The stoic presidential portrait on the new John Fitzgerald Kennedy stamp has received praise for the photographer who captured it.
But the iconic shot almost didn’t happen.
Ted Spiegel was 26 years old and on assignment for the state of Washington in 1960. Then-Sen. Kennedy was holding a presidential campaign rally at Seattle’s Victory Square.
Spiegel, now 86, remembers Kennedy seated by the podium before his speech.
“He was looking up at office building windows crammed with cheering supporters,” Spiegel said. “It was a highly energetic moment.”
Having elbowed his way to a good shooting position on the platform, Spiegel “put camera to eye and realized the lens had frozen — its focus had locked at 6 feet.”
Spiegel needed to recreate a focusing lens to avoid a blurry shot.
“[I had to] move my body back and forth to achieve sharp focus on his eyes,” Spiegel recalled. “A few clicks and a shift in viewpoint yielded a dramatic image.”
He continued: “For me, this photograph captures Kennedy sensing his responsibility to the public’s response.”
Though he never met the 35th president, Spiegel feels “strongly that the stamp carries forward [Kennedy’s] outreach to everyone [from] Victory Square and beyond.”