OUT OF CHARACTER --- Most political pundits would never call Governor Gray Davis a wild and crazy guy. I would agree, except for one night at the state Democratic convention in San Jose. It was late, my deadline was approaching, I was packing up. I heard somebody in the crowd say, "Stick around, something good is going to happen." Glad I listened. Otherwise, I would have missed Jim Belushi and Governor Davis... as the Blues Brothers.

February 11, 2000.

One of my first assignments at the Capitol was to photograph the newest Speaker of the Assembly, labor organizer Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles. The guy lit up the room with his wit, charm and indefatigability. That day, there was nothing, it seemed, he couldn't do.
Jan. 7, 1999

SURPLUS --- Press conferences at the Legislative Analyst's Office were a bi-annual ritual for me. Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill was typically matter-of-fact in her pronouncements about her office's view of the state's finances. This time, she had a reason to smile: a predicted $10.3 billion surplus for the next fiscal year. Considering the state's fiscal straits since, this may have been the last time anyone laughed about California's budget.
November 15, 2000.

DEBATE --- What is it like documenting sessions of the Senate and Assembly from inside the chambers? I am often asked the question and the answer is the same, "It is like flying an airplane: 99% of the time there isn't much action but every once in awhile..." I was standing in the back of the Senate this day, when I heard two people talking uncharacteristically loudly. Keith Olberg, a Republican assemblyman, left, was arguing with Gil Cedillo, a Democratic assemblyman. The resulting image captures the passion of politics.
August 31, 2000.

Who says politicians don't like to kiss? And be kissed? At, top center then clockwise, an inauguration, a change of power, a campaign rally, a swearing in or a visit to the Assembly floor, politicans and their aides don't shy away from showing their love.
2002 to 2006.

THE DOME ---It is unusual to see a police helicopter flying so low and so close to the Capitol dome, but this day protesters were clashing with police over production of genetically-modified food. Even with so much going on down below, my attention was drawn upward to the majestic dome, the blue sky and what seemed like the building's protector.
June 23, 2003

THE HUG --- Even a press conference can be an opportunity to take a good photo, but that photo is almost never the person on the podium at the microphone. I try to arrive at press conferences half an hour early and watch people as they come in. When Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg showed up for a formal conference, he didn't walk straight to the microphones. With my back turned to the door, I head some noise whipped around and started shooting as Hertzburg bearhugged a surprised Senate President John Burton. The embrace was over in a seconds.
February 4, 2000.

GUARDED --- As part of his plan to deal with the energy crisis in 2001, Gov. Gray Davis met with Mayor Willie Brown and other Bay Area mayors to encourage them to cut their cities' electric consumption by 20 percent. The photograph has nothing to do with the energy shortfall, but it gives the feeling of what it is like to be an elected official: you are rarely alone, often inside the security bubble and insulated from your surroundings. Willie Brown in his black Fedora, Davis hatless, both guarded by one of Davis' security detail.
April 30, 2001

THE KICK --- I was in the Capitol for another assignment when a legislative staffer suggested I head to the Assembly floor. The Assembly was not in session but a group of Shaolin Monks from Hunan province in China was getting a special tour. As I prepared to leave after 10 minutes of hum-drum photos, I heard the group's translator encourage Wesson to kick one the Monks in the crotch, a method they use to toughen themselves. As Wesson approached the monk, I quickly dropped to the floor and stayed underneath a desk for a low angle shot. Wesson kicked three times, the monk never flinched, and I had one of my most memorable photos from a decade under the dome.
March 22, 2004

LOVE -- Courtney Love was one of numerous recording artists who came to the Capitol to testify against laws keeping them in long-term contracts. If you had walked through the halls that day, you would have seen Love, LeAnn Rimes, Don Henley, Patti Austin and others waiting their turn to speak. Even in a city filled with its own luminaries, the celebrity draw was strong. While most day-to-day committee hearings draw only small audiences, this panel packed the seats. September 5, 2001

