‘I shoot how it feels’: Oakland’s Sarahbeth Maney in her iconic family photo of Ketanji Brown Jackson

The photo was instantly iconic: Supreme Court nominee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson sits at her confirmation hearing, smiling broadly. Her husband, Patrick Jackson, is seated behind her.

But the camera focuses on the next person him: Jackson’s daughter, Leila Jackson, looking at her mother with a smile and look of intense admiration and pride.

Patrick Jackson, left, husband of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, center, and daughter Leila Jackson, right, listen to the first day of Jackson’s confirmation hearings at the Hart Senator Office Building in Washington, DC, on Monday, March 21, 2022. (Courtesy of Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times)

The photographer who captured this image – who quickly traveled the world – is Oakland’s own Sarahbeth Maney, a photography associate at the New York Times bureau in Washington, DC. If her name and talent are familiar to you, you may have seen her in KQED Arts and Culture’s 2021 story on the Black Women Photographers Network.

KQED’s Tara Siler spoke with Maney about the logistics of capturing the scene, the weight of covering Jackson’s confirmation hearings, and traveling from the Bay Area to Washington, D.C. coverage

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

When the photo was taken

I was away from the room and stood at the top of the steps or looked over the wall, and had a very good view of the front row and the people, family members sitting in the first rank. And all the while, there were senators making comments to Judge Jackson and mostly comments of praise and admiration for her.

I immediately looked over to her daughter, who was sitting behind her, and noticed that expression. And it was just pure admiration for his mother – and excitement. And it really made me feel a sense of pride to be in the room and to share this moment as well, as a black woman.

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