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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 10, 2000

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. I'm sorry I can't be with you tonight, but I'm glad to join you in this way, as the members of the White House News Photographers Association celebrate your annual dinner. I extend my congratulations to this evening's award winners.

For a long time now, I've been an admirer of your work, and in more recent years I've even been a subject of it. From here on the other side of the lens, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your skill and your dedication. Each and every day, you bring the world of Washington into sharper focus for the world outside Washington. Taking on some of the toughest assignments in journalism, you turn them into images that endure, images that help define our times and the way that we will remember them far into the future.

I want to mention one family that's been making this kind of contribution for half a century now -- the McNamees. Wally McNamee was first named Photographer of the Year back when President Eisenhower was in the White House. Along the way he's been honored more than any member in the history of the Association. Wally, congratulations on tonight's award. It really has been a "lifetime of achievement."

Of course, one of the greatest honors any parent could ever receive is when a child chooses to follow in his footsteps. Tonight, Wally's son, Win, carries on a McNamee family tradition by taking first place in my favorite category of photography -- Presidential.

I want to extend my congratulations to all the photographers and cameramen who are being honored tonight, and make special mention of another very special award winner: Sharon Farmer. My first day on the job was her first day, and I've been honored to have her by my side -- literally -- ever since. I am lucky to have Sharon as a friend, and every bit as lucky to have her as my Director of White House Photography -- the first woman and the first African American ever to hold that post. Sharon Farmer is making history even as she records it.

Sharon, I thank you. We all know that with or without a camera, you're a straight shooter. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. And I'm proud to join your peers tonight in bestowing the recognition you never seek, but richly deserve.

Again, congratulations to all tonight's winners, and to the Association for your fine work and many achievements. Thank you and good night.