SCARRED --- I remember telling a friend from Washington, D.C., about the openness and freedom at the Capitol when I arrived in late 1998. "You can walk right into the building without going through security?" he asked incredulously. Yes. No security checkpoints. No bag inspections. No guards at the entrances. In many ways, it was harder to get into a good restaurant or a popular nightclub than into the Capitol building. That innocence ended early in 2001, when a suicidal truck driver rammed his rig into the south entrance of the Capitol. As a result, discussion of a protective fence around the Capitol and security checkpoints at all entrances moved to the front burner - months before 9/11.
January 12, 2001

PEOPLE'S PARK --- If the Capitol is referred to sometimes as the People's house, then the grounds around it must be the People's Park. And a man who gave me his name as Hillbilly treated it as such, even though state police in riot gear were there as well. The day before, more than two dozen people had been arrested in the park during a demonstration against the production of genetically modified plants and animals. June 23, 2003.

PUPPETEER --- Sacramento was the site of an international conference on food bioengineering in 2003. The demonstrations against genetically modified plants swiftly moved from the convention center to the Capitol. While I had shot many frames of the police and demonstrators clashing, it was this smaller moment, when one of the puppeteers peeked from underneath his puppet, that caught my eye.
June 23, 2003

THE PRESSER --- For a photographer on a deadline to produce a good image, a call-in press conference is akin to water torture. What's there to shoot? For this event, the press release failed to mention it was a conference call, so I had showed up. I made the best of it, standing on a chair to capture the importance - and disembodied nature - of the event via the crazy quilt of notebooks and microphones. June 20, 2003

BACK PORCH --- This is my favorite photo from my decade under the Capitol dome. Speaker of the Assembly Herb Wesson had ordered a lockdown; nobody could leave the Capitol until a budget was passed. I, along with three other photographers, was there too, stuck in the press bay until an agreement was reached. During one of my late-night walks out on to the nearly vacant floor, I caught a faint whiff of cigar smoke. Through a window, I could see smoke rising from the second-floor portico - the unofficial outdoor lounge. I grabbed the longest lens I had, left the Capitol and found a vantage point on L Street to see who was on the deck: a group of Assembly members- Democrats and Republicans together- taking a recess and enjoying cigars and Scotch.
July 28, 2003

FUTURE --- Politics, at its core, is about the future. During a formal Medal of Valor ceremony at CHP headquarters, a 3-year-old girl, whose father had won one of the coveted awards, raced to the front of the stage. Gov. Gray Davis, who was presenting the awards, stopped the ceremony long enough to wave.
September 11, 2003

ATTRACTION --- It seemed as if every one of the more than 135 gubernatorial candidates made multiple appearances at the Capitol during the 2003 Recall campaign. One day, at least four were touring at the same time. I didn't photograph every candidate who stopped by, but my editors asked me to follow Arianna Huffington for the day. While many politicians claim to be non-traditional candidates, they all seem to be inexorably attracted to babies, in this case Ethan Pitts, age 5 months, and his dad. September 4, 2003.

FINDING THE LIGHT --- Covering then-candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger during the 2003 Recall campaign was a lot like shooting on a series of movie sets. Every press conference was perfectly lit, there were no dark spots. And he is the master of "finding the light," that ideal spot where the star stands. I knew that I would never have to worry about bad lighting when Schwarzenegger's crew was in charge.
September 18, 2003.

PREP --- State Sen. Tom McClintock, who was running for governor in the 2003 Recall election, allowed me extensive access during the lead-up to the election. Would he mind if I took some photos while he was having studio make-up applied before a live interview on a national news program? No problem. To me, this image is a metaphor for the intense preparation behind every aspect of campaigns.
October 1, 2003

FIRST LADIES --- The funeral mass for Maureen Reagan would have been a subdued event had it not been for the public and press standing for hours outside the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, waiting to see who would emerge. This image is an example of where patience and knowing where to stand paid off. Two of the last to leave the service were two of President Ronald Reagan's former wives, First Lady Nancy Reagan and movie star Jane Wyman, Maureen's mother.
August 17, 2001

VICTORY --- The day after Arnold Schwarzenegger defeated Governor Gray Davis in the Recall election, I got up early, figuring there would be some reflection of victory inside the Capitol: a gathering or celebration. Instead, the corridors were almost empty. The only visible indication of a change in leadership was the newspaper headline waiting at the door of each legislative office.
October 8, 2003.

