When, several years ago, I was assisting a friend in getting his first Capitol Hill press pass, as we arrived to proceed into the building, I handed him one my disposable razors I keep in my car, and in said "you need to run this over your face." "Why?" he asked? "It's a simple matter of respect", I noted. To this day, he gives me a hard time with that phrase, and we're such good friends that he didn't take offense at my counsel. (and he did get his credential.)
Yesterday, when I turned up at the White House for my planned coverage of Barack Obama's visit, I was dressed in a suit. That's just me, I guess. Others were not similarly attired, but there were a half-dozen other still photographers wearing ties. I recall with great respect then Agence France Presse photographer David Ake, 15+ years ago, always came into the White House well dressed, and he recieved the respect due a properly attired photographer. Today, Ake is the head of the Associated Press' photo operation here in DC, and he remains well dressed.
Re-enter my good friend and colleague, David Burnett. David is a classy guy - top of his class in so many ways, and his class can surmount jeans, except when it's a random challenge by a press operation that has lost much of it's knowledge-base because of the few days left in it's existence. David recounts on his blog - Common Sense, Not Very Common, (11/11/08), writes:
So last Thursday, at what will no doubt be President Bush’s last cabinet meeting, Paul Richards of AFP and I were singled out of the crowd of a dozen still photographers, and refused entry to the photo opportunity in the Cabinet Room. Like Paul, I have been on the road for months doing the campaign. We were both surprised, unhappily, when we were informed that with just months to go in an 8 year tenure, the White House has decided to ban jeans from the Oval Office, and (apparently) the Cabinet Room if worn by photographers.While I concur that David shouldn't have worn jeans, he would have learned that 7+ years ago had the current administration instituted that rule - and enforced it - way back then. To enforce a rule they've previously not enforced, or been lax in enforcing, is just petty, and belies the mindset of the outgoing administrations attitude towards the press.
While you ponder this, check out previous blog posts on this subject:
Proper Attire Whilst Making Pictures, 6/1/08
Leave The Flip Flops For The Politicians, 5/23/07
So, as the saying goes, dress for who you want to be, not who you are. Wait, I want to be David Burnett...but can I do it without wearing jeans?
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