The Digital Journalist

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

I first photographed Jackie in 1963 at the Washington, D.C., airport, when the Shah of Iran and Princess Farah Diba arrived in America. The press was carefully placed in an area very close to where Jackie would be standing, definitely setting up the opportunity for a 'photo op.'

Generally, seasoned press photographers arrive an hour before a public event to claim the best photo spot, even though the event itself might be scheduled to last a mere four or five minutes. I was definitely not a regular at these Washington gatherings, and when I arrived, the press line was already completely filled. In these situations, photographers tended to get very aggressive and competitive. There was already a lot of adrenaline, pushing and shoving going on. Getting the best picture meant a great deal to photographers, particularly when their publications were in fierce competition.

The line of cameramen being full, I waited for the right moment and then took advantage of my short height to quickly crawl under everyone's legs. I heard abusive bantering above my head. I was getting banged and kicked, but there I was at the front. The Washington press corps was not at all happy with me, but I did get an engaging photograph from a very low angle.

During the ceremony, Jackie seemed entirely immersed in her own thoughts, never looking at the cameras or showing any awareness of the steady flashing of strobe lights in front of her. The camera loved what it saw, but was she really as oblivious to all of us as she seemed? For me, that was a big part of her genius.