RUNNING MAN --- The terminus of gubernatorial candidate Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's statewide Recall bus tour was, naturally, Sacramento. What better way to end the theatrical campaign than a confetti-strewn celebration on the Capital steps. But this warm autumn day, the small bits of paper kept sticking to his face, not part of the script.
October 5, 2003.

BATON PASS --- Body language was on my mind when I was picked as the lead pool photographer for the first official meeting between Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger and recalled Gov. Gray Davis. Who would enter the inner-sanctum first: its new tenant or its old? Where would they sit? Together? Apart? Would they look at each other? This photo told the story for me and, I hope, for the people who saw it.
October 23, 2003.

FAREWELLS --- I passed a colleague on L Street, the street with the best view of the Capitol, one morning and he mentioned that he had seen a group of Gray Davis staffers gathering around the corner on the east steps of the Capitol. It was just a couple days after Davis had lost in the Recall election and they wanted one last photo of themselves with their boss. I shot plenty of emotional images that morning - lots of crying, lots of hugging - but this is the one I liked best because it illustrates the resiliency of the human spirit. People were upbeat, ready to move on.
October 9, 2003

GENERATIONS --- On inauguration day after the Recall election, would it be possible to get into one frame Governor Schwarzenegger, his predecessor Gray Davis, and former governor Pete Wilson? Two of the three are career politicians, who recognize the value of appearances, so I was hopeful. I was stuck on a riser about 175 feet away on the main photo platform with a 400 millimeter lens. I watched and waited as Pete Wilson moved around the stage. When he perched behind Davis, I captured the moment. Sometimes even the best planning benefits from an assist by Lady Luck.
November 17, 2003

MAGIC PATH --- I call it the Magic Marble Path, the 100-foot corridor that connects the Governor's Office to the press conference room, 1190. This pathway always offered a sense of visual anticipation and possibility. The governor's security detail would block off the area 20 minutes ahead of time, tourists would gather sometimes 10-deep behind the velvet ropes, and the governor would emerge... this day with Danny DeVito and Clint Eastwood, who were named the newest members of the California Film Commission.
April 15, 2004.

CONSTITUENTS --- Even though his message was serious - push the California Recovery Plan - newly elected Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger frequently found himself surrounded by people who seemed to be bigger fans of Schwarzenegger the actor than Schwarzenegger the governor. Dozens held up photographs to be signed.
December 6, 2003

SERVING THE PUBLIC --- Frequently, legislators would abandon their typical business suit attire to make a point - one of the few visible manifestations of their stands on issues. On this day, senators donned aprons to protest a local minister's comment that it is sinful for a woman with children at home to serve in the Senate or Assembly. Jackie Speier, a mother of two -- who was then a state senator and now serves as a congresswoman from San Francisco -- was one of many who wore an apron in protest.
May 24, 2004

FIRED UP --- Sometimes photos tell a false story - or do they? I wasn't the only one who was a little nervous as Assemblyman Todd Spitzer brought very realistic toy guns to the Assembly floor that day. Everyone had been warned, and knew they were toys, but Spitzer's props still silenced the usually loquacious legislators. He was seeking votes for a bill to ban the public display of such weapons. The fear was real and the scare tactic had its desired affect. His bill passed easily.
August 15, 2004

OATH --- Ceremonial photographs tend to be rather mundane. This one wasn't. The historic Recall election was over. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was inaugurated Hollywood-style against a brilliant background of white stars on a blue background. People who have seen this photograph say it is so vivid, they can hear Schwarzenegger's voice. November 17, 2003.

