tv QA Doug Mills CSPAN August 18, 2019 11:00pm-12:02am EDT
what it is like to cover president trump. then a conversation with some of c-span's 2019 teacher fellows. ♪ brian: doug mills, your last visit in 2013, you were photographing a lot of barack obama. what has changed in your life since then? doug: we have a president who was not a politician in the white house. the american people elected a businessman who is now the president of the united states and things are drastically different for us.
it is a lot of work. we work nonstop. the president drives a new cycle hourly. therefore, it affects us everyday. the white house is quite an exciting place to work right now. host: how is it different? doug: from a photographer standpoint, we have a lot more access to the president. i see him more on a daily basis than we did with president obama. sometimes three or four times per day. sometimes five times a day. we are able to photograph him in different situations. some meetings, will science, executive orders, things like that. there is a lot of travel involved. not a lot of weekend travel other than to mar-a-lago or bedminster, new jersey.
it is exhausting. it is great. it is very exciting. i love what i am doing. i have the greatest job in the world. being in the white house right now, every time i see someone that i haven't seen in a while, that is the first question they asked. how has your life changed and what is different about it? it is very different. we are going nonstop. there are so many different pictures. i think photographing barack obama for eight years -- he was probably the most photogenic president in my generation. easily. in many generations. i look at the past year of photographing donald trump, and he is probably one of the most iconic. you look at a picture of him from the front, side, back, you
know who it is immediately. and it is challenging. but it is fun. i love photographing. host: here is a photo you took of donald trump sitting at his desk. when did you do that? doug: that was shortly after he took office. that was, probably, i believe in february or march. there was a period where he was signing a lot of executive orders. and, again, us having more access to the president, we are in the oval office more. therefore you are able to be creative. i was able to put a camera up high in the air. look down on his desk. i was waiting for them to bring the executive order over to him. i ended up just liking that picture better than the one with him with the actual papers in front of him. host: when you are on the scene, can you see, you know, that sweep of light on the desk, can you notice that? doug: i did. yes, i did. because i never noticed, because other presidents have kept more things on the desk at times. and sometimes it's blocked, i think this was an afternoon
signing. the sun was coming in behind him, it cast that vignette. i remember looking at it when i pulled it up on the computer, it looked more dramatic than when i saw it in person. host: you took the overhead shot, which we also have. it has become your trademark, when did you start doing this and how do you do it? doug: i basically take a monopod, a single leg of a tripod, a monopod, but it has a connector on the top. then i put a ball head on top of that, which allows me to pivot the camera up and down to the side. i lift it up as high as it will go, probably 15 feet at the most. i can't see it. i eyeball it. i'm not using autofocus.
i'm pre-focusing. once it is up there, i watch -- i'm watching him as he is just gesturing. i think it is such a great, unique, view of the oval office or capitol hill. i think it really brings the reader in to see who is in the room and what is being orchestrated. especially with everyone around him like that and having the right lens on. i love doing them. host: in our archive we have one from 1996, one from 2008, one from 2013, for those that have never seen any of these, bring us up to date how long you have been a still photographer. doug: i have been washington, d.c. a long time. i have covered the white house since ronald reagan, when he was
running for reelection. i have been there since 83. i believe i have covered 18 different years. 18 years under the republican presidents, 16 years under the democrats. host: how many years with the times now? doug: i was with the associate press first. i was the chief photographer in washington. host: the last time you were here we talked about pete sousa, who has had a bestseller on "the new york times" list, i think he was number one for a couple of weeks. why do you think that book of photos has sold so well? doug: he is a brilliant photographer. he has a fantastic eye, he had probably the most access that any white house photographer had ever. you talk to other photographers who have been in that same job. i think pete had the most access. he clearly did a fantastic job
of branding himself and branding his work. being, you know, staying with the president all the time. he rarely took a day off. his colleagues did not have the same kind of access that he did. and therefore, he has been able to tap into a market -- obviously the book is selling like crazy. with all due respect, that work came at the expense of some of the access the press was not getting. host: that is what i wanted to ask you. we talked about the fact that you were kept out around some of the obama years, you went to bat for that. in the end, what did happen? doug: it changed. i mean, you know, you go through different press secretaries and different communication directors. i think josh earnest did a great job of getting us back into the fold and think more about pictures. there was a great team committed to it. once there was a lot of controversy about the fact that we felt like we were being shut
out. there were facts. we had plenty of examples that we were not allowed in, the white house was putting up their own instagram or twitter pictures, or putting it up on whitehouse.gov. excluding the press, basically going around. significant events, you know? we had, one that sticks out, it was memorial day. the president invited the oldest living african-american veteran to the white house. which sounds like it would be a great photo and great thing for the news media to see, and it was only done by the white house photographer, and therefore it was put on instagram and twitter and so forth. those were the things that really irritated me about that. pete is a great photographer, he did a great job. he had the trust of the president like no other photographer. but i felt that at times we were on the short end of that because we were not allowed into every
