Behind the Photo: Tom Williams’ Favorite Photos
In this installment of our “Behind the Photo” series, photographer Tom Williams discusses his favorite photos he’s taken over years on Capitol Hill.
Williams has made a tradition of sending friends, via social media, archive photos that he’s captured from moments around the hill on their birthdays. “I just had all these pictures accumulated that maybe I got around to email the person, maybe I didn’t,” Williams said. “Pictures of staff and pictures of the reporters are, a lot of times, the best pictures you got out of the event. … So when someone’s birthday comes up, that’s a great way to get that image out there.”
Williams reveals the story behind his award-winning photo of Gabrielle Giffords coming back to congress the first time after recovering from an attack where gunman shot her in the head. “There were some cops accumulating there, giving me a really hard time about being there,” Williams explained. According to Williams, he told the Capitol Police officer “I’m not going down that hallway.”
Another iconic picture of Williams is that of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, smoking. “I had maybe a three-second window before his press guy grabbed him,” Williams said. “I’ve always wanted to try to get Boehner smoking because we all know that Boehner is a big smoker.” Williams said that he didn’t feel this was a “gotcha thing” because he was in the media area. “I’ve heard his office doesn’t particularly like the picture, but they never said anything to me about it.”
Williams has been covering Washington for Roll Call since 2000. Since then, he has covered a number of major stories, including races for the White House and Senate seats, the Gulf Coast oil spill and national party conventions.
Watch him explain how he’s captured some of the biggest news makers and how he got his start in photography.