FIRST COUPLE ---- After any public official takes the oath of office, the next official act is almost always hugging or kissing someone. With the oath finished, the new Governor paused for a moment, looked over at his wife Maria and then, they slowly got close to each other. I am sure the noise level of the crowd cheering was deafening, but my memory is of silence as they kissed, then an explosion of noise when they were done. It was like watching a well-choreographed movie. November 17, 2003

NO NONSENSE --- During his first press conference the day after being inaugurated, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's demeanor had changed markedly from what I had observed on the campaign trail. There was no light-hearted campaign banter between the governor and the press. As he took questions, California's 38th governor was in a no nonsense mood.
November 18, 2003.

THIRD HOUSE --- As the legislative session ends, the most crowded spot in the Capitol is always the hallway at the rear-entrance to the Assembly and Senate floors. This is the domain of the so-called Third House. Jammed with lobbyists hoping to turn a vote or two at the last minute, looking up at closed circuit TVs of the proceedings inside or scribbling notes on the back of business cards to send to legislators via the sergeants-at-arms, the corridor takes on a life of its own. I remember the area having the humidity of a sauna: too many bodies in too small space working much too hard. August 31, 2006.

ILLUMINATING --- The first day I walked into the Assembly and Senate in 1998. I was awed by the grandeur of the place: the always-polished desks, the rich green carpets in the Assembly and red carpets in the Senate. It is a visually magnificent setting. Even on slow days, when not much was happening, the light was always magic. Those were my thoughts when I took this image of Sen. Jack Scott speaking on a winter day.
January 5, 2004

UNVEILING --- The unveiling of the portrait for the previous governor is usually a joyous time, but this was no usual circumstance. Knowing Gov. Gray Davis would likely remain stoic, I stayed wide to include his wife Sharon in the frame. The couple watched the event in the Rotunda with an air of sadness. He was the first governor since 1959 not to serve two full terms. December 7, 2005

THUNDER --- How do you make a special photo out of a protest over health care cuts, especially one in its fourth or fifth day on the Capitol steps? Easy. Slow the shutter speed to ¼ of a second and make sure you have good earplugs.
May 8, 2006

WADER --- What is the reality of a event? Do you show the full setting of a press conference or do you zero on just what you would expect to see? Here the answer was obvious: show the whole scene. While Gov. Schwarzenegger signed legislation to create the Sierra Nevada Conservancy on the banks of Bear Creek near Colfax, his photographer, prepared with rubber boots, waded in to get a better shot.
September 23, 2004

BREASTS NOT BOMBS --- While there have been numerous anti-war protests at the Capitol since late 2001, none drew as much press as "Breasts Not Bombs," for which two women stripped to the waist at the west entrance to the Capitol to protest the U.S. war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shortly after this photo was taken, both were led away by CHP officers. Sometimes it is best to stand away from the media scrum, to be the counterpoint. I could have shot this from the front, focusing on shoulders up, but the earnest expressions of the journalists seemed to capture the impact of the protest best.
November 7, 2005

UNDERDOG --- What does it feel like to stand on the other side, to be the clerk who has to deal with the filing papers - and the press corps - as gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides delivers his paperwork. I wanted to put myself in the position of that clerk. This view enhances the reality of the moment. You are the clerk. You can see the candidate, the candidate's wife and the media. It is a view the public rarely gets to experience.
February 14, 2006

MOURNING CUTS --- Even on the slowest of news days, I could almost always count on at least one protest on the Capitol grounds. On this cold day, I watched for almost 15 minutes as sign-carrying protesters filed by me on L Street, then onto the grounds. I had only shot a couple of frames when I saw this woman in black veil - the traditional mark of a widow in Mexico. Nurses were protesting a possible increase in the permissible nurse-to-patient staffing levels in hospitals. She was shouting louder than anyone else and suddenly raised her fist defiantly and I raised my camera above my head. The message was clear and dramatic: fewer nurses would imperil patients. This remains one of my favorite protest photos.
January 18, 2005