event that we are, certainly, now. host: how would you describe the photographers that the white house has hired around president trump, compared to the others? doug: not a lot of different. -- difference. sorry about that. [indiscernible] who is now the white house photographer for donald trump, president trump, she worked in the bush administration. there is another female photographer who worked for president bush on the first lady staff. on laura bush's staff. i think she has two or three other, i think it is mostly a female staff. they are great. none of them are former photojournalists that were working as press photographers, much like the obama administration. pete was a working press photographer.
lawrence jackson, from the associated press, was a working photographer. you had chuck kennedy who was a working photographer in washington, d.c. they were working in d.c. and doing what we do every day. host: here is a photograph you took in front of the white house, what is that? where is the president? doug: the president is on the south lawn of the white house. it was an event for unions and truckers. it was a normal event, you know, where the president got up and spoke at the podium. there were members of congress there. there were two tractor-trailer sitting behind him as props. they filled up the frame nicely, they look great. at the end of it, i think a number of us photographers were joking, wouldn't it be wild if he got into the cab. everyone said he is not going to do that. sure enough, he climbed up there and grabbed a hold of the wheel
like he had road rage, and it was hilarious. it made for a great picture. it was not a side i have seen of him like that. obviously, he was having fun, joking with it. you can see the members of congress there and other trucking officials who were taking pictures with their cell phones. host: if you are around him so much more than you expected, what do you see a close that we -- up close that we don't see on television or photos? doug: that is a great question. what do i see up close? obviously, he enjoys having us around. i really believe despite his constant, you know, comments about fake news and the media, i really feel he enjoys having us around, because it helps drive his message. it helps drives the news of the day, which he can do and does do every day. he is constantly driving that message. therefore, having us around really allows him to do that. and i think he has
personalities, reporters he really looks to. when we are on air force one, he will come back and chat with us. and there are reporters that he obviously has read their stories and speaks to them on a first name basis. he has not gotten to know photographers in the same way. he may know my name, but he is never said to me -- hey, doug. unlike other presidents. again, he has only been in office one year. i think he knows who i am. i think he knows i worked for -- work for "the new york times." host: the failing "new york times." doug: the failing "new york times," exactly. that hurts, "the new york times" is the greatest news organization in the world. we do not put out fake news. that gets under my skin when i hear it. i think a lot of journalists feel that way, when they are around him and he says that. host: have you ever had a conversation with him? doug: for the white house news photographers contest, we were
invited to the oval office to have our picture taken with him. it was a brief handshake. that was the first time i had ever shaken his hand. i think it was the first time i realized he knew who i was. he said something to the other photographers like, oh, he is very good. you watch out for this guy. i realized, then, that he knew who i was and who i worked for. it is definitely different, he is not a politician. every time you are in the oval office, you realize that. when he is around members of congress, to have a cabinet room photo op about immigration and be in their for about 55 minutes. we were flies on the wall while they were negotiating the immigration bill. it was fascinating. it was unprecedented. i even said to lindsey graham, senator lindsey graham was sitting right in front of me while i was taking pictures. i said this is unbelievable, he
said i know. it's remarkable. it's different. host: on that particular day, did they tell you this was going to happen? doug: we had no idea. in fact, the photo op was on the president's schedule, which we get every day. it's emailed to all the journalists covering the white house. that day it stated the meeting was going to take place, but it said closed press. but a lot of times the president, i think, or someone on the senior staff says we have to get the media in for this, or the president will ask for the pool. he says a lot about where the press pool is, get them in, i want them in. we thought it would be a couple of minutes and we would get out. yet we stayed in for 55 minutes. it was remarkable. host: here's a photograph of an important person in the white
house. who is it and where did you get this photo? doug: this was taken during a meeting with members of congress. sitting there with his hands up to his face was the chief of staff, john kelly, who i have gotten to know on a hello, nice to see you, sir at a couple of off the record events the white house has had. i have great respect for him. he is very nice to me, very kind to me. it was the first time, that is normally where the vice president sits. i think the vice president was traveling that day. we were in the room and a lot of times when the vice president is sitting in that seat, there is a secret service agent directly behind him. so, we are not allowed to have that kind of perspective, right over whoever's head is sitting directly across from the president. i realize that and jumped right into it.
