The Lighting Before the Storm

A worker installs lights in the Capitol's Statuary Hall in preparation for Tuesday's State of the Union address. Media will be set up in Statuary Hall to interview members before and after the speech. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Traffic in the Capitol's Statuary Hall was altered Tuesday as lighting technicians installed a canopy to make sure media outlets had sufficient light throughout their stand-up interviews after Tuesday's State of the Union address.  

The historic hall fills with members of Congress and the media after the president's speech every year, all eager to provide their take on the speech. As techs installed lights in the middle of the hall, many people traversing the Capitol altered their routes. Instead of going straight through the hall, walkers went around the canopy, as if not to tempt fate by walking under a ladder.  

Harry Reid's Press Conference in 360 Degrees
Behind the Photo: Catching Ryan's Family in Media Mayhem

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., announced in a news conference on Oct. 20 that not sacrificing family time was part of requirement to seek the candidacy for the position. When it was clear he was going to be the 54th speaker, I knew I wanted a shot of him and his family when they were on the Hill for the ceremony.  

During the event on the House floor his wife and three children were recognized at their seats in the gallery.  

Behind the Photo: I-Day

By Al Drago

On July 1 I woke up before the sun and headed to Annapolis for one of my favorite assignments to shoot: The Naval Academy Induction Day. Also known as "I-Day," parents drop off their kids and say their goodbyes for the next six weeks. During these weeks the new students, known as "plebes," will learn all the ins and outs of the Navy, the Academy, and what is expected of them for the next four years.  

How to Get a Front-Page Photo (Video)

Sometimes capturing just the right moment requires you to move fast. Roll Call Photographer Tom Williams had only a few seconds to capture the hesitant Faye, a potbelly pig, avoiding a selfie attempt by Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.  

Watch the video below, courtesy of Washington Post National Reporter Colby Itkowitz , via Twitter .  

Capitol Lens: V-E Day

WWII veteran Les Jones of San Clemente, Calif., and Army Spec. Tyler Amaker attend the flyover Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Photo Editor Bill Clark and Staff Photographer Tom Williams attended the Arsenal of Democracy flyover Friday and captured some stunning moments.  

Many veterans from WWII were on the Mall to watch the commemorative event. According to the organizing group, the flyover included dozens of World War II aircraft flying in 15 historical warbird formations representing the major battles, from Pearl Harbor through the final air assault on Japan.  

Sen. Robert Griffin, 1923-2015

Griffin with Hamilton, 1968 Michigan National Cherry Queen. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Sen. Robert Griffin died on April 17, much of the news coverage that followed focused on his filibuster against the nomination of Abe Fortas to be chief justice of the United States and his political alliance with Gerald Ford, a fellow Michigan Republican who rose through the House ranks to become minority leader, vice president and eventually president after Richard M. Nixon resigned.  

Lost in the ether, perhaps, was the Griffin who was an indefatigable partisan for his home of Traverse City, Mich., particularly its signature event, the National Cherry Festival. This certainly comes through in a CQ Roll Call photo from the archives. Griffin, who was elected to five terms in the House from 1956 to 1964 before being appointed to the Senate in 1966, was a good sport as he allowed Julie Ann Hamilton, the 1968 festival's National Cherry Queen, to feed him the fruit by hand.  

Why You Want News Photographers to Roam Free at Political Events


When covering news events where there is a lot of media interest, photographers are at the mercy of organizers giving them access to roam around and get good art. Two of my recent assignments — one in Boston and one in Virginia — demonstrated how some event officials have very different views on how to handle photographers.  

I was the only news photographer in attendance at the March 29 dinner before the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston. There were maybe four event photographers and a handful of reporters. I was relegated to a roped-off area where VIPs were having their photos taken in front of a “step and repeat” (a backdrop with the event’s branding).  

'When It Comes to Luck, You Make Your Own'

I am not a morning person. It's 5 a.m., my alarm is blaring at some random interstate-exit hotel near Montgomery, Ala., and all I want to do is go back to sleep. But I really want to get some beauty shots of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the town of Selma bathed in sunrise light for our coverage of the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday."  

The sun starts to peek over the treetops as I begin to walk across the bridge, shooting photos of mist on the Alabama River, reflections of the town on the water and, of course, the name of the bridge painted on the span itself. I notice a few camera crews hanging around and I write it off as the start of the media swarming this otherwise quiet Southern landmark for the anniversary. Then more media arrive, and it becomes apparent I have stumbled into an event I need to shoot. A press secretary arrives and informs us “he” will be arriving soon to walk across the bridge.  

The Two-Second Shot

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., fools around with colleagues upon arriving for a news conference on Jan. 13. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Many times on the Hill, a photographer has to guess which direction someone will go, how many photographers will be there already, what the light situation will be and numerous other scenarios.  

And then you guess wrong anyway. This event wasn’t on my schedule, but I was nearby so I decided to give it a few minutes and see if I ran into anything that made a picture.