I did some research and found out that the Vice President's photographer reported to the Vice President's Press Secretary who was Shirley Green. Shirley, like a lot of the Vice President's staff was from Texas and coincidentally so was I, so a door opened for me. Thanks, Shirley, for hiring me and changing my life.
I had an interview with Shirley Green the Press Secretary and then I had an interview with retried Admiral Dan Murphy who was the Chief of Staff. He was very hard on me, pushing my buttons, to see how I handled a very stressful situation. Having started photography in the U.S. Air Force at 18 years old, I certainly knew how to say Yes Sir! No Sir! and keep my composure. When I left the interview I just knew the Admiral hated me and I would't get hired. Well a few days later I get a call to meet with the Vice President of the United States, George H.W. Bush.
The Vice President was warm and gracious as he showed me around his office in the Old Executive Office Building. He was telling me we would be together in public and in private with his family. I was thinking, he thinks I have the job and at that point no one had actually offered me a position. I thought I had better ask him what the salary was. Well he didn't know but he said lets call Admiral Murphy. I could hear Admiral Murphy yelling through the thin walls of the Old Executive Office Building. "What! He's asking you about salary?" Thankfully I was hired anyway.
My first day on the job I was asked to fly to Miami where Vice President and Mrs. Bush were on Christmas vacation. Hector Irastorza, the White House advance person, picked me up and got me to Vice President Bush. The Vice President introduced me to Barbara Bush and I was off on a life changing experience. Later that first day I met Jeb Bush, one of the Vice President's sons. Jeb and his wife Columba had recently had a baby, Jeb Jr. Jeb had brought Jebby around to meet his grandfather. There were several VP staff in the room and they all left. I really wasn't sure if I should leave or not so I decided to stay.
I took some photos of the Vice President holding his new grandson. A few weeks later I received a thank you note from Barbara Bush telling me, "As long as you take good photos of my grandchildren, you can go anywhere and do what ever you need." That was my ticket to access and the adventure began for me.
It was great working for the Vice President actually more fun than working for the President, because there were fewer people around which made my work easier. I was fortunate to also be working in the Reagan White House and had an opportunity to see and photograph President Reagan on occasion when he and the Vice President were together. President Reagan used to come by the White House Photo Office looking for his King Charles Spaniel, Rex. Rex used to sneak out and the White House Staff would keep dog biscuits in their offices and Rex knew all the stops.
My Vice Presidential Photo Office was in the Old Executive Office Building as they called it back then. The Presidential Photographers headed up by Michael Evans had office space in the White House. Little did I know back in 1983 I would be the Presidents Photographer and for the first time also the Director of the White House Photo Office. Prior to my becoming the President's Photographer and Director of the White House Photo Office, they had always been two separate positions.
In the eighties when I was working at the White House all the photographers used Kodak color negative film. When I worked for the Vice President I used Nikon FM2 cameras and a Visitor 283 flash.We would all photograph an assignment, remove the film from our Nikon cameras then each roll of film would be put into a film envelope with a caption on the outside. The film was picked up hourly by the White House Communications Agency who processed the film. We would receive a color proof sheet back. Janet Philips who worked in the Photo Office for decades would input the caption into a data based that is used today in the Presidential Libraries. Thanks Janet for all your great work.
I would work from 3 schedules, a monthly schedule which was loose but you could see what domestic or foreign trips would take place that month or if a big event was going to happen. I would also get a weekly schedule which was tighter and you could better see how the week was scheduled. Then every day I received a minute by minute Daily Presidential Schedule. I would photograph every event on the schedule. I also photographed personal, behind the scenes happenings as they took place. It was fun for me to also be fortunate enough to meet and photograph the Vice President's family.
All of the film I took is now housed in the Bush Presidential Library in College Station,Texas.
In November 1988 President Elect George H.W. Bush invited me to stay on and be his Presidential Photographer.
Below are a few examples of thousands of photo I took during the Vice Presidency of George H.W. Bush. To see more photos visit: The research section of the George Bush Presidential Library website.