“If you want to know what someone fears losing, look at what they photograph.” -Unknown
Josh himself is no good with taking pictures. Every picture he takes ends up blurry, or too dark, or too bright. But still, he carries a camera. Since Roslynn, he’s taken to photography even more, and if he’s being honest, he doesn’t mind that the photos aren’t top quality. He takes pictures of everything that he realizes he might have missed- the sunsets, the flowers, the bird and the buildings. But he rarely prints those. No, the ones he prints are the ones that are too blurry to fully make out, the ones where he was laughing too hard to hold the camera steady. His favorite photos are in frames on his desk- a blurry mess of blonde hair and alabaster skin on a beach in Hawaii. A photo, half blocked by a member of the press, of CJ addressing the nation. A shaky, unfocused picture of him and Sam the day he left for California. And a picture, the best one he’s taken, though it’s still kind of blurry, of Leo behind a podium at one of their campaign stops. He has more, of the rest of his friends, but those are his favorites.
Toby isn’t a fan of pictures so much. He doesn’t have many, but the ones he does have are some of the most important to him. He’s only taken his own picture once, and he keeps it on his desk all the time: Huck, Molly, and Andy in the hospital. It’s a little shaky, but it’s better than Josh’s pictures, and Toby constantly holds that over his head. Sometimes, he feels the need to put a post-it note over Andy’s face, because that’s not something he wants to deal with, but he keeps the photo on his desk until the day he leaves the White House. He has a few pictures at home, mostly all in boxes or tucked into binders, but the two he keeps out, he studies every day. The first is a picture of him and CJ, before the Bartlet campaign, taken at a party they were both at. CJ’s face is bright, and their arms are wrapped around each other. He can’t remember why. The other photo is a professional one, taken of the whole Bartlet staff when Jed was first elected. Toby takes it down for almost a month after he is fired, but it’s back up as soon as he finds out about the pardon.
CJ has pictures all over her apartment, of various things. Some of them, she hardly pays attention to, but she has a photo book that she looks through almost once a month. It holds some of her favorite pictures- there’s one of her behind a podium because, although she’d never go back, she wouldn’t trade those years for anything; and there’s one that someone from the press managed to take, of Danny giving her the goldfish earrings. One of them is of her, that Toby either took or found, and drew a mustache on her face. And there’s one of Danny, the professional photo that had gone on his White House press pass. Maybe she has better ones somewhere, but that’s where they met and that’s what she keeps. As with everyone else, CJ has many pictures of the Bartlet staff, but her favorite is one with the girls- CJ, Donna, Margaret, Bonnie, Carol, and Ginger. She has one of Jed and Abbey from one of the inauguration balls, though she can’t remember which, and one of Josh, not long after the Roslynn shooting. Her all-time favorite, though, is one Toby sent her after she moved to California, of the two of them at her house before the first Bartlet campaign. There’s nothing special about the photo, but there’s a note on the back that simply reads “Thank you.” She pins that one to the wall.
Donna has a million pictures framed on the walls of her office. There are pictures of her dog, the one that she and Josh adopted together; there are pictures of Bartlet’s inaugural balls, as well as Santos’s; there are pictures of Hawaii, and a couple of the photos from Colin in Gaza. There’s a picture of her and Helen, and another of her and Matthew, and a couple of the whole administration. Donna’s pictures are the nicest-looking of everyone’s- she has a bit of skill with a camera, something she developed when she was younger, and she has a way of getting the angles just right so that everyone looks good, but even so, most of the photos on the walls are professionally taken. It’s the ones on her desk that aren’t. There are four of them: the first is of Josh in Hawaii, sleeping and becoming very sunburnt on a towel. She took that photo right before she woke him up. There’s another, one that she took of CJ, Toby, Leo, Josh, Sam, Abbey, Jed, and the rest of the Bartlet staff on the night of the inauguration balls the first time around. The third is a photo from when she was younger, of her grandparents. It was the first picture she’d ever printed, and she’d given it to her grandma. When she passed, Donna’s cousin found it and mailed it to her. It’s been on her desk ever since. The final photo is a little bit shakier than the rest. It was taken by Donna of herself, so the focus isn’t perfect, but it’s still her favorite photo. It shows Josh and Donna kissing in front of a Christmas tree, with Donna’s new diamond ring glittering on the her hand. No matter how bad of a day she is having, that photo can always make her smile.