host: is that normal that they do not let you have that kind of position? doug: it has happened during the trump administration, where there has been -- i don't recall it happening during with vice president biden and president obama sitting across from him, but now there is a lot more security. we see a lot more secret service around. and the white house has a lot of new faces in the media. and therefore, there are a lot more secret service agents around us and the media. it seems tighter in that regard. host: who is the person in this photograph with a jacket over his head? doug: that was taken from one of -- the press va
ns one evening at the white house. the president and first lady were heading out. we saw his son, barron was up by the motorcade. i saw him walk across the lawn. normally, we are not allowed to photograph any of the children. we always give them that respect that we aren't going to photograph him unless the president is around. because he was around and we thought he was leaving, the ball started rolling, i thought i should get this. in case they see this video. so, i started photographing. as soon as the two boys saw the tv cameras, they put their jackets over their head. which made it kind of funny and different. you know, the boy, barron always has a secret service agent with him. so, just like every member of the trump family and like every member of the obama family group -- family, they had constant secret service around.
i think they just like, sasha and melia, going to school, barron has secret service with him in school. host: this is a unique photo. people can see your stuff independently on twitter. how do they do that? what is the address? doug: nytmills is my twitter handle. this picture was actually taken during that 55 minute meeting we had with immigration. it was the first time i ever saw the number 45 embroidered on his sleeve. i am always fascinated with his cufflinks. the president has a unique array of cufflinks that i always try and photograph or get a detailed shot if we are in the meeting long enough. because we are in their a lot of -- we are in there a lot of times, we get to see these things. this was one, when i took it, i thought this is different and unique. luckily, i did not tell my other colleagues because there are 8-10 photographers in the same room.
i am using a newer camera. i am using a sony camera, which is completely silent. i can be standing next to my colleagues and formally, they -- formerly, they could hear me take pictures, now it is silent. that helped to make that image. i think if i had been -- photographing while he was speaking, something like that, they would have heard, so it helped. host: let's talk about the technology. the first time in 1996 you were shooting with a dcs3, is that a canon? doug: the models have changed every couple years. host: d1x, when you came in 2000. doug: these are ancient, now. host: so, what's the difference?
show us what you are using now. doug: it is a sony a9, it is a mirrorless camera. the mirror, when you press the shutter, it does not go up and down. you won't hear any noise. i am taking pictures now. you can't hear anything. host: snap it, let's hear what it looks like. doug: you can see the red light going on. it is taking pictures but you will not be able to see it, because it is completely silent. host: when did that come on the market? doug: earlier in the year, i have been using it now probably about eight months. i was asked to try it out and see what i thought. i have been a canon photographer for 35 years, probably more than that. my first camera was a canon, they do not make a mirrorless camera. and so sony came to me and asked if i would be willing to try it and see what i thought. and i picked it up, i played with it for a few hours.
i remember saying to one of the technicians that this is a game changer. this is -- i want to use this camera. host: how does it change the game? doug: one, because it's silent. for what we do in politics, it helps immensely bit that is one -- because that is one of the biggest complaints when photographers are around the president or members of congress, when the cameras are going off, it is hard to hear what the president is saying or everybody else in the room. so, that helps being a game changer. also, it is 20 frames per second, and can fire 20 frames per second, which is twice when i was using before. so, if i am shooting sports with this, it doubles my frame rate, the amount of pictures i can get, the exact moment of the peak action.
