Interview

Interviewer: You've photographed 21 Kennedy weddings. How did this association come about?

The Kennedy-Bessette wedding
Denis Reggie: My parents were involved in politics and they really had a kind of basic handshake friendship with the Kennedys throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Fast forward to 1979 when Ethel Video ClipKennedy came to Louisiana and at my father's suggestion I took some pictures of her in town campaigning. While I was there, she was traveling with her daughter, who had a brand new engagement ring. And I had a chance to chat with her daughter and I said, my area is really wedding photography. She said: "Well, that's neat. We haven't hired a photographer and tell me a little about what you do." So I told her: " I said, to be honest with you, I sort of base my whole photography on the way I saw your family, the Kennedy family, in Life and in Look magazine. Spontaneous, on the beach, barefooted! Windblown hair, playing touch football, not intimidated, nor posing for the camera, just being themselves." She was taken with that and she goes: " well you have to come up for my wedding this Summer. I photographed my first wedding for that family on my 25th birthday on June 14, 1980 and I've done a Kennedy wedding almost every year since.

Interviewer: What is the most famous Kennedy wedding you have photographed?

Denis Reggie: A bittersweet moment is the wedding of John Kennedy, Jr and his lovely bride Caroline Bessette. He called me a few months before the wedding and at the time he said only a handful of people knew about it. He asked me if I could keep a secret? Of course he knew that I would Video Clipand I did. I flew down to the wedding in September 1996. They asked me to release just one picture of the wedding that I thought told the story, only one and it was to be my choice. There was a special energy about the moment. It's one that I actually had to take in silhouette because it was a very dark island, no electricity for miles and there were candlelight's only. I am focusing on her silhouette and I noticed that John had reached for her hand to bring her hand to his lips and I thought: " gosh what a wonderful moment". And I'm thinking in slow motion, although they were moving pretty quickly and I was able to get that one picture off with my Hasselblad and it was a moment for me that said it all. It's one that that was later to be used on over a thousand covers of magazines and newspapers and it was a great honor. Of course it was a bittersweet as well because of their tragic demise three years later and that moment will always be a happy moment.

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