer, and was so enthused that he decided to steal the winning horseshoe as a souvenir. As it turns out, Bush found the story entertaining and had the shoe mounted for Gorbachev to take home.
Valdez made the transition from film to digital photography while he was still working at the White House. After his job as a presidential photographer, Valdez created a photographic biography of the president, George Herbert Walker Bush: A Photographic Profile. He has also now gone on to teaching classes in iPhone photography, sharing the photographic capabilities of the iPhone.
After leaving the Bushes, Valdez went on to spend eight years as general manager of photography for Walt Disney Attractions. “My father always told me, ‘when are you going to get a real job?’” recalled Valdez, laughing. Valdez has recently returned to political photography, working with George P. Bush, primarily focusing on Bush’s social media presence.
Valdez’s presentation was part of the Presidency and the Press conference at Franklin Pierce University. The day’s events were filmed by C-Span and made possible by the NH charitable foundation. David Valdez can be found on both Twitter and Instagram at @davidvaldezusa, as well as at his new website davidvaldezphotography.com.
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