Unseen Images Of Hillary Clinton
The first couple in a meeting about healthcare reform – or ‘Hillarycare’ – in the Roosevelt Room, c1993 © Robert McNeely
White House photographer Robert McNeely spent six years with the Clintons in the 1990s. He now reveals the stories behind his pictures and what they say about the kind of leader Hillary Clinton will be over the next many years.
Hillary Clinton is an intensely private person — she gives away so little,” says Robert McNeely, who spent six years with the Clintons as the official White House photographer. “If she weren’t in politics, she could be a world-class poker player.” As Clinton admitted in her Philadelphia acceptance speech last week, she far prefers the “service” part of public service to the public dimension, which she sees as a necessary evil. In that regard — and many others — it is hard to think of two characters less alike than Bill and Hillary Clinton.
“Bill craves attention,” says McNeely, whose photographic book of Clinton’s years as first lady comes out in January. “Hillary really doesn’t care if people like her or not.”
Among those who know her well, only a handful spent as many hours in close proximity to the Clintons as McNeely. And while he was there, she barely noticed his presence. His job was to be unobtrusive. For six years, he was director of White House photography. He took black-and-white photos that he developed in a dark room in the White House basement, since closed following the move to digitalisation.
McNeely followed the first couple almost everywhere — not even the family’s private apartment was off-limits. He was one of a small handful to receive advance copies of the presidential schedule. There was almost no meeting from which he was debarred. The result is more than half a million photographs, taken between 1992 and 1998.
Having her hair and makeup done for a photo shoot for Elle magazine, May 1993 © Robert McNeely