Sam isn’t much of a picture man. In fact, he only has three photos, and he keeps them all framed and hung on the wall behind his desk. He doesn’t look at them often, but he knows that they’re there and even the thought of them makes him smile. The first one, hung all the way to the left, is a photo of himself and the ex-president. Sam can’t remember what was going on that day, or who had a camera- in fact, the photo was left for him on his desk, before he left for California. The two of them were laughing at something, and it reminded Sam of old photos with his father. The second photo, hung all the way to the right, was taken by a stranger that Sam had paid twenty dollars to take just the one photo. It’s a little faded, but Sam keeps it up anyway. It’s a photo of Josh and himself when they joined the Bartlet campaign. They were both grinning, trying to keep from laughing, and holding up their newly printed ID cards. Sometimes Sam wonders how those two boys ended up here. The final picture is a little bit bigger than the rest, and it came as a little bit of a surprise to Josh when he originally found it in Sam’s office. It shows a young woman, petite, blonde, and with one arm wrapped around Sam’s waist. The other was waving at the camera, showing off what was undoubtedly an engagement ring. And Sam’s head rested on top of hers, a small smile decorating his face as he gazed down at Ainsley.
Charlie carries his photos in his wallet. He wants to be able to look at them anytime, because the photos are only of the most important people, or moments, in his life. The first photo is old, it’s a little rumpled, and there’s a corner that’s torn off, but you can still see the smiles on the faces of his mom and his sister. If you asked him, Charlie would admit that that is one of the three most important things he owns- the other two being a carving knife and a pocket Constitution. The next photo is something he considers to be somewhat of a continuation of the first- it’s a photo of himself and Jed Bartlet. The man’s like a father to him, and Charlie is proud to say that Jed sees him as a son, but the photo still makes him tear up sometimes. Throughout the wallet, there are plenty of pictures of the people who adopted him into their families- there’s a picture of Donna that’s he’s pretty sure Danny took, on the night of Bartlet’s re-election inaugural balls; one of Josh, after one of their late-night games of basketball; one of CJ, laughing at something behind her desk. There’s one of Will, and one of Toby, and a few more tucked behind others that he pulls out quite often. But the one he looks at the most, the one he shows off the most, is a photo of Zoey Bartlet- soon to be Zoey Young. It’s a picture he managed to take, without her knowing, of her making pancakes one morning, and he often describes it as a picture of his world.
Jed Bartlet has always kept photos around. When he sat in the Oval Office, he had three photos on his desk, all of his family, and plenty more in the Residence. When he moved back to Manchester, the number of photos he hung in his office nearly doubled. All over were pictures of Abigail. Not all of them were the most flattering- Jed himself was fairly clumsy with a camera- but Jed kept every photo he took in his office- on the walls, in frames, in albums. There were also numerous photos around the house of his daughters- Zoey riding horses and going to dances, Ellie at her wedding and in her doctor's scrubs, Liz at graduation and hanging out with friends. There were pictures of them from the time they were born until the time they stopped letting their dad take photos of them- so, Liz's photos stopped after high school, Ellie's after her wedding, and new photos of Zoey were put up nearly every week. Of course, there are family photos, too- at the inaugural balls, at picnics, at Liz and Ellie's weddings, at Dinseyworld, and everywhere in between. But his family- at least, his blood family- doesn't make up the whole collection. Scattered throughout his office were photos of Huck and Molly Ziegler, who often called him Grandpa Jed; snapshots of Josh and Donna, and of their dog; sunny pictures of CJ, Danny, and their little baby; many, many photos of Charlie were spread through his collection, too, from his graduation to the day he proposed to Zoey. There were photos of Leo, too- an entire photo album dedicated to him, with pictures from college, from their weddings, and their time in office. He has pictures of Will and Kate Bailey, and even a few from Annabeth Schott, but not as many; he does, however, keep newspaper articles about them. There are a few scattered photos of his mother, and a few of his brother, but there are none of his father. These are pinned and hung and pasted everywhere, but only one frame sits on his desk, and it isn't a photo. It's a napkin, one that Jed has had for years now, and that means more to him than many of the photos, with three words scribbled on it:
Bartlet for America.