Historic Annapolis photo almost didn't get taken

Picking the best was a challenge

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December 02, 2007|By Lloyd Fox | Lloyd Fox,Sun Photographer

It was a historic moment, but the picture on the front page of Wednesday's Sun showing President Bush smiling as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands during the Mideast summit at the Naval Academy in Annapolis was probably only minutes from not existing, at least in my camera.

The Sun was awarded a pass for me to be among a handful of photographers allowed into Memorial Hall to cover the historic event. But to pick it up I needed to get from the Navy football stadium, where I received my basic credentials to the Navy basketball arena, by 8:45 a.m. A major early morning traffic accident, layers of Secret Service checkpoints and bomb-sniffing dogs slowed my progress. I walked into the media center at 8:44 a.m., just in time to pick up my pass before the group left for the hall.

Soon, I was standing shoulder to shoulder with about a dozen still photographers on risers at the back of the hall, shooting pictures of the United Nations delegates and other dignitaries as we awaited the arrival of the president. I shot almost 1,000 digital images from the time I arrived in the hall at 9:08 a.m. until President Bush left the stage at 12:07 p.m.

When Bush, Olmert and Abbas walked onto the stage the photographers were all waiting for an anticipated group portrait that would visually define the event - "The Picture."

As the president stood perfectly between Olmert and Abbas, it was like the calm before the storm. Then, when they reached out to each other, a tide of camera clicks began to rise. The sound of the frenzy of pictures being taken was something that cannot be explained. No flashes, just a storm of clicking.

With the cameras firing away as fast as they can shoot, you just hope that your version of "The Picture" is in focus. After three or four seconds the moment was over and I started to edit the images on the back of my camera, trying to decide which best reflected the importance of the moment.

I had almost 25 pictures of the first handshake and I went back and forth among four or five, trying to decide which to transmit to the paper.

At the media center, after the event was over, I started looking at the 1,000 pictures on my laptop again. I was still struggling with my edit of the handshake pictures. I knew that there was a good chance that this picture would be the lead image on Page One of The Sun, and I wanted to make sure it would be the best.

I ended up sending 21 pictures to the paper from the entire event, but only one of the handshake. You will have to trust me that it was the best. The image is now frozen in time. It graced the paper's front page and was included in galleries of summit photos on the Web sites of newspapers across the nation.

It is not an award-winner by any means, but it now holds a place in Maryland and world history.

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