THE BIG FOUR --- There is no event too small for a press release or a media statement - except for the annual formal photo of the Legislature and the constitutional officers. Typically, I would not hear about it until days later. This time, someone broke the code of silence and invited the media. What we found was what you find at any large group portrait: lots of camping it up by some (Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, Gov. Schwarzenegger, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi) but not by others (senate
President pro tem Don Perata).
June 13, 2006

THE MEETING --- In Sacramento, relationships are everything and, sometimes, they endure. As former Assembly speaker and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made the rounds, pushing a bill, he ran into his successor, Speaker Fabian Núñez, right a Democrat, and Assemblyman Mark Wyland, a Republican.
June 19, 2006

Former Speaker of the Assembly Antonio Villaraigosa, now mayor of Los Angeles, was in town to push a new agenda: he wanted more control over the LA School District. I shadowed him for three days, hoping to capture more than the run-of-the-mill speeches. While outwardly confident he could get the bill, privately he seemed unsure. Even though he was surrounded by aides and friends, I managed to slip into an elevator as he took a call to capture a more pensive moment.
June 19, 2006

THE VOTE --- Reputation and future potential can rise and fall in a single vote. Even when they don't it can feel that way to opposing parties. As the votes were counted for Villaraigosa's bill, I pushed my camera close to two LAUSD officials, who opposed the bill, with Villaraigosa, top right, and Speaker Fabian Núñez, top left, who were pushing for its passage in the background. All of them were so intent on listening to the one-by-one voice vote, no one even noticed I was even there. The bill passed that day only to be largely overturned later by a judge.
August 29, 2006

TOUR OF CALIFORNIA --- Bits of asphalt ricocheted off my cheeks, forehead and knuckles. I jammed the camera against my face, using it as protection for both of my eyes. Someone even stepped on my back as a lay prone at the corner of 11th and N Streets. The only way to get the Capitol dome in perfect position with the riders whizzing by during the Sacramento stage of Amgen Tour of California was to lie in the street. The goal was to situate the race clearly in the state's Capitol. Mission accomplished. February 20, 2007

GRANDPA --- John Garamendi decided that the noisy hotel ballroom of the Democratic election night party was not the best place to take a congratulatory cellphone call on his victory as the state's new lieutenant governor. Instead, he took the call out in the hallway, holding his grandson close. This seemed a perfect visual intersection between Garamendis personal and political life.
November 7, 2006.

PLEDGE --- As I watched the 40 senators pledge allegiance to the flag, I noticed these two young boys who in 30 years could be standing in the same spot, doing the same thing, wearing the same suits. They are Aidan Garamendi, 4, left and Ben Garamendi-Hesser, 4, right, grandsons of John Garamendi, there to watch their grandfather be sworn in as lieutenant governor.
January 7, 2007

The best politicians know how to seize the moment, how to leave an indelible mark. Karen Bass put her unique stamp on an historic event, when she became not only the newest Speaker of the Assembly, but the first African-American woman to hold the office. She didn't need a spotlight as she strode on to the Assembly floor, eschewing the dark suits favored by her predecessors.
May 13, 2008.

HALLWAY OF POWER --- Having worked in the Capitol for 10 years, I thought I know every inch of the building. When Senate President Darrell Steinberg stopped outside the main entrance to the Senate floor to talk about water issues, I opted for a low angle to emphasize his key role in the uphill battle, dropping to my knees. It was only then that my eyes caught a bright spot in the corner I had never noticed before: the illuminated seal of the State of California, which seemed to watch over the impromptu press conference. September 1, 2009

Susan Kennedy, Gov. Schwarzenegger's chief of staff, has been described as tough, savvy, influential, mythical, legendary, but on this day she was relaxed and contemplative, talking calmly to an aide in the famous smoking tent put up in an interior courtyard by her boss.
October 21, 2009.

THE SPEAKER --- Political photography is a lot about depicting relationships. Who is the person in power, who is the second-most powerful and so on. Here, there was no question. Nancy Pelosi was pretty much assured of re-election and of becoming Speaker of the House and I wanted to make her status clear in my photograph. She was stumping for candidate Phil Angelides and her appearance at a phone bank was a boost for the underdog candidate.
October 18, 2006.