i use it sometimes for politics, where i will turn it up to 20 frames per second. if i am chasing somebody around, like robert mueller, you are running up and down the steps. when you finally get to him, i have used it and i have like 50 pictures of him. that was in an eight-second window of it seeing him, maybe less than that. host: what about quality? doug: the quality is fantastic. yeah. i am a true believer -- i have used canon's all my life. eventually, i am sure nikon and canon will come out with mirrorless cameras. right now, that is a great camera. i can take a picture and send it
directly from their and to my smart phone and from my smartphone to the office. i can stay in the back of the white house briefing room and take a picture and send it directly from their straight to the office. host: on one of your visits you were full of computers. you have to do that anymore? doug: i do. being part of the press pool, when we travel with the president, i take my computer, so i can put on a caption and crop and tone pictures. it does have all of the wi-fi to get on the internet. if i know i am on a deadline or i know that the office is waiting on something, i can send it directly. like, during the campaign, i did a lot of that. i sent it directly from the camera. i still do it now. i am heading off to the
olympics, and i will be doing it every day there. so, yes, i don't carry the laptop as much as i don't carry it as much as i used to. i am sure that eventually the software will be piped in cameras to allow us to do that. host: can a civilian by this camera? doug: oh, yes, they are on the market. host: how much? doug: they are cheaper than most of the slr's out there. i want to say i think they are under $5,000. i know the others are around $10,000. host: with other photographers, do they use the silent camera? doug: yes, other photographers from getty, reuters, sony came into washington and tried to see if other photographer would be willing to use them, to let them try it out and see if they would be willing to switch. i have completely switched. some of my colleagues would like to completely switch.
it is a matter of having a larger staff. photographers at ap would be hard to outfit every photographer who wanted to switch. same with getty, and reuters, it is tough when you have a large staff like that. luckily, "the new york times" has purchased it for me and i am thrilled right now. host: let's go back to some of you are still photographs. these have been taken from twitter. here is one from the white house briefing room. doug: that one got a lot of interesting comments on twitter. it was a day when we had seen the president couple times, i believe. the white house press secretary, sarah huckabee sanders, who i have gotten to really know and respect, she has the toughest job in the white house, by far, she was doing her daily briefing. because we had seen the president a couple of times and where my desk is at the white house reading room, it is all the way in the back. i can hear on the pa when the
secretary comes in and starts speaking. i was not planning to go out and photograph her until question started. when she said she had a guest with her, i grabbed my camera and run up to the briefing room. that would be his first time in the briefing room. all of a sudden, a feed shows on the monitor. all of a sudden it was like, this is a first, i have never seen this. it was an interesting day. her face -- the questions that she got about it, they were interesting. but again, she has a tough job. just like sean spicer, it is a very tough job. host: late last year, in november, steve ducey and mike huckabee on "fox and friends," in the morning, brought your name up. let's watch what the exchange was and i want to ask you questions about this.
>> there was a moment where a "new york times" photographer was upset, the day before, they were not allowed to cover this. he actually took this picture, and "the washington post" said mills got his revenge for that awkward moment. the revenge was, governor, the president of the united states, had a grimace. he did not look his best. >> these cameras are like a machine gun going off, how many frames per second they are taking these shots. he has hundreds of pictures from that very scene to take from, and he picks an isolated frame so it looks bad. this is what people get so disgusted by. this was a hit job trying to make president trump look bad. doug: it was not a hit job. i had no intention of doing a
hit job on this president or any president. that's, you know, i was there, i made that picture, just like 20 other photographers who were there. i happened to tweet mine out first. it went viral. because of that, i was criticized for it. it did not help the day before, or, excuse me, yes, the day before i tweeted out a blank frame. because we were at a summit and had no coverage of the president of the united states. host: there it is. doug: so i tweeted out -- this is the first time i had ever been to a summit and never been able to photograph the president. much less, the family photo, when you hear a family photo, you think that is for the photographers and the camera crews. we were not allowed into that. host: what was driving that? was it the vietnamese?
