I had the distinct pleasure of working with the amazing Jane Hampton Cook while we both served in the Executive Office of the President at the White House. I worked in the photo office as a photo editor while Jane served former President George W. Bush as deputy director of Internet news services. Our offices were directly across from each other and since we are both from the deep South – Jane is from Texas and I am a Mississippi girl – it wasn’t long before we became close friends.
Jane’s experiences include writing historical articles for whitehouse.gov and now she is the media commentator, public speaker, award-winning author, and history enthusiast we all know and love today.
Jane took a few moments out of her very busy writing schedule (she is also a mother to two boys with a third on the way) to talk with our Vita Images team about her career and latest book American Phoenix – which tells the gripping story of John Quincy Adams’s “honorable exile” during the War of 1812 and the harrowing journey of his wife, Louisa, to be reunited with her family.
While working as a White House webmaster, Jane enjoyed the “creativity of putting words and pictures together”. She also realized that her skills as a graphic designer were “limited” but “I could usually write what I visualized, the sky was unlimited. I felt free and knew I was meant to do what I was doing” – becoming an author full-time.
We asked Jane about her favorite time period in history. She stated that she loved “the early days of our nation’s history” and that she “enjoyed learning about the Founding Fathers and reading letters from George Washington so [I] could write Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War. But I also loved delving into the Napoleonic era, the time of the War of 1812, to write my new book, American Phoenix.” I think it takes incredible discipline for Jane to be able to immerse herself into these time periods which inspired her to come away with these treasured pieces.
Jane said, “What I love about the portraits Jennifer took of me for the jacket of American Phoenix is how the colors of the photograph and the close-up view matched perfectly with the intimate portraits of John Quincy and Louisa Adams on the cover.”
I was thrilled Jane asked me to take her portraits for American Phoenix, which are displayed on both her personal website and the inside covers of her books. As you can see, she was beautiful to work with and easy to photograph. It was also great to catch up and have a laugh or two talking about old times at the White House.
I am always thankful to have more time to spend with Jane. I wish her great success with all of her amazing accomplishments. If you want to buy a copy of American Phoenix, as well as any of her other books, they are for sale on Amazon.
We wish you all the best, Jane!
~ Jennifer and the Vita Images Team