Local photographer Bill Luster recalls access to 8 US presidents - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Local photographer Bill Luster recalls access to 8 US presidents

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Fellow lawmakers, staff and secret service members are not the only ones who see U.S. presidents behind closed doors.

"The first one I photographed was Lyndon Johnson," Bill Luster said Friday.

A retired photographer, Luster has shaken hands with eight U.S. presidents.

"And after that, I photographed Nixon. After Gerald Ford, I did Jimmy Carter."

From the Oval Office to Air Force One, Luster has captured candid images of all but one commander in chief since Lyndon Johnson.

"I've been on Air Force One twice," he said. "I worked at The Courier-Journal for 42-and-a-half years."

In all those years on the job, Luster has easily snapped thousands of pictures or more.

"I would almost say a million."

Many of the images are saved on his hard drive, and they include everyone from the Dalai Lama to the greatest, Muhammad Ali.

"This always been a favorite of mine," Luster said, pointing to a photograph. "Ali in Louisville Gardens."

The only pictures not saved on his computer are the ones hanging on his walls.

"This is with Reagan in the cabinet room."

Along with them are several awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes.

But Luster doesn't just collect pictures. Along the road came some funny stories, like when he was granted exclusive access to former President Barack Obama.

"I'm not paying attention and (ran into) him," Luster said. "And he kind of chuckles and says, 'Don't worry about that. It happens to me every day, somebody runs into me.'"

Luster also shared one of his favorite photos, which was a shot of Obama.

It's a picture of President Obama leaning against a desk with his arms folded across his chest.

"He is in the green room of the White House before going into the east room to make a speech," Luster said.

After snapping so many shots of important people, you could say Luster has become somewhat of a big shot himself.

"I always kid him and say, make sure your head fits through the door when you come in," said Linda Luster, Bill's wife of 40 years.

That's why Linda makes sure rubbing elbows with all of those powerful men doesn't go to her husband's head.

"Absolutely. Oh, she's on me all the time," Bill Luster said. 

And she also makes sure the Kentucky Hall of Fame Photographer remembers the little things.

"I do have to remind him to take out the garbage," Linda said with a smile.

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