Sharon Farmer, former White House photographer during the eight year Clinton-Gore administration and personal photographer for the Clinton family, gave a lecture on her life experiences from radical college student to artist photography to dynamic lecturer. Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. in Brooks Hall Gallery, an open reception was held for Farmer. During the reception, nearly 30 photographs of Farmer’s work throughout the years were unveiled and opened for public display. The exhibit will remain open and visual from now until Feb. 7. Following the reception, Farmer gave a lecture at Burns Auditorium in Kamphoefner Hall at 6 p.m..The event was free and open to the general public and all those interested in her life journey as a female African-American photographer in the White House.
Farmer shared her story of how she attended Ohio State University as a bassoon major. After realizing she did not want to major in the bassoon, Farmer switched her major to photography. She said she switched because she was intrigued on how photos made in the dark room actually came out, and after seeing her results, Farmer would be excited and say, “Wow, I did that?” As Farmer saw the quality of her work blossom, she would begin to as she called it, “ego-trip,” and this lead her to want to further her career as a professional photographer.
One day, while sitting at home, Farmer said she received a phone call from someone who said they wanted her to take pictures at the White House, and she hung the phone up in disbelief. Immediately after hanging up the phone, it rang again and the caller identified himself and Farmer slowly began to believe this was truly a caller from the White House. Shortly after, Farmer was actually working as the assistant for the same photographer who had called her home. During Farmer’s lecture, she told many stories about her encounter and adventure as she worked at the White House with former President Clinton, his family, and his staff. Farmer said that the “fun thing about President Clinton was that he always took time to listen to others,” which inadvertently caused them to run late on many occasions. She spoke of how she has traveled upon Air Force One, which Farmer described as a “huge traveling office building.” It was like nothing she had ever seen before. During three of the eight years that Farmer worked under the Clinton-Gore administration, she served as the Director of White House Photography. Farmer said she never got bored with her job nor lost her enthusiasm for photography. Upon waking up each day she would think, “Yay! Another day, so let’s get with it.”
Today, Farmer is currently working as an independent photojournalist, who for more than 30 years has been a professional photographer and exhibition photographer, shooting news stories, political campaigns, cultural events and more. Farmer mentioned many times in her lecture how she has literally witnessed history unfold while capturing on film many of the best known photos of the Clinton Administration.
Julianne Gonski, senior bachelor of art and design, said “It was awesome! It was also inspirational to see how her [Farmer’s] photography has impacted history.” Gonski went on to tell how it was good to see “someone who has worked in the White House for years to be so personable and friendly.”
Farmer has traveled all over the world and captured moments on film at every location. She “never leaves home without a camera” because a picture lasts a lifetime. Farmer will remain an honorable photographer, as her work lingers on for years to come.