doug: from my understanding, the vietnamese came to the white house and said, ok here is the deal. we are giving each country does two credentials for the press, and that is it. the two credentials that came to the u.s. press, one went to fox, and one went to the press photographer. when i found that out, i was fuming. i was out of my mind. how could this happen? the white house push back and i had a conversation with sarah about it. they were giving one credential and they did not have a credential for the white house photographer. so, my feeling was, if it is a press credential or a credential to get in, it should be given to the press. you know, i thought, you with the white house staff pens, you can roll them. just send it in. no one is going to stop a photographer from traveling.
nobody is going to stop them. send them in and give the other credential to a member of the white house press corps. a trip like that cause the new york times probably $60,000 to go on a trip like that. for us not to be in the room, we are there to cover the president. and not to have access to it -- unfortunately, a story was written about the blank frame, then the next day i got my revenge, that is what the narrative was. his narrative was, doug mills got revenge with an awkward handshake picture. host: who made the choice? did this picture end up in "the
new york times?" doug: they did not publish it. it was on twitter the handshake picture, it did. the next day, i think we went from vietnam to the philippines. the next day, the front page of every newspaper had the same picture. it was the ap picture. everybody made that picture. i have some that look worse than that. host: how often do you are those discussions about the new york times from somebody like mike huckabee that is in your mind misleading? doug: that was completely misleading. host: except you were mad, though? doug: i was mad the day before. i was out of my mind the day before because we were not given access.
the next a we were given access. other leaders make remarks, they got on stage for the handshake. it was a really awkward handshake. every photographer took it. it brought back memories of when president bush, 43, went to china and went to open the door after a news conference and the door was locked. he had this incredibly twice more awkward phase, and that picture went on to the front page. nobody went after him. twitter is black and white. there is no right or wrong. everybody has an opinion. on twitter, everybody goes after you if they feel you are being unfair. host: when you appeared in 1996, i hate to remind you of that, 22 years ago, but when you appeared here in 1996, a woman called and was upset that we were showing pictures of bob dole in shorts. she accused you of doing this on purpose. doug: i remember that. bob dole was running for president and he came down from the pool and he started walking around the beach in his shorts.
he didn't have any problems with nobody on the staff ever complained. host: why did somebody in the audience think you are out to get him? doug: that is a great question. no matter who you work for, and i was working with the associated press at the time. i think people think photographers have agendas and are biased. i couldn't be further from being biased. i just do my job. i photograph what is in front of me. i don't tell the president what to do, i don't tell him what not to do. i don't not put out a picture because i think the president -- it didn't happen, if something happens and i have it on camera or disk, it is not fake. host: i have got to ask, though, you have seen newspaper editors, photo editors, the drudge
report, people use pictures politically to show somebody in a bad way. doug: right, yes, that is true. again, that fox and friends video put me and a bad light the same way. they used that picture, they did not send out any of my other ones. i did not treat them out, but i sent probably 40 to "the new york times." they did not look to see the most awkward they could find. for a lot of you photographers they looked a lot more awkward but that was not my intention.
