AUSTIN — In the history of the United States, there have only been 10 people with all-access passes to the presidents and their families -- the White House photographers. And one of those photographers -- who is from Georgetown, Texas -- is remembering his time photographing former President George H. W. Bush, shortly after his passing.
KVUE's Ashley Goudeau had the privilege of interviewing former White House photographer David Valdez Saturday.
Valdez served as a White House photographer in the early 80s and 90s and captured candid moments between the Bush family, including this iconic photo of the Bush's and their grandchildren.
When asked about his time photographing Bush family, Valdez said his experience with the former president still impacts him to this day.
"And, you know, to this day, 20-plus years later, I'm still impacted by that experience," Valdez said. "We traveled in that time to 75 countries and all 50 states. I saw them both in public and in private, in happy times and in sad times in the heights of political success and the losses of political campaigns."
Valdez said he will never forget his first time in Kennebunkport, Maine, where Bush grew up.
"He was saying as a little boy, 'I used to go swimming here and you and I ought to do that' and I said, 'well, I'm dressed and I have all these cameras and that's the Atlantic Ocean' and he said, 'no it'll be fun.' He said, 'look, I have some swimming suits and we walked back up house.' We both put on swim suits, we walked back down to the pier and he said on the count of 3 we'll jump. So 1,2,3, I jumped and he walked back to the house," explained Valdez, laughing.
Valdez said the President had him from that point on. The two became good friends.
"Every once in a while, he would just kind of hit me with his elbow and say, 'can you believe us two guys from Texas doing this?'" Valdez recalled.
Valdez was there for every moment, even when Bush's mother was on her death bed. Telling KVUE about it moved Valdez to tears.
"He asked me to go in to the bedroom with him and take one last photo. That was hard. You know I went everywhere with him and I really didn't want to do that but he was boss," said Valdez.
Valdez also got emotional speaking about the 41st President of the United States as a person.
"When you think about George H. W. Bush, you think about his life and his career," Valdez said. "But when you think about him as an individual, his favorite title was husband, father and grandfather," Valdez added, holding back tears."
Valdez said the passing of Bush is a devastating loss to the United States.
"He never talked about legacy. He didn't like to talk about that, but this is the end of an era," Valdez emotionally explained. "It's a great loss for our country."
Mr. Bush was elected president on Nov. 8, 1988, sworn in on Jan. 20, 1989, and served until Jan. 20, 1993.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University here.