A Hilarious Story About Photographing the President of the United States

Monte Isom is a super successful commercial photographer based out of New York City. However, before he made a career of his own, he assisted some of the biggest names in the photography world. In this video he recaps his experience shooting the president of the United States of America.

Back in 2001, a young and ambitious Monte Isom was finally ready to venture out on his own and become 100% self sufficient as a full-time freelance photographer. After years of assisting some of the biggest names in photography including Sandro Miller, Albert Watson, Peter Lindbergh, Timothy White, and Martin Schoeller, Monte was ready to take on the cutthroat world of advertising and commercial photography. However, all of Monte's dreams came to a screeching halt when the horrible events unfolded in New York City on Sept 11th. As the US economy came tumbling down, the jobs and opportunities as a working photographer were looking as dismal as ever. 

Always one to take on a challenge, Monte hustled harder than ever and found himself as the main assistant to one of the most acclaimed photographers of our generation: Gregory Heisler. For the next year, Monte found himself helping Greg photograph several Time Magazine covers showcasing icons like Bruce Springsteen, NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, and dozens of other high profile celebrities and athletes (click the links to watch videos on those photo shoots). As epic and amazing as these photo sessions were for Monte, it was a trip to the United State's White House that would forever change his career path.

Monte Isom assists photographer Gregory Heisler

In the above video, Monte reflects back on what it was like assisting Gregory Heisler as they photographed United States President George W. Bush for a cover story on the one year anniversary of 9/11. The USA Today article required a handful of images depicting the life and times of the sitting president as he dealt with the tragedies of the largest terrorist attack on US soil. Throughout the photo shoot, Monte recalls his interactions with both Greg and George W. Bush through the eyes of a photo assistant. Not only are the stories filled with humor, but Monte also expresses the seriousness of being the right hand man of a professional photographer on such a prestigious shoot. 

If you've ever had the pleasure of hearing Gregory Heisler speak, his recollection of this story is pretty hilarious too. I highly recommend Gregory Heisler's photography book 50 Portraits where he discusses this specific shoot in detail along with 49 other classic images from his career. I can't recommend it enough, and it's one of those books you can appreciate regardless if you are a casual fan of photography or someone looking to perfect your craft. 

If you enjoyed this episode of Story Time With Monte, be sure to check out all the videos from this series on our Youtube Playlist and subscribe to our Youtube Channel for even more photography related videos. If you are an aspiring commercial and editorial photographer who wants to learn all the secrets to making the most money possible, check out Monte Isom's Making Real Money Tutorial where he shares everything he has learned about the business of photography. You can can check out the trailer for this educational series below. 

Bonus: As a reader of Fstoppers, use the discount code "save10fs" to save 10% off the purchase of this full video tutorial.


Patrick Hall's picture

Patrick Hall is a founder of Fstoppers.com and a photographer based out of Charleston, South Carolina.

Log in or register to post comments

My coffee went through my nose when I read "100% self sufficient as a full-time freelance photographer" ;-P

Does it sound redundant? I was thinking people can be 100% self sufficient as a cook, investor, doctor, part time nanny. I just meant he makes all his money working at photography full time.

Hey! Drinking some Utah High West Whiskey. Keep it up boys!

Oh I enjoyed the story and video as well.. keep that up too!

Yeah, it's pretty great stuff. Just bought another bottle for a friend's 40th birthday. Hope to crack it open tonight :)

Don't forget to try some of the great products from 'Dented Brick Distillery' in Salt Lake City :)

Great story and he's a great storyteller!

That is an absolutely amazing image of President Bush.

I was there and Monte's version of events is mostly spot on. During the group photo the president just kept saying "We need to get Monte in here!" Seriously.

Wow, that's pretty awesome this showed up here. Small world...which one is you?