As Leahy retires, Capitol will lose its unofficial photographer – Roll Call

As Patrick J. Leahy goes about his day on Capitol Hill, he often brings a guest — a camera, either tucked into his pocket or hanging from a strap.
When the Senate loses its current longest-serving member to retirement next term, it will also lose one of its most enthusiastic chroniclers. Leahy has taken pictures everywhere, from the busy tunnels of the Senate subway to private meetings with dignitaries. Through 12 inaugurations, his lens has become a force, scoring access to private moments.
Born blind in one eye, the self-taught photographer likes to joke that it’s a good thing his hobby requires only one. The Vermont Democrat has captured thousands of images over his nearly 50 years on the Hill, even using the dais of his committee rooms as a perch. 
When Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich came to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2000 to rail against file sharing service Napster, Leahy was in the ranking member’s seat. But he also seized the moment to take out his Nikon, one of more than a dozen cameras in his collection, to get a shot of the heavy metal icon sitting at the witness table.
He likes to turn the tables on the press corps too, pointing his camera at the scrum of journalists who follow him around. “He loved to talk with us and ask us about our gear,” says CQ Roll Call photojournalist Tom Williams. If Leahy doesn’t have his camera on him, he might “mess with” the press by lifting his hands in the air and clicking an imaginary shutter.
Leahy has always had the upper hand when it comes to access. During inauguration ceremonies at the Capitol, he mingled in the crowd of invited guests, his camera inches from John Kerry’s disappointed face in 2005, or former President Barack Obama’s relieved one in 2021.
“His seat was way better than mine,” Williams says.