David Hume Kennerly

Pulitzer Prize Winner and Former Chief White House Photographer
  • 25 he became one of the youngest winners of the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism
  • Named “One of the 100 Most Important People in Photography.” by American Photo Magazine
  • Gives insight into his extensive photography background ranging from covering 13 presidential campaigns to current world events

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David Hume Kennerly has been a photographer on the front lines of history for more than 50 years.  At 25 he became one of the youngest winners of the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism. The 1972 award for Feature Photography recognized his work from the previous year, included images of the Vietnam and Cambodia wars, refugees escaping from East Pakistan into India, and the Ali v. Frazier “Fight of the Century” World Heavyweight Championship at Madison Square Garden.  Two years later Kennerly was appointed President Gerald R. Ford's Personal White House Photographer.

Kennerly’s photos have appeared on more than 50 major magazine covers, and he has documented history in more than a hundred countries.  He has photographed eleven U.S. Presidents, covered thirteen presidential campaigns, served as a contributing editor for Newsweek magazine for ten years, and was a contributing photographer for Time & Life Magazines. American Photo Magazine named Kennerly “One of the 100 Most Important People in Photography.”

In 2019, The University of Arizona Center for Creative Photography (CCP) acquired the David Hume Kennerly Archive. It features almost one million images, prints, objects, memorabilia, correspondence and documents dating back to 1957. His work joins that of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Richard Avedon, W. Eugene Smith, and scores of other legendary photographers.  In 2018, University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins appointed Kennerly the university’s first Presidential Scholar. 

Kennerly has published several books of his work, Shooter; Photo Op; Seinoff: The Final Days of Seinfeld; Photo du Jour; Extraordinary Circumstances: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford; and David Hume Kennerly On the iPhone. He was also a major contributor to CNN’s 2016 book, Unprecedented: The Election that Changed Everything. The cover image was from his exclusive portrait session with President Donald Trump.

He has an extensive film and TV production background. Kennerly was an executive producer of The Spymasters, a CBS/Showtime documentary about directors of the CIA. He also produced The Presidents’ Gatekeepers, a four-hour Discovery Channel film about White House chiefs of staff.  Kennerly was nominated for a Primetime Emmy as executive producer of NBC’s, The Taking of Flight 847. He was co-writer and executive producer of Shooter, a two-hour NBC pilot filmed in Thailand starring Helen Hunt. The movie was based on his Vietnam experiences. Shooter won the Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography.

Kennerly received the prestigious Lucie Award for Achievement in Photojournalism, and that same year delivered the commencement speech at Lake Erie College, where he received an honorary doctorate.

Kennerly is a Canon Legend, an elite group of photographers sponsored by Canon.

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Behind the Scenes of History. A magical mystery tour with Kennerly through some of the major events of the last 50-plus years as seen through his eyes and camera. From the night Robert Kennedy was shot, to the battlefields of Vietnam, Watergate, the resignation of Nixon and the swearing-in of President Ford. His talk takes you in the room a with President Ford as he ended the Vietnam War; Egyptian President Sadat’s historic trip to Israel; the horrors of Jonestown; inside Reagan and Gorbachev’s Fireside Summit in Geneva; in the governor’s mansion with George W. Bush as the 2000 election ended in a tie; riding with President and Mrs. Obama’s in an elevator on Inaugural night 2009, and with Trump the night he won the presidential election in 2016. Kennerly was there for all of that and more. He will take you along for the photographic ride of your life.

Presidential Imagery from George Washington to Joe Biden. When we think of George Washington the image that comes to mind is his face as depicted on the dollar bill.  But we don’t know what he really looked like because the pictures of him are all paintings.  John Quincy Adams, our 6th president, was the first to be photographed in 1843 after he left office. Abraham Lincoln was the first American politician to really understand the power of an image.  John F. Kennedy used his family and youthful good looks to photographic advantage and to win the election. LBJ had the first civilian photographer documenting his presidency, and so it went with all the presidents after. David Kennerly was the third civilian to be the personal photographer to the president, and he will illustrate the importance that image and photography have played in shaping our understanding of US Presidents, including his own experiences and pictures of eleven of them, from LBJ to Biden.

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