PHOTOGRAPHER GEORGE TAMES WAS born and raised in the shadow of the Capitol, so it was fitting that he made his name prowling the corridors of power. Over his more-than-50-year career, the ebullient New York Times White House photographer documented the terms of 10 presidents, from Franklin Roosevelt to George Bush. His candid shots-often comic, sometimes moving and always revealing-helped demystify the executive office and bring Americans closer to their leaders.
Tames, who died at 75 last week while undergoing heart surgery in Washington, D.C., was responsible for many of the best-known photographs of presidents and world leaders taken this century. President Eisenhower selected two Tames shots as official portraits, and another was the model for the six-cent stamp bearing his likeness. In one of Tames's most famous photographs, President Kennedy stands silhouetted in the Oval Office, hunched over his desk, the weight of the world seemingly on his shoulders. Such a picture couldn't be taken today. "The spontaneous nature of the photographs I made of presidents can never be repeated because of White House security restrictions," Tames lamented in his 1990 memoir "Eye on Washington." Even without restrictions, Tames's work would be hard to match.