A bestselling author goes behind the lens of a legendary photographer to capture a magical time
A consummate photojournalist, Stanley Tretick was sent by United Press International to follow the Kennedy campaign of 1960. The photographer soon befriended the candidate and took many of JFK's best pictures during this time. When Kennedy took office, Tretick was given extensive access to the White House, and the picture magazine Look hired him to cover the president and his family. Tretick is best known today for the photographs he took of President Kennedy relaxing with his children. His photographs helped define the American family of the early sixties and lent Kennedy an endearing credibility that greatly contributed to his popularity.
Accompanied by an insightful, heartwarming essay from Kitty Kelley—Tretick's close friend—about the relationship between the photographer and JFK, Capturing Camelot includes some of the most memorable images of America's Camelot and brings to life the uniquely hopeful historical era from which it emerged.
Tretick's achievement is the masterful construction of legend through careful framing and omission and teamwork with his subjects. Indeed JFK choreographed much of this work himself. Captions and text by famed biographer Kelley (Oprah: A Biography) tell how the future president worked diligently to delete silliness and emotional excess from the campaign-trail public record, quickly removing an Indian headdress, for example, or avoiding the lens while eating and eschewing overt affection toward his wife. As a result, when JFK's more candid expressions of worry and joy poke through in Tretick's photos, they prove startling still. Photographer and subject figured out early how to surround Kennedy with children, of whom there were plenty. The effort to soften and humanize the president reaches its apex in the famous image of John Jr. playing under his father's Oval Office desk. Indeed, Tretick spoke openly of his desire to accede to "the family's wishes," proudly reproducing thank-you notes from the proto-royals and admitting matriarch Rose's dissatisfaction with a shot of brother Bobby atop NFL star Rosy Grier's shoulders at a rowdy party. The opposite of Goldin and Avedon's warts-and-all images, Tretick's work is a noteworthy example of unapologetically romantic American portraiture.