With the presidential election only three weeks away, students usually observe the election from only an outside perspective. But on Monday night in the LLBCC, former Time photographer P.F. Bentley gave his audience the inside scoop on the presidential lifestyle through never-before seen images.
P.F. Bentley is a former photojournalist and Special Correspondent for Time magazine, but has also been published in the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, and many other media sources around the world. Bentley was the first photojournalist to depict the House floor in session through images.
“I kind of wanted to try a new thing,” said Bentley. “What would it be like to be in the campaign looking out, where I was out looking in? What happened after the show was gone?”
Bentley is respected throughout the print and broadcast community for earning access to presidential candidates during their campaigns, according to Bentley’s official website. His subjects range from past presidents, such as George Bush and Ronald Reagan, to presidential hopefuls such as Jesse Jackson and Bob Dole.
Bentley photographed Bill Clinton during his run for president. Clinton agreed over a hand shake that Bentley could shoot whatever he wanted.
Clinton requested that Bentley traveled with him and would never repeat what he had heard. Bentley ended up covering Clinton’s first presidential run in 1991 to 1992 and also the last week of his presidency.
One of Bentley’s images was chosen by Clinton to be displayed in his living room, according to Bentley. The picture portrays Bill and Hilary Clinton physically exhausted, lying together on a couch after a pizza meeting. To Clinton, it portrayed much more than an image of him and his wife. Bentley said that Clinton thought it “told the tale of how hard the campaign is, what happens to you.”
Bentley not only described the behind-the-scene moments he captured of the president, but also of history. He was in the White House when the twin towers fell in New York City. Bentley captured Bush and other politicians in his photographs while crucial decisions were being made.
Yet Bentley thought, “For the first time, we were one country.”
He described the Republicans and the Democrats being in the same room, and putting aside differences for the sake of the American people.
Although he witnessed this unity that was present during 9/11, he also saw it fall apart because of the nature of political parties.
Bentley left Time magazine 10 years ago and is currently a documentary filmmaker and editor for corporate clients, according to his website. Bentley now lives on a small island in Hawaii and describes it as “a good balance.” He hopes to retire in the near future.
At the closing of the event, Bentley was asked if he still has hope for the future of America.
“Yeah, I got hope,” said Bentley. “I got hope that like one day, that bulb will go off, and they’ll say, ‘Why are you arguing?’ And you know, when you look at the older guys, they knew how to do a deal. They could argue all day out there, but in the evening time they go out. There’s a lot of hate, so who pays for it? All of us do.”