The White House photographer is responsible for many of the official images you will see of the president, so this is a big choice.
President Donald Trump has selected the second woman to ever hold the official Chief White House Photographer title, choosing photojournalist Shealah Craighead for the position. On Thursday, January 27, Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, confirmed the selection.
Craighead has worked similar positions before as the photographer for former First Lady Laura Bush. The Washington D.C.-based photographer also photographed Governor Sarah Palin’s vice presidential campaign and also worked as a photo editor for former Vice President Dick Cheney. Along with those titles, her work, primarily focused in the political arena, has also been featured in Newsweek as well as People Magazine.
While the photographer has worked on the White House photography staff before, the appointment is only the second time a woman has held the chief photographer position. According to PetaPixel, Sharon Farmer was the first, working during the Clinton administration.
Craighead’s background had many speculating she would be given the official title days before the official announcement. So just how did she land the role?
Digital Rev released an informational video on its YouTube channel going over the history of the post, who has held it in the past, and how those individuals were picked.
The post of official White House photographer is a completely optional one. In other words, it is not a post that President Trump had to fill unless he wanted to. That said, going back to President Kennedy, the only president to not have an official photographer was Jimmy Carter. Every other president filled the role — though the relationship between the photographer and their president has been different for each.
The video also notes that the role of the White House photographer, just as you may have expected, essentially involves shadowing the president everywhere, to capture opportune moments to help the administration tell its narrative. This means long hours standing in hallways, following the president from meeting to meeting, snapping a few photos, and then waiting for the next photo op.
Updated on Jan. 28 by Hillary Grigonis to reflect the official Chief White House Photographer announcement.