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  • Johanna Siegmann

Mia and the Congressman

Mia distracts Congressman Adam Schiff.

Through a confluence of happy coincidences, Congressman Adam Schiff - chairman of the House Intelligence Committee - agreed to a photo shoot with me. That was the easiest part of this session. You'd think we were planning the invasion of Normandy with the scheduling and logistics. But his amazing staff took my project with as much seriousness as any legislation his office was working on, and we managed to set it up. I flew to DC, met up with my gifted assistant, Bella Carolina (who also drove me around), rented the lighting equipment from f8 rentals - located in the Press Building - and headed out to Adam's home.

We were met there by his wife, Eve - yes, really, Adam's wife is Eve - who very helpfully supplemented our tennis ball stash, and introduced us to precious Mia. The stage was set. Tennis balls everywhere (because Mia absolutely adores them). She was as happy as a puppy, despite being 12.5 years old. Such an abundance of them was clearly a novelty, and she'd pick up and drop one ball after another. Then she'd amble through the balls, kicking them all over the place, and sending me and my assistant on search and recover missions, even as she'd offer us the one in her mouth. My one hope was that upon seeing my setup, Adam would be amused.

Ironically, Adam was traveling back to DC from a trip to L.A., where I had just come from. He arrived shortly after we'd completed the setup, and I was thrilled that the tennis balls got my hoped-for chuckle out of him. After a brief introduction, he went upstairs to got ready for our session. Such a trooper - despite having just flown 5 hours and arriving with a cold.

I would love to report that this was the simplest, easiest shoot I've ever had. But challenges abounded. For one, Mia is mostly deaf, so my usual way of directing critters was unavailable to me. She was also totally winded from all the playtime she had during the setup, so her attention to the novelty of all the balls was dulled. And we were having a very hard time getting her to go into the position I'd envisioned, offering a ball to Adam. I realized that this might have to be a composite, and took several photos of just Adam for that possibility.

Adding to all this was a lighting glitch - even though the heads were firing perfectly during the set up (of course); however, once we added our subjects, the lights started misfiring, and the lighting I'd envisioned simply failed to ever manifest.

But this shoot proved several things to me: that I can get my shot regardless of the challenges; that I can manifest any image I envision; and that members of Congress - or at least Adam - have superhuman levels of energy. Though Mia, my assistant, and I were all tuckered, Adam was ready to keep going until we got the shot.

As it turned out, I did get it all in one shot.


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Jeb Boyd
Jeb Boyd
Dec 10, 2019

How cool is that??? He's one of my heroes, especially right now, and to see him work with you just helps to make him human and make him more real. Thanks, Johanna, and as usual, nicely done!


Your Bud Bob
Dec 10, 2019

Outstanding, and it proves that you are an Internationally known Photographer. Brava.

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