Yoichi Okamoto

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Yoichi Okamoto
Yoichi Okamoto.jpg
Okamoto photographing himself in the mirror at the L.B.J. Ranch in Stonewall, Tex. Jan. 2, 1964.
Chief Official White House Photographer
In office
PresidentLyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byCecil W. Stoughton
Succeeded byOliver F. Atkins
Personal details
Yoichi R. Okamoto

(1915-07-05)July 5, 1915
Yonkers, New York, U.S.
DiedApril 24, 1985(1985-04-24) (aged 69)
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.

Yoichi R. Okamoto (July 5, 1915 – April 24, 1985)[1] was the second official U.S. presidential photographer, serving Lyndon B. Johnson. He was fondly known as "Oke",[2] and was given unprecedented access to the Oval Office.[3] He captured images of the President of the United States, more candid than had been previously acceptable.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Okamoto was a native of Yonkers, New York.[6] His father, Chobun Yonezo Okamoto, was a wealthy exporter, book publisher and real estate businessman who came from Japan to the Unites States in 1904.[7] His mother's name was Shina. Okamoto spent three years in Japan as a child. [7]He attended Roosevelt High School and Colgate University and served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. During part of the time during World War II he was the official photographer of General Mark Clark.[8] After the war, he joined the United State Information Agency.[9]


In 1961, Okamoto was invited to accompany then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson on a trip of Berlin as his official photographer. Admiring the photography from the trip, the Vice President requested that Okamoto be used for future events. When Johnson became President, he asked Okamoto to become the official photographer for the White House, which Okamoto accepted on condition that he would have unlimited access to the President.[7]

Because of his ability to be present at almost any event, more photos of the Johnson presidency are available than from any earlier term of office. He took an estimated 675,000 photographs during the Johnson presidency. [7]The 1990 coffee table book LBJ: The White House Years[8] by Harry Middleton consists primarily of images taken by Okamoto.

After finishing as the White House official photographer, he opened a private photofinishing business called Image Inc. in Washington D.C.[10] He worked alongside his wife, Paula Okamoto.[7]


He was married to wife, Paula, and had a daughter, Karin, and a son, Philip.[8]


Okamoto committed suicide on April 24 1985, at the age of 69.[10]


  1. ^ National Archives, Picturing the Century,"[1]"
  2. ^ "Yoichi Okamoto". Google Arts & Culture. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  3. ^ PBS, The President's Photographer 50 Years in the Oval Office,"[2]"
  4. ^ Laskow, Sarah (2016-05-04). "How One Photographer Finally Convinced a President to Give Him Full Access". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  5. ^ Weiss, Haley (2019-01-21). "How White House photographers have shaped the image of the President". CNN Style. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  6. ^ Estrin, James (2013-12-10). "Photographing the White House From the Inside". Lens Blog. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  7. ^ a b c d e Oct 2018, Greg Robinson / 11. "The Man Behind the Camera: The story of Yoichi Okamoto, LBJ's Shadow". Discover Nikkei. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  8. ^ a b c Washington Post, Personalities by Chuck Conconi, March 30, 1990,"
  9. ^ Pomerantz, James (2012-03-28). "Yoichi Okamoto, Lyndon Johnson's Photographer". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  10. ^ a b "Photographer Yoichi Okamoto Dies at 69". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2019-01-21.

External links[edit]