Photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt / LIFE
Sunflowers, 1968
Vineyard Times With Eisie by William Marks

The day and time Eisie was to photograph the First Family was kept in strict confidence at the request of Clinton’s contact people. When the morning of the day arrived, everything was ready. Eisie had double checked all his equipment and loaded fresh film. The phone rang and we were informed that the shoot was scheduled for about 11 AM. I was loading Eisie's camera equipment in the car as Lulu and Eisie made their way from the cottage. Just as Eisie passed the phone, it rang. Answering the phone, he talked briefly with someone and said, “I can’t talk right now, I have to go and photograph the President.” “Who was that?” asked Lulu. “A reporter from the Associated Press who was asking to do a feature story on me.” said Eisie.  

We arrived at the gallery and were greeted by Bruce, Brandy and the gallery’s manager, Chris Morris. The Secret Service was already there. As the hour ticked by, more and more news photographers began showing up. When questioned by the Secret Service as to why they were there, the photographers said they just happened to be in the area. It didn’t take the Secret Service long to figure out that there had been a leak. To Eisie’s dismay, the photo session was canceled. It was only later that we learned that Eisie’s off hand telephone remark about going out to photograph the President had circulated quickly amongst the press. On a small island, gossip and news tend to spread at the speed of light.  

A few days passed and it was the next to last day the Clinton’s were to be on island. The telephone call came, Eisie was to photograph the Clinton’s at the gallery after they attended morning church service. Again, we waited at the gallery’s courtyard. This time the First Family showed up. After greeting Eisie, the gallery owners, Lulu and myself, the First Family walked around shaking hands with well wishers while taking time to view Eisie’s pictures and ask him questions. Eisie loved entertaining the Clinton’s with his stories. When Eisie asked Chelsea which photograph she liked best, Chelsea chose one depicting young ballerinas. To Chelsea’s pleasant surprise, Eisie promptly gave it to her as a gift.  

I found the Clinton’s to be easy people to talk with and enjoyed sharing thoughts with them on Eisie’s work and the island’s environment. After things settled down, the courtyard was cleared of everyone but the Clinton’s, Eisie and myself.  

Eisie took his time and sat down in a chair facing another chair he had me place in a prearranged location. Eisie asked the President to sit in the empty chair. Raising his camera and looking through the lens, I heard Eisie mutter to himself, “dam it.” Lowering his camera to his lap, Eisie asked me to remove all the framed photographs hanging on the wall behind the President. “They are distracting,” said Eisie. After the pictures were removed, Eisie began to do what he is famous for--placing people at ease while photographing them. At first, Eisie her took pictures of the First Family in various positions: Bill with Hillary; Hillary, Chelsea and Bill; and finally, the President by himself. Occasionally, Eisie and the Clinton’s would laugh as Eisie made comments about how beautiful they looked together. During the entire shoot, I did only one lens change after Eisie gave me his raised finger signal. Amazing as it sounds, Eisie shot only one roll of 36-exposure black and white film.  

Continued on next page.
To order a copy of this photo, contact
the LIFE Gallery of Photography.
The Vineyard 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 
9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 
View the Index Page 
See - The Icons - The Portraits - Photos of Eisie
Contents Editorial The Platypus Links Copyright
Past Features Camera Corner War Stories  Dirck's Gallery Comments
Issue Archives Columns Forums Mailing List E-Mail
 This site is sponsored and powered by Hewlett Packard