Heard on the Hill

Newseum Exhibit Features Top Political Photography

This photo of former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan (left) was part of the package that won first place in the "Political Portfolio" category. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A picture is worth a thousand words — or so the saying goes.

But at the Newseum’s new exhibit “The Eyes of History 2012” — which features the best of the award-winning photography from the White House News Photographers Association’s annual photo competition — a collection of photos is worth a snapshot of the major world events of 2011.

This photo of freshman Rep. Joe Heck was part of the package that won first place in the "Political Portfolio" category and of the package that won third place in the "Picture Story/Politics" category. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“Despite the name, the White House News Photographers Association covers not only the White House and the president, but also major news events all over the world,” Cathy Trost, the Newseum’s vice president of exhibits, said. “From the Occupy movement to the Arab Spring to photos of life on Capitol Hill and the White House, the exhibit tells a sweeping story of biggest stories of 2011.”

The exhibit — while small — takes the viewer on a journey through 2011 by region and type of event.

From the black-and-white portraits of civil rights leaders taken by Washington Post photographer Nikki Kahn when the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial opened on the National Mall to Reuters photographer Larry Downing’s image of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama making shocked faces as they react to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s arrival at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in London, the photos collect the serious and the silly.

For those interested in the stories behind the snapshot, video screens feature interviews of the photographers whose photos appear in the exhibit explaining the thought process behind crafting powerful images.

Roll Call’s own Bill Clark, who won six Eyes of History awards — first place in the "political portfolio" category, four awards in the "on Capitol Hill" category and third place in the "picture story: politics" category — has three photos in the exhibit, including an image of freshman Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) riding the Metro.

Overall, the exhibit is meant to shine a light on the importance of photographers to the field of journalism and the struggle photographers have had in the past being seen as a critical part of the news process. After all, prior to 1921 when the WHNPA was created, photographers were banned from the Capitol (along with dogs). Until President Warren G. Harding created a press room, photographers at the White House were forced to stand outside and hope they could snap a shot of an important dignitary walking by.

“Photojournalists capture the moments that define our time,” Newseum CEO Jim Duff said in a release. “The prize-winning photos in this exhibit remind us of the critical role journalists play in recording the people and events that make history.”

Correction, Sept. 27 An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the number of awards Roll Call photographer Bill Clark received.