Trump tried to take profits from book of photos published by White House photographer

WION Web Team
NEW DELHIUpdated: Apr 01, 2022, 12:35 PM IST

Former US President Donald Trump Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

The book, which costs up to $230 a copy, sold out in its first 300,000 copies, generating a $20 million profit.

According to the New York Times, former US President Donald Trump hijacked White House staff photographer Shealah Craighead's book agreement by taking her photos and releasing them in his own book.

"Our Journey Together," which was published in December, makes Trump the first former president to try to benefit from a planned book by a White House photographer.

The official White House photographer has published a book of their most significant photos of the president under whom they served since Ronald Reagan.

According to the story, Craighead had already secured a publishing contract – including a six-figure advance – when she informed the White House about the book.

As is customary for presidents, Trump agreed to write the foreword. 

However, her strategy began to unravel when Trump's advisors demanded a cut of the revenues for the forward and assistance in promoting the book.

Later, his team requested her to postpone the book's release so that Trump could publish his own book based on Craighead's and other White House photographers' work, for which he received a multimillion-dollar advance.

The book, which costs up to $230 a copy, sold out in its first 300,000 copies, generating a $20 million profit.

It's for sale on the Winning Team Publishing website, which Donald Trump Jr. and Republican campaign operative Sergio Gor co-founded.

"President Trump has always had an eye for beautiful and engaging curation, which came alive through the pages of his book," said Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich in a statement to the Times.

Insiders told the New York Times that Trump frequently disparaged Craighead and her photographic talents in front of visitors and other photographers.

None of the photographers featured in the 317-page book are given credit, including Craighead, whose work accounts for a significant percentage.

The acknowledgements on the last page include their names.

Trump's acts have been labelled as "shameful" and a "slap in the face" by White House insiders and photographers, but they aren't illegal.

Photographs shot by White House staff photographers during a president's tenure are in the public domain and not subject to copyright, according to federal law. 

Craighead, who worked as a White House photographer during George W. Bush's presidency, told the New York Times that her own book had been put on hold indefinitely.

"As a neutral historical documentarian, I try to stay as apolitical as possible," she told the New York Times.

"I am able to maintain a keen observer by being impartial."

Trump came out to Craighead after his crew was interviewed for the Times report and promised to collaborate on another book in the future.

He assured her that he would be willing to write the forward this time. 

(With inputs from agencies)