Sharon Farmer: The first woman and first African American to become official White House Photographer

Sharon Farmer (born June 10, 1951) is an American photographer who worked as the official White House photographer (in office: September 1998 – January 20, 2001) during the presidency of Bill Clinton.

She was the first woman and the first African American to hold this position. Farmer documented Clinton’s daily life, official trips, and historical moments, such as his impeachment trial and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

Her photographs were widely published and recognized for their candid and intimate depictions of the president and his family.

After leaving the White House, Farmer continued to work as a photographer, focusing on social issues and events in the African American community.

She has received numerous awards for her photography, including the World Press Photo Award and the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship.

Sharon Farmer photo of Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat (right), U.S. President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (left)

Other interesting facts about Sharon Farmer

Sharon Farmer was succeeded by Eric Drapper, a Los Angeles, California-born photojournalist who served from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2009.

Her predecessor was Bob McNeely, a former United States Army veteran and photojournalist who served from January 20, 1993 to September 1998.

Farmer attended Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where she obtained a degree in photography. There, she was a member of an African American sorority called Delta Sigma Theta.

She began her career as a freelance photographer before proceeding to work for the Smithsonian Institution and The Washington Post. For a time, the Washington, D.C.-born photojournalist also worked for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Farmer’s dedication and hardworking traits have been credited with paving the way for many women in photojournalism. For example, in so many ways, Farmer inspired Shealah Craighead, who went on to become the second woman to hold the Chief Official White House Photographer position. Craighead served in the Trump administration from January 20, 2017 – January 20, 2021.

Famous African American soldiers during the Civil War

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