"NOT SHOT" Story 1 - President Clinton in 1998

A photojournalism professor at Boston University told us that in our careers we will shoot a lot of great photos, but the one we'll never forget is the one we missed. The shot that would have been perfect, had we gotten it.

So, I'm starting a series of blog posts about would-be shots. "NOT SHOT" is a photo that could've been, but isn't, but that I will never forget about.

The first shot I remember missing was a big one.

President Clinton vacationed on Martha's Vineyard every year, he probably still does. In the summer of 1998 I had an internship at the Vineyard Gazette doing design work for their tourist guide and shooting whatever assignments they would give me for the weekly newspaper and the monthly magazine. I spent HOURS in the darkroom, sometimes overnight, shooting as much as I could, and celebrating my last summer before graduation.

I had 2 assignments regarding Clinton's vacation on the island. The first was to cover his arrival at the airport. I stood amidst the press pool, roped off almost a mile away from Airforce One realizing that I had amateur gear among seasoned professionals. But, I still got a decent shot of the gratuitous baby-holding and hand-shaking. The other assignment was to cover the press that invaded the island, who had set up in the parking lot of the elementary school in Edgartown, and were there covering the president's vacation. That assignment I shot on color slide film and it ran in the Martha's Vineyard Magazine. My first magazine shoot ever.

So, the shot I didn't get wasn't an assignment. It wasn't anything that needed to be taken or was expected to be taken, but I think it would've been famous.

The shot was a vertical frame of the Clinton family sitting at the window table of a fancy restaurant, Bill looking down, Chelsea with her arms crossed, and Hillary looking away. The light was nice, the body language was interesting, and given that at some point that week the video-taped confession of the president's innappropriate behavior with Monica Lewinsky would be released, it seemed pretty historic and important.

The shot was in my framed in my viewfinder because I WASN'T on assignment that day, which means I wasn't cordoned off with the rest of the press on the sidewalk across the street from the restaurant, I was just walking around, trying to think of where I could get a good shot without having any credentials or other access, and I knew about a path that led beside the building. I didn't realize they would be sitting right at that side window. I was shocked, and then psyched, and then as I focused my manual lens and tried to keep the camera steady for the slightly long exposure it would require, someone blocked my lens, pushed down my camera, and told me I couldn't be there. Secret Service.

I didn't get the shot.

I didn't get the shot.