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Thursday
Jul172008

Hilary Clinton and Daniel Day Howard

It was the ‘handlers’ we were worried about. On assignment to photograph the winners of the 2003 Achievement Awards for Wellesley, the magazine’s art director, my assistant, and I were prepared. We had a concept for the photographs and a space reserved at the College Club, where we set up a makeshift photo studio. And we had three award winners – Barbara Loomis Jackson ’50, Niramol Bulakul Suriyasat ’54 (represented by her family), and Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69.
The first two shoots went off without a hitch that afternoon. Then we had a three-hour wait for the final winner. Would Senator Clinton’s handlers give us access?

Around 6 p.m., crisp-looking guys with wires coming out of their ears started to appear. One cane into our studio and asked what we were doing. He was satisfied with our answers but insisted that we close the drapes across the picture windows. A threat from the nearby woods at night? We asked what he had in the bright yellow bag he was carrying. “You don’t want to know,” he replied. We settled in for more anxious waiting.

Just before the Achievement Awards reception was scheduled to start, one of Clinton’s aides appeared. She was gracious and assured us that the senator would be available. The handler fears were put to rest. And at the promised hour, Clinton did arrive.

While we were waiting, we had been issued name tags. I inscribed mine, “Daniel Day Howard.” It was a longstanding joke. When I meet people and say, “I’m Richard Howard,” nine out of 10 respond, “Nice to meet you, Ron.” Opie Howard? I always say I would be happier if even 30 percent would replay, “Nice to meet you, Daniel Day.” So, for this evening, Daniel Day Howard it was. When Clinton came in, she looked at me and without missing a beat said, “Nice to meet you, Daniel Day. Thanks for taking time out from acting to do these photographs.” And she laughed. We were off and running.

She could not have been more professional or gracious. She made an effort to connect with every person in the room. She adjusted her pose. She recollected sliding down snow-covered Severance Hill on lunch trays. She laughed at my jokes. She was radiant and tuned in to everyone she encountered. Soon she headed off to the next event, but not before organizing and taking time for pictures with the support and wait staff working the reception.

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