Oval Office
The White House, Washington, D.C., January 1983

One of the great things about working for Time is that your ideas get taken seriously by everyone, even people in the White House. Ray Cave, who was then the managing editor of Time, had one of the most fun ideas I'd ever heard, and because it was Time, the White House actually agreed to let us to the story: Every photo op of a meeting in the Oval Office has the President with his guest: Sadat, Gorbachev, the Queen of England, whoever, posing in the two chairs just in front of the fireplace. Almost all of the rooms' furnishing change with each administration. The rug has changed, the paintings have changed, even the uphosltery on the chairs is always matched to the taste of the current President and First Lady. Cave noticed one odd thing: No matter who is President, one thing in the Oval Office never changed: the Spanish Ivy plant over the fireplace. Ray thought it would be fun to do a piece on "the plant in the Oval Office." As he liked to say, "What if it could talk?" I was assigned to the story. I photographed the gardener who trimmed and watered the plant, but the most interesting thing I did was to set up a remote camera where the plant usually sits. The idea was to get the plant's-eye-view of a day in the Oval Office, including the meeting between Ronald Reagan and Hosni Mubarak seen here. At the end of the day, I photographed Reagan himself with "the plant," and we spoke for a few minutes. When we shook hands, he asked, "You're really shooting 'the plant?' Whose idea was this?" "It was Ray Cave's," I said. Reagan smiled and asked, "Is this what the editor of Time spends his time thinking about?"


The Best of Leifer
The Best of Leifer

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