it is an awkward moment. he is with world leaders. host: here is a photograph that shows what cartoonists, newspapers, "time magazine" covers love to do, the hair. doug: they do. as i said, it is iconic. his hair is amazing. this was on that same same asia trip. i think we were leaving china and going out, the wind caught his hair, as it does sometimes. i had to question in my mind, should i send this, should i tweet about it? all of my colleagues shot it. i saw the video from it, and it looks the same way. it is not like i am attacking the president, we are just showing something that happened. people talk about his hair. his children have talked about his hair. it is not -- i don't think, he has talked about his hair, i am
not going after him. but it is, it is interesting. host: here is that november photo in korea with the presidential plane -- we don't see much of mrs. trump. doug: the first lady was on the trip with us. at this point, they had two separate schedules. we had no idea they were going to depart. we don't get those kind of details in our schedules. the president had gotten off the plane, the world leaders were there, politicians, members of the diplomatic corps, they were reviewing the troops. right at the end, the first lady came up and gave him a kiss. she went one way, he went the other. we were asking where she is going. they said she had a complete different schedule than the president does. that is how that one came about. host: at the uss arizona in hawaii, the first question i have for you is how did you get this picture, because there is a gulf between you and the president and the first lady? doug: that is at the pearl
harbor memorial. it is an amazing place to be. i don't know if you have ever been there. it is solemn, dramatic, it is so well done. we were standing on the other side. the president came in with the lady on a separate vote -- boat. they brought the press pool in a different boat. we saw the chief of staff looking at the memorial. we have a picture of him looking at the memorial. it was very solemn. the president and first lady looked at the names. looking at the names of those who were killed, service members who were killed. as they were leaving, i think the president and first lady
were supposed to do this. we didn't know that we were going to see this. we didn't know as a press pool we were going to get to see this. they said, hey, come around. there is another balcony and it looks like he is standing just above the water. they threw the rose petals up in the air and in the water. i think they were one of the native hawaiian flowers. host: we will come back more on president trump. this was a video from 2016 when you were on the hillary clinton campaign. what is a 360? doug: this was a big project the "new york times" was doing during the election. host: are you carrying the camera? doug: i am carrying the camera. it looked like an eyeball. you would set it down, it basically would allow you to see a 360-degree view of everything. this one here sat on the ground
on a monopod. i just left it there. i am not even near it because i would be in frame. secretary clinton walked over and was shaking hands. if you have the vr glasses on, which are very cool and fascinating, you can basically stand around and look at an event like that. host: there you are. who is moving the camera? doug: when you put the glasses on, you move it. it is stationary. you can follow everything around you in 360. it is fascinating. i used it on the campaign for months. then i went over and they said can you switch gears and go over to donald trump and use it? pack up my gear, found out what schedule i would be on.
i went out with donald trump and on the first day i put it down in the press pool. one of the secret service guys said what are you doing? i said is a 360 degree camera. i have been using on the hillary campaign. he said, you are not using that on our campaign. i said what do you mean? it is no different. they said it could be used as a weapon, get it out of here. i went and pleaded with the staff. this is what i have been doing and they said it is a secret service call and you cannot use it. i went and begged other people and they said if you put it up on stage, and that does not give you the same effect and has to be in a very strategic spot. i could not do it. host: how is that any different
than the camera you carry? doug: i don't know. believe me, i went to the shift leader on the campaign, trump's detail, and tried to explain to them what i was doing. he said it is too dangerous. someone could reach over and grabbed and start swinging. it never even occurred to me that is what it could be used as. i have used it for two to three months with hillary. host: how often do you find yourself in an argument with a staff person for some for a candidate of the president or the secret service? doug: during the campaign? quite a bit. not an argument, but a discussion. maybe an argument about why things are being done the way they said things were going to be done. with the white house, there is a lot less arguing with the secret service, because they are in charge. the president's staff will
listen to their recommendations. they will listen to what the recommendations are. my experience has been it is up to the president's staff. they say this photographer is allowed to go here. they say, ok. they go tell the secret service this photographer can go there and then they say ok. if they are confident in who they are and trust them. there are moments on the campaign with photographers and staff, most of it is out of frustration about not being able to make a decent picture. it is about this is what photographers need and this is why we need it. this is to help your candidate. we cannot be here or there. this is not right. host: let's go through quickly a lot of your photographs. make a couple comments, and then we'll just keep moving through. this one is from october, 2017. doug: that was on a trip to south carolina. the president arrived there just as the sun was setting. it was a dramatic -- i shot it with the sony, i was able to look it up beforehand. i really tried to do a silhouette because i thought it would be cool.
