Words and photos by Gilmar Smith
One of Central Florida's hidden gems is the President's Hall of fame, located in Clermont, Florida. The President's Hall of Fame welcomes you with a replica of the Lincoln Memorial Statue, the Statue of Liberty, and even Mount Rushmore!
The building is filled with White House Memorabilia, replicas of the First Ladies Inauguration Gowns, The State, Dining Table, and The resolution Desk, a White House model replica, the LibertyBell, etc.
The main attraction is a 60 foot long, 20-foot wide exact replica of the White House built by John Zweifel, his wife Jan Zweifel, and their kids.
John Zweifel was given permission to build the white house replica by the Kennedy administration in 1962. Still, the Zweifel family could not take necessary measurements and photographs inside the house until 1975. Meanwhile, John researched every guide book, magazine articles, pictures and took several public tours to the White House through the years to replicate the White House's rooms.
In 1975 the Zweifels were allowed in the White House for three weekends and two weeks to do their research on the house. They worked 14 hours a day photographing, drawing, and studying every single detail, every corner, piece of furniture, flower arrangement, piece of art, and accessory in every room.
It took over 500,000 man hours to build the replica. The craftsmanship, dedication, and attention to detail are impressive. The Zweifel family hand craved exact copies of the White House furniture, and details such as electrical outlets, mantels, moldings, painting, rugs, wallpapers, etc.
John Zweifel took its creation on tour all over the US. and internationally for years. The White House replica now lives in the President's Hall of Fame, also owned by the Zweifel family.
I was invited to photograph this fantastic piece of art by John Zweifel's sons, Randy and Jack Zweifel. I could stare at every little detail in every room for hours.
I knew my best approach to photograph the White House was using my Platypod Max and adding a gooseneck with a Litra light on it to be used as a fill light. The Halls of the exhibition are not very wide. Using a tripod will not only obstruct traffic, but it would also be disrespectful to any other attendees. I used the rails as support for the Platypod and used different lenses according to the distance between the rooms and the shots I wanted to get.
Whether you're a pro photographer, a hobbyist, you always have to find the right approach for every place and every kind of photograph you're taking. In this case, it was vital for me to move around to get different angles and have my camera supported to drag the shutter if I needed to. Some areas were tight, and even if I was allowed to bring a tripod inside, I wasn't going to be able to fit it in, and you know what fits everywhere? A PLATYPOD!