Perspectives

American Politics Through a Camera Lens: Viewpoint of Former NYT Photographer


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For 25 years, Stephen Crowley was one of two “New York Times” (NYT) photographers stationed in Washington to cover the White House, the President, and Congress. Being a politically-minded guy since childhood, Crowley says that covering politics was never boring and in fact, it often was exciting.
He says that covering politics is a lot like shooting athletic events…there are always surprises, successes and failures. There are stars and also-rans. Each personality is different and it reflects in the pictures of them, he notes.
For example, he says Obama often attempted to appear thoughtful and Lincoln-like when cameras were around while photographing President Donald Trump is like capturing a television variety show host. He also notes that Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer can hear a camera go off from 20 yards away and quickly makes his reading glasses disappear before the second frame is shot.
He says that part of his job as a photographer is to be able to “quickly organize chaos” into some type of coherent image that tells a story truthfully and accurately.
Crowley, throughout his career, has traveled the world on assignments and has taken photographs in some 40 different countries. He has captured images of war, poverty, and devastation. His credo, however, in such horrendous situations, is “don’t victimize the victim.” He is careful to preserve the humanity and dignity of the person being photographed regardless of the situation.
In 2002, Crowley was named the Photographer of the Year by the White House News Photographers Association. He also was part of Pulitzer Prize winning teams at the NYT in 2001 and 2002 for “How Race is Lived in America” and his work during the war in Afghanistan.
Before arriving at the NYT, Crowley worked at “The Palm Beach Post,” the “Miami Herald” and the “Washington Times.”
He has had private showings of his work at the Library of Congress, the National Geographic Society and the Corcoran Art Museum in Washington, D.C.
The American Photo Magazine included Crowley in its list of the 100 Most Important People in Photography in 2005.