Monday, June 22, 2015

Photographer's perspective: The unlikely origin of a 2010 Rachel Dolezal photo

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 3:43 PM

click to enlarge Rachel Dolezal in 2010 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Rachel Dolezal in 2010 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

I was working on a story about the closing of Parkside Bistro and Pub on May 7, 2010. The Coeur d’Alene restaurant was slated to be closed and demolished to make way for a park extension. I took a few photographs of then owner Kevin Eskelin inside the restaurant before stepping outside for a few more photos.

Rachel Dolezal came by and engaged in conversation with Eskelin, who was an acquaintance. The restaurant was near the Human Rights Education Institute, where Dolezal worked. As the two spoke I snapped a few photos of her, knowing that the photos wouldn’t be used for the story about the restaurant closure.

Why take the photo? Dolezal was already somewhat of a public figure in the Inland Northwest because of her outspoken work at the Human Rights Education Institute and the apparent discovery of a noose on her front porch.

As photojournalists, we often take photos of public figures when we work on stories, even if they aren’t part of the story we are working on at the time. They might be at an event we cover or are present when we are working on a story about something else. Those typically photographed for archive use are politicians, business leaders, and community leaders and activists. They are called archive photos, that can be used in later stories if necessary. Due to deadlines and accessibility, public figures may not be available for a photo when a story includes them. So we generally take a photo of a public figure when they are available.

After years of collecting virtual dust on an Inlander server, the photo was found and included in a cover section profile of Dolezal.
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