i had one or two frames with that. host: here you are aboard marine one. this was in a flooded area. doug: that was shortly after the hurricane, and the president went down to visit. the press pool was flying in a separate helicopter. it has an open back or windows on the side. a lot of photographers went to the back of the helicopter to try and shoot out the back. i went to the side and asked the marine who was standing if i could stand next to him and shoot out the window. host: do you have to pay for that? doug: it is expensive. for news organizations to travel with the president it is outrageous. i think "the new york times" probably spends $750,000 per year to travel with the president. host: here is a familiar figure. doug: he is a lightning rod. host: what can you say? did you have any interaction
with him? doug: yes. a couple of. you know, you see steve bannon around the white house quite regularly. he was not familiar with the >> he was not really friendly with the press. he never said hello to me. i was in a meeting one time when he walked in. i think he was with sean spicer and other members of the white house correspondents association. i think his comment was something like -- you are meeting with the enemy. he said that publicly. you would see him around. he always made great pictures. again, he is a very different kind of subject. host: you mentioned robert mueller. is this the picture you got? doug: it is. he was meeting before the select committee on the hill. it was private, you couldn't
stand by the door where he was. there are a lot of rules in the senate about where photographers can and cannot be. you are walking back and forth and walking back and forth and all of a sudden you see the security guards are gone from the door and he is going out the back door. senate, you could see them going up and down steps. wondering where he is going to come out. many photographers were running. upstairs, around elevators, of more stairs, and then ran outside and probably had five seconds before we saw the first security guard escorted him to his car. i try to stay in shape in order to do this young man's job, and it pays off. it is a fast-paced game, at
times. host: this next photo got you an interview in your own newspaper, page two. why? doug: the anticipation of the former director coming to the hill, after he had been fired, to talk about the firing and to talk about president trump. it was like the super bowl up there. there was so much hype. security was tight. once he got there, i used a camera with the monopod on it. i try not to overuse that. i try and pick and choose when i am going to use that. i thought this would be a good opportunity to do that. host: let's show the photo you also took at the same time from the back of the room. if you look closely there, you can see your own self. somebody is next to you with another one.
doug: i had four different remote cameras set up that day. i had set this one up at 7:00 a.m. in the back of the room in a window. so, i was able to fire wirelessly. when i was taking this picture, looking down on director comey, it was taking with that camera, this one over here, and another over there. all on the windows, not on the floor. readers don't understand how much effort goes into an event like this. again, it was like the super bowl. my colleague was thinking the same way that he wanted to try the same way. he was with the associated rest. -- associated press. he wanted to do the same thing. host: do they help you? doug: i work on my own. there is a lot expected of us. i try not to let them down. that is my goal.
never take any assignment lightly. every event, especially something like that needs to be covered like the super bowl. host: you also carried another camera, what is that one? doug: that is the sony also, it doesn't have a motor drive. it is great. i will turn it on so you can see everything, like this. so, i can take your picture right now but you cannot hear it. yet, there it is. there you are. you can't hear a whisper of a noise. host: when and will we, as an audience, when we listen to the clicks at these events, when will we not hear it anymore? what is your prediction? doug: that is a great question i -- question. i would say maybe one year or two. some of my colleagues and fox news -- every time there is a
photo opportunity where they can -- can't hear the president because of the cameras. he will say to me, i wish that everyone would do what doug mills is doing. it helps for a lot of reasons. believe me, i hate having that sound drown out what the president is saying or whoever you are photographing. it is distracting. it does make it seem like a news event. when you hear that clicking, even for people watching it, i am sure there is a reaction, they hear the shutter. they are not necessarily worried about what he is saying yet, but it is drama and it is dramatic. it is not a studio. it is kind of a catch 22. host: here is a company separate -- completely separate location. this is in the supreme court. this was in june 2017. what is this event like, how often do you get to take this picture? doug: this one is only taken
every time there is a new member of the supreme court. it is fascinating. i have done it two or three times now. my colleague has also done it a number of times. it is a fascinating day. you go to the supreme court very early in the morning and you set up in this room. you draw straws about what position you are going to be. you draw numbers, basically. it gives you the position you are going to stand in. you go into the room, you put your camera down on the floor. then you leave. all of the justices come in, they pose for the supreme court photographer. then they say, give us one minute, then we will let the media in. the media is allowed to come in, but you cannot just grab a camera and start shooting. you go in, and there is somebody is standing with a stopwatch. because they can hear their shutters, they say you cannot
take pictures yet. they said, ready, begin. so, then i think we have like 90 seconds. the justices sit there like this. most of the time they are staring right at you. there is not much interaction back and forth. host: how did you do it this time? did you do individuals? doug: great question. you make sure you get a good overall. because it is such limited time, you cannot tell if somebody's eyes are closed, or if they have an awkward look or an awkward smile. you also have to get, or i am required to get, head shots of everybody. every time there is a story about the supreme court, there may be a separate story of a certain justice, and they want to use the headshot. we do not see them much. we see them state of the union, every once in a while they will do a speech, but we do not get to see them in their robes.
