There’s a position in Nevada state government called the “state photographer.” Its occupant usually documents state highway projects for legal reasons, but there is another duty—taking photos of official ceremonies and events, such as photos for the state treasurer’s annual report or for the Nevada Commission on Ethics website. Some notable Nevada photographers such as John Nulty have held the job. We caught up with current state photographer Julie Duewel at a bill signing in the governor’s office. She is believed to be the first woman state photographer. Last year, she received first prize ($1,000) in a competition among official state photographers.
How did you end up in this job?
I have to say it was just a God thing. I got an email from one of my personal clients, because I have my own little business, and they emailed me the link when Rich Johnson retired, and I applied for the job and was able to get it, so I’m very fortunate.
Did you know what a legacy there was, how far this went back?
You know, I really didn’t, until I have to say almost the first day I started my job, I went down [to] the office, and I noticed that there was huge file cabinets filled with negatives that date back to probably 19—I want to say 1927, around there. Just a historical plethora of pictures, and it’s just amazing. And so I go through and scan them when I can, and just—I am really very much into history so I love that.
What do you do when you’re not taking pictures of politicians?
I do a lot for the Department of Transportation, so I’m documenting all of our projects that we’re doing, highway projects and things like that. …
Were you a photographer before you joined the state?
Yes, I have my own personal business. I do weddings and senior-in-high-school portraits and things like that. You know, some landscape stuff, but mostly portraits.
Are you ever uncomfortable or awed by some of the ceremonies you have to shoot?
You know, at first I think I was very intimidated, because you really don’t have two shots to—if you get it, you get it, if you don’t, you don’t. But now I’m kind of moving into it. I feel a lot more comfortable and Gov. Sandoval is very gracious and very nice to do pictures for.
What’s it like to position big shots—“Move over there; no, move over there”?
Usually, I just do it with a nice smile on my face and say, “Excuse me, can you move to the right? Can you move to the left?”
Is there a favorite picture you’ve taken so far?
I have to say, the funnest picture that I’ve taken so far is we set up a backdrop and did Gov. Sandoval’s official portrait in his office. … It was just really fun. He’s very much of a history [buff] so we placed books in certain areas and things like that. So that was really fun.
OK, well, let’s go take your picture in front of that one.
Oh, good gracious.