Paul Morse – Finding Balance

It can often take some time for history to judge a presidency, but for the past 50 years White House photographers have been documenting the daily life of our nation’s chief executives.  Their images serve as a lasting and important part of the record history ultimately writes.

Paul Morse served as Deputy Director of Photography at the White House from 2001 through 2006.  After graduating from California State University Long Beach, Paul worked as a staff photographer for the Pasadena Star-News and then for six years for the Los Angeles Times, before he went to Washington.

Almost six years after going to DC to help a friend with the first inauguration of George W. Bush, Paul decided he needed some balance in his life.  Now, after another six years have passed, we asked Paul if he’s found what he was looking for?

I think I have achieved a more balanced life.  While it was an amazing experience, it was all-consuming. I would rarely have more than 2 or 3 days off in a month during the busiest of times. Now I shoot weddings on the weekends and spend the other days playing with our dogs, seeing friends or working out.

But life as a commercial and wedding photographer can mean a lot of travel, especially when you live in New Orleans and your clients are all over the map.

It’s true I travel quite a bit, but I love shooting in new places and cities. That was one of the things I loved about my time at the White House.

Paul moved to New Orleans in 2011 with his fiancé so she could attend business school at Tulane University.  They met at the White House and are to be married New Years eve in New Orleans.  But Paul says he still gets back to DC often enough.

Since I get booked so far out – sometimes a year or more before the wedding day – flying back to DC is just part of doing business.  Building relationships in DC has taken time, and it would be foolish to leave that market. I have traveling there down to an art!

Despite having an enviable resume, Paul describes professional photography as “really competitive”.  He works hard to grow his business.

New business comes from networking and building relationships. Strong images are important, but being reliable and nice should not be underestimated.  Most of my clients are from referrals, so each job I shoot could possibly bring more work. Working hard on each job is the best advice I can offer.

And it sounds like Paul takes the time to make sure he earns his referrals, saying it’s the little things that make a big difference.

Showing appreciation to clients after a job goes a long way too. Taking a moment to send a small gift or hand written note on personalized stationary makes a big impression on people.

As important as these things are for growing the business, it is easy to see that Paul is still a photographer at heart.

Shooting can be really exhausting because it’s so fun! I put everything into the day because I love capturing moments and getting emotional responses from my clients. Working gets me out the door and into the world.

So it does indeed look like Paul has found the balance he said he was looking for when he left the White House in 2007.  And how does he feel moving from DC?

I have fallen in love with New Orleans and its people so shooting for myself here is a blast. The city is so colorful, alive and timeless. The parades are the best!


Paul has been a PWD client since November 2011.  We didn’t ask him to comment on that as part of this article, but he did anyway.  We couldn’t help but share it.

In an unsolicited plug, I rely on PWD to give me even more balance after shooting. They ease my burden of pleasing my clients since I know I can deliver images quicker than I promise.

Thank you, Paul!

Check out Paul’s web sites at www.paulmorsephotographs.com and www.paulmorse.com.

For more information on Paul’s years as Deputy Director of Photography at the White House, see the following:

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