Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Jeff Raikes for the Omaha-World Herald | Seattle editorial photographer
I photographed Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Jeff Raikes for the Omaha World-Herald last month, for a story on the organization’s efforts worldwide to eradicate diseases and improve childhood education. Raikes, originally from Nebraska, still is connected to the area through billionaire Warren Buffett. The so-called Oracla of Omaha recently donated $2 billion to the foundation, and has agreed to donate the majority of his worth to the foundation over the next 50 years. I was asked to make portraits that showed Raikes’ personality and make architectural images of the foundation’s downtown Seattle offices. It would be a plus if I could also get shots of any memorabilia in his office that showed off his University of Nebraska roots. This was a challenging assignment since the editor and reporter were unsure if I would have any one-on-one time with Jeff.
I am used to working quickly and efficiently for portraits so I indicated that if I could just get five minutes for a portrait, that would be sufficient. His staff agreed and my assistant and I hurriedly set up on the top floor of the gorgeous building overlooking the city. I walked through a quick game plan after having zero time to scout the building beforehand due to security: I decided I would shoot something close up at a short distance, then move for a telephoto image going down the hall, then jog to the other side of the boomerang-shaped building and photograph Jeff looking through the glass. This provided my editor multiple options in just a few minutes.
Raikes was easy to work with and even poked fun at me when I asked him to turn this way or that. My assistant kept track of the time, calling out three minutes, and one minute, so we knew we weren’t going over into the time meant for the interview. Satisfied with the portraits, I asked to photograph the first couple minutes of the interview, and his staff agreed. I was able to make interesting detail shots and I liked how relaxed he appeared sitting in his office.
Walking out of the building to my car, I looked up and the Space Needle caught my eye. I thought I could probably get a cool overall of the building from the observation deck, and show how the Foundation anchors the Queen Anne/South Lake Union neighborhood. $19 later and I was up nearly 600 feet in the air, and as the stormy wind whipped around, I held my camera up above my head to see past the guard wires. It worked out great, and was an interesting way to finish off a thrilling assignment. The story received great play in print and can be seen below.
Photos of Jeff Raikes are available for license in my archive
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