Behind the Image - Ben Bradlee

Blogs: #1 of 2

Previous Next View All
Behind the Image - Ben Bradlee

On November 2nd, 2011, a photo agency summoned me to a cover a book launch for Chris Matthews’ new book entitled Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero

The event took place at the Hay-Adams Luxury Hotel located off 16th Street Northwest in Washington D.C.

Traveling by Metrorail was rather uneventful. Only a block away from my stop, Hay-Adams was already bustling with activity as limousines and SUVs with black tinted windows made their way to valet parking area. Guests exited their vehicles.

Once I entered the hotel, a couple of observations stood out to me as a photographer - the dim lighting and the rich architectural history associated with the hotel. One could sense that notable socialites and politicians have made influential decisions between its walls.

As described on the Hay-Adams web site, “In 1927, Washington, DC, developer Harry Wardman bought and razed both homes, replacing them with the Hay-Adams House, an Italian Renaissance-style, 138-room apartment-hotel design by the architect Mirhan Mesrobian. Opened in 1928, the $900,000 structure featured impressive architectural embellishments such as Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders, walnut wainscoting, and intricate ceiling treatments featuring Elizabethan and Tudor motifs. Wood paneling from the Hay residence was repurposed in the public space now known as the Hay-Adams Room. Many historic details have been carefully preserved to this day.”

As I prepared my camera equipment for the evening, the libations where flowing and you could feel the energy in the room as attendees conversed. There were many politicians and career journalists in attendance as the room began to fill up.

Notable faces such as Politician John Kerry, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan and his wife Andrea Mitchell were in-attendance.

However, it was this image of Ben Bradlee that stood out to me. His portrait in the image certainly show a man that has presence. Little did I know that seven years later Steven Spielberg would direct a movie, The Post, about Bradlee’s life starring Tom Hanks.

As the Executive Editor of the Washington Post from 1968 to 1991, he had such a strong influence on freedom of speech and news stories that polarized America such as the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. I was sad to learn of his passing in 2014.