20 months, photojournalist Barbara Kinney followed
Hillary Clinton on the 2016 campaign trail, capturing
the first-ever female major-party presidential nominee
as she walked rope lines and across stages.
the one who captured the infinitely meme-able shot of
Clinton and former President Barack Obama laughing
backstage at the Democratic National Convention.
resulting book, “#StillWithHer: Hillary Rodham Clinton
and the Moments That Sparked a Movement,” is an
exhaustive tome, and a fascinating visual document of
the grueling, day-to-day world of a presidential
also deeply personal.
who worked at one time as a photo editor at The Seattle
Times, documents her own story in the book as well, from
getting the plum job with Clinton to the pain of being
separated from her daughter.
also cameos from Michelle Kwan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Mary
Steenburgen and former Planned Parenthood president
what Kinney had to say about being a photographer in the
Clinton White House, the chain of good luck and
persistence that got her into Clinton’s motorcade, and
the impossible task of distilling an entire campaign
into 272 pages.
did you decide what photos to include?
A: I had
six hard drives and [my publisher] went through all
those over a number of months and came up with about
1,000 pictures that he liked and then … Luckily, we
were kind of on the same page and he picked most of the
ones that I had edited throughout the campaign — I
would always pick out my favorites and put them aside.
432,000 pictures during [the campaign]. … Besides the
really cool behind-the-scenes stuff there are thousands
of receiving lines, because after each event we would
have receiving lines — [for] people who organized the
event, superfans, just everybody, and then of course all
the fundraisers, so you know you gotta weed through all
those. We had to go through and make some really hard
choices about which ones to keep. You know, when you
take certain pictures you know the event, you know what
was going on, you know maybe how hard it was to come up
with an image.
happy that [my publisher] went through a lot of those
because I don’t know if I could have.
it seems like a lot.
A: It is.
And too emotional, too.
more about that.
back through the pictures is like reliving the campaign.
… As I go back through the events and forget how tired
I might have been during those days, you know, you see
the really exciting rallies and some of the people that
we met and [Clinton’s] energy and it brought back good
memories, but along the same lines it’s like, Oh my
God, what could have been. And it’s so sad, because
you look at those photos — especially during times
when we were really riding high and hopeful and felt
really positive about things. … You think about what
could have been, and of course, as we know, what is now,
and so it’s really hard.
Q: So you
mentioned that you were with her on the 2008 campaign as
well as the 2016 campaign. Can you tell me about the
evolution of your career and how you ended up
photographing for her? That’s a big role. How did that
know, it kind of was the right-place, right-time sort of
thing. I was in Washington, D.C., after I graduated from
college with a photojournalism degree. … I worked at
USA Today for six years as a photo editor and
photographer and then quit to freelance. So five years
into freelancing, I get this call right before
inauguration week in ’93 from a friend of mine who had
worked on the Clinton campaign and worked on the
transition team, and they were calling from the
first-lady-to-be’s office, saying, you know, “The
campaign photographer’s gonna be with Bill Clinton all
week, we need somebody to be with Hillary Clinton. Are
like, “Yeah … clear my schedule,” and it was a
series of odd events in that they scheduled me and then
the next day said, “Sorry, this is off because the
campaign photographer hired somebody else to do this job
so we don’t need you,” and it’s kind of a funny
story because I was like, “You’re kidding me, I just
canceled my whole week,” which was two parties for
inauguration, it wasn’t that much, and I said, “This
sucks, I even called my mom and told her I was gonna do
Caputo, who was the press secretary for Hillary, said,
“You’re right, you know, you’re right, this does
suck,” and I heard her yelling in the background. She
says, “I’ll call you back.” So she calls back …
[and] said, “Not today but tomorrow, you’re on for
the rest of the week.” I’m like, “Well what about
the other person?” She’s like, “Don’t matter,
basically that week I was with Hillary all week for her
separate events that she had. … I went from having two
parties scheduled that week to literally riding the
motorcade down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Q: So you
followed Hillary Clinton since the ’90s. To follow
someone for that length of time, what is that like? What
is your relationship with your subject like? How is it
know, obviously we know each other pretty well and
she’s always been pretty good with staff and she knows
all about anything to do with my family, you know,
personal life and especially … during the 2016
campaign, I went through a divorce and it was very, very
heartbreaking and emotional just because I was away from
my daughter during the campaign … and Hillary
literally embraced me, and was like, “We love you,
we’ll do anything we can for you, just let me know.”
photographer you kind of have to stand back and not be
too involved in the scene. You miss the pictures, you
know. Whenever I would engage a little too much in being
in the green room or backstage, I would miss a picture,
so you have to be careful about that. But I’m very
comfortable at being close up and walking into a room
when she’s there and not worrying that, you know,
I’m not supposed to be there, but I’m also pretty
good at reading the room, too. … If it’s a tense
situation you have to determine is the picture worth
going in and disrupting or making somebody upset that
you’re in there? And often times it is.
remember when I was following the 2016 campaign, that
was what I heard all the time — that Hillary Clinton
had an amazing selfie game.
first time somebody would hand her their phone and
she’d be like, “I don’t know what to do,” and
she’d hand it to Connolly [Keigher] or Huma [Abedin]
or Nick [Merrill], somebody, one of our staff who was
around the rope line. So then she sort of got the hang
of it and you’d see this big smile on her face that
she’d grab somebody’s phone and she’d go, “Here,
let me do it,” and she’d shoot a selfie. She was
like a little kid who finally learned something. … It
was quicker if she did it rather than having somebody
whose hands are shaking because they’re meeting
Hillary and screwed up the photo … and you’d have to
come back and do it again. So it was easier for her to
do it. So she’d do it a lot. It was a machine.
Something that you always hear about Hillary Clinton is
that she is a very warm and almost a different person
when you see her in person. I think that in a lot of the
stories that you recount, that comes through. She does
seem like a very warm person, but then of course when
she’s covered in the press, she’s often treated as
this very calculating, almost nonhuman presence, and I
just … wonder what you think about that sort of
tension — the Hillary you know vs. the Hillary you see
in the media.
don’t understand it, but I do. I mean, I think Al Gore
suffers from the same thing. … He’s very serious and
organized … but behind the scenes he’s just a
crackup, you know. And Hillary, I think she will be the
first to say that she’s a wonk. When she gives her
remarks, she really wants to talk about these topics and
go through them in a very sort of organized and
calculated way, because she has these things that she
wants to cover and they’re important to her. … But
then when she … is off the remarks, I mean especially
if you’ve ever seen her on talk shows, she’s very
funny. I mean she’s definitely a much more controlled
and serious person than, say, President Clinton. … Now
is that because she’s a wonk or is that because
she’s a woman and has to? I think there’s a little
of both … in there. I think that, you know, she
can’t be a Bernie Sanders who screams when he gives
his campaign rallies, because she would be looked at as
a woman who’s screeching, right?
funny that you describe her as businesslike, too,
because I think that’s generally a quality you would
want in a political leader and that makes me wonder if
it’s more of a gendered thing.
at the women who are out there now. … There’s nobody
who’s really crazy out there. Even when Elizabeth
Warren gets a little crazy, people jump all over her.
interesting to see how women in politics have to present
themselves in such a careful way.
wonder if that’ll change as more and more women like
in this election got elected — you know, [Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez], who’s causing a stir — she’s being
outspoken already and people don’t know what to do
with it. Maybe it’s a new era where women can actually
be a little more outspoken. We’ll see.