host: how often are you allowed to take this picture? doug: only when there is a new justice. so, when someone retires, that's it. you would think it would be done every year, but no, it's every time there is a new justice on the supreme court. host: now that you have the silent camera, they won't know. doug: exactly. i can walk in and shoot right away. host: here is the speaker of the house, where did you do this one? doug: paul ryan has a weekly press conference, after he meets with all of the republican members of house. he walks into a small room at the capital, which looks bigger on television, but it is a small room. he answers two or three questions. maybe four. he comes out, i was able to meet him at the door. i was basically standing right in part of him, impeding him. i knew i could not stay there the whole time. i took a couple of quick pictures and then stepped out of the way. i noticed the door was open and people walking by and i could
see their reflections. nobody had walked in yet like that. as soon as he walked to the door, i noticed the door was ajar. it worked. host: this is one of the many photos you have taken on a golf course of the president. how hard do they work to prevent you from getting the shots. doug: pretty hard. host: why? doug: i don't know. no matter what president, they get criticized for playing golf. they have the hardest job in the world, and when they go play golf, there are people on sides of the aisle complaining he is playing golf. whether it was president obama, president clinton, bush, reagan did not play golf, i did not see it. this was mar-a-lago and him getting in to play golf. we do not get to see him play golf there. some tv crews have recently
found a little window to see him going from one hole to the next. they had video of him and then once it aired, they brought in a truck and blocked the area. now they have planted trees. host: this photograph -- the general public would be interested in? doug: yes, just the way all the way the reporters are sitting around waiting for the press secretary to come in. i think this was during sean spicer's era. and it is a packed house. most of the time, it is busy. i think sean had probably higher ratings than sarah. i think sarah has a way of bringing the temperature down in the briefing room. with sean, the temperature was always up. host: there is a photograph i have seen online where there are numbers on the people that says who they are.
doug: i think early on, sean probably used that. i don't think sarah used to that. i think sarah pretty much knows everybody now. there are a lot of people who come into that briefing room, and sometimes for the first time, she doesn't know them. i don't know if she calls on them because she doesn't know them, but i am sure she can look at a reporter and no what kind -- know what kind of question she is going to get. host: how soon did you know you had an unusual photograph like this one? doug: that was at the african american museum. that was one of those where all of my colleagues were to my left, and i tried to go farthest to the right. i did not like what we were going to be seeing. luckily, the president turned down the hallway and i saw the sign. you do not see them talking quietly like that. she had his ear at the time. omarosa had the president's ear. she was a confidante of him. she was around a lot. once reince priebus left and general kelly took over, we saw
a lot less of her. the meetings were really made tighter. you can tell immediately when you went into a meeting in the cabinet room, there were people that were going and the numbers were up. therefore, we were a distraction. that has changed a lot. general kelly has brought the numbers down to the meetings and you see it. we see it as members of press going into the room. host: how long can you keep this up? you said it is a young man's game. doug: it definitely is a young photographer's game. i'm probably, i don't know, i am 58 this year. i would like to do it until i am 65. if i stay in shape and stay healthy -- i am training right now for the olympics. they are coming up. i am training with a backpack on and 30 pounds on my back, walking the hills like i will be on the ice.
host: by the time people see this, the olympics may have been -- how long do they run? a month? doug: a month. i leave on february 3 and come back at the end of february. host: first of all, the audience needs to know that your wife runs a radio station. how are your daughters? doug: they are grown up. they are lovely young ladies now. they are 23 and 25. host: still not interested in photography? doug: the younger one does. she has quite an instagram feed. she has two instagram feeds. the other is in pr and marketing. they love their jobs, they are at great companies. as parents, kate and i are delighted for them. it is great to see them grow up. host: "new york times" photographer doug mills, thank you for this periodic update on your activity. doug: always a pleasure, thank you for having me.
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