Sandra Eisert Hero

Getting to Know Sandra

Sandra Eisert sees visual communication as one of the most powerful tools we have in bringing people together and creating understanding and dialogue.

In your work with Sandra, her job is to be your catalyst in expanding your vision and making your potential and the potential of your work a reality.

Studio consultations in Seattle are also available as well as extended project work at your location.

More On Sandra’s Approach

Whether you are a top pro or new to the game, her work with you not only helps you curate your material but it helps you focus your vision, articulate your direction to yourself and eliminate assumptions that might unknowingly be holding you back.

In the process you get expert context and real support as you and your work grow. From her you get great questions to help you strengthen your process, your work, your satisfaction with it and, in the process, you may realize possibilities that you might not have even considered.

Sandra examines the whole package from assumption and instinct to execution, valuing visual journalism as well as fine art, personal expression, illustration and other forms of visual communication. And she thinks the words you use to talk about your work as well as the words that accompany your images are important.

She also knows that how pictures are presented – their sizing, relationships and sequencing – can either markedly elevate images or diminish their power. To her understanding how each image or video clip really works is essential to presentation. No one would say that Sandra’s not intense and thoughtful in all this, but she also believes that growth and the puzzles life and work present us can be great fun, great discovery! Sandra recognizes that every project, from the largest to the most individual, is in some way a team effort.

For this serious work, Sandra brings you amazingly broad and deep experience, ranging from making pictures to designing presentations for them, presentations  that cross all sorts of formats – from newspapers, magazines and books, to videos, to the web, to shows and beyond. She even understands the importance of archival and legacy needs. 

You can check out her experience below but the words of those who’ve worked with her flesh out what the resume points really mean.

Sandra Eisert

Getting to Know Sandra

Sandra Eisert sees visual communication as one of the most powerful tools we have in bringing people together and creating understanding and dialogue.

In your work with Sandra, her job is to be your catalyst in expanding your vision and making your potential and the potential of your work a reality.

Studio consultations in Seattle are also available as well as extended project work at your location.

More on How Sandra Works

Whether you are a top pro or new to the game, her work with you not only helps you curate your material but it helps you focus your vision, articulate your direction to yourself and eliminate assumptions that might unknowingly be holding you back.

In the process you get expert context and real support as you and your work grow. From her you get great questions to help you strengthen your process, your work, your satisfaction with it and, in the process, you may realize possibilities that you might not have even considered.

Sandra examines the whole package from assumption and instinct to execution, valuing visual journalism as well as fine art, personal expression, illustration and other forms of visual communication. And she thinks the words you use to talk about your work as well as the words that accompany your images are important.

She also knows that how pictures are presented – their sizing, relationships and sequencing – can either markedly elevate images or diminish their power. To her understanding how each image or video clip really works is essential to presentation. No one would say that Sandra’s not intense and thoughtful in all this, but she also believes that growth and the puzzles life and work present us can be great fun, great discovery! Sandra recognizes that every project, from the largest to the most individual, is in some way a team effort.

For this serious work, Sandra brings you amazingly broad and deep experience, ranging from making pictures to designing presentations for them, presentations  that cross all sorts of formats – from newspapers, magazines and books, to videos, to the web, to shows and beyond. She even understands the importance of archival and legacy needs. 

You can check out her experience below but the words of those who’ve worked with her flesh out what the resume points really mean.

Experience and Accomplishments

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE

h

EDUCATION

AWARDS

DIVERSITY

Sandra Eisert

Sandra Eisert has helped create two of the largest websites on the internet, moved three major newspapers and their design forward as well as doing magazine editing and design. Her resume is littered with “firsts” as well as awards and audience accolades.

She has edited, designed and/or created strategy for over 100 books. She’s done wire service editing and oversight. But she’s edited for history too, working as White House picture editor for three sitting U.S. presidents as well as project work for a fourth. Over a decade of consulting has emphasized business strategies, media options, content strategy, and design. She is a strong believer in diversity and in pushing the front edge.

WORK EXPERIENCE

THE WHITE HOUSE

Picture Editor

Basics: Sandra Eisert was the first White House Picture Editor. She served in that staff role for three sitting U.S. Presidents and did contract editing for a fourth.

More Details

In all her White House roles, Sandra Eisert’s principles were journalistic. She was not a member of any political party and, if asked, refused to swear the required allegiance to the President himself, believing and stating that her true allegiance was to the Constitution and the American public.

FORD: Hired by Presidental Photographer David Hume Kennerly because of her ground-breaking work at the Courier-Journal & Louisville Times, then the only major visual newspaper of the top three U.S. national newspapers, Sandra made significant changes to the way White house photography was handled. She was keenly aware that a government in crisis was being led by a totally unknown Congressman who’d only shortly before become a still invisible Vice President. America did not know its own leader. And it had been deceived by its previous leader.

Having covered Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign as a student, with her lens trained on him for endless hours during chicken-dinner events, she consistently felt a hole of some sort in Nixon’s character and could not understand the public’s image of Nixon. At the Louisville papers she was deputized to quickly create a special section on Nixon, anticipating his possible resignation a day or two beforehand. As she plowed through 20 feet of library pictures of this long-time politician she realized why the public was foiled by Nixon; in all those pictures there were really only about five situations, all totally formal, smiling and preordained.

Eisert knew that, whether the public liked President Ford or not, it was essential that they knew and could trust who he was. And she knew pictures had to play a key role to help the country survive.

But when she found she had to approve picture releases through the White House Press Office, still filled with Nixon staff, she met with the same smiling, formal insistences. After about three rounds of this, Eisert exploded to Kennerly that this plasticity was absurd. To his undying credit, Kennerly immediately turned on his heal, went up to the Oval Office and said to the President, “We are resigning from the Press Office.” Ford agreed. And Eisert became the sole release authority but restricted releases to spontaneous situations, classified topics, and formal portraits – always insisting that these were genuine journalistic expressions. Kennerly, in turn, granted the requests of 45 individual photographers to spend anywhere from a day to three months alongside him as he covered the President, allowing the public to see their president from many eyes in a host of situations. These two tactics gave the public a full and honest picture of Ford.

Eisert also created albums of photographs for visiting heads of state to create remembrances and closer connections to foreign leaders. This is a much more frugal and effective gift than gold-ornamented treasures. She also handled any requests for the First Family.

BUSH 43: Near the end of the Bush administration, Eisert worked to transfer images to internet format, since the popularity of the internet and the transition to digital photography had happened during Bush’s two terms. She also prepared a weekly visual summary for the President and helped assemble a similar summary for the First Lady.

OBAMA: In the Obama administration, Eisert handled the flood of press release requests as well as presidential requests during the beginning of the administration. She also helped transfer picture releases to be done on the internet, at considerable cost savings and providing equal access to all.

CLINTON: In a contract role, Eisert served as Director of Photography for the Clinton Official Inaugural Book, balancing all assignments and photographers as well as editing the pictures.

   

With photographer David Hume Kennerly and presidential daughter Susan Ford, Sandra Eisert dives into work in The White House Photo Office in the West Wing to assemble an album of pictures for the president to give to for USSR President Leonid Brezhnev. The album commemorated Brezhnev’s historic S.A.L.T. talks in Vladivostok with President Gerald Ford. Instead of giving ornate gifts, as other countries often do, the U.S. gives memories with albums like this one, filled with the personalities and experiences of the trip. The American way is more memorable – and much cheaper!

THE WASHINGTON POST

Picture Editor

Basics: As the first woman or minority in that job, Eisert transformed every aspect of visual coverage.

More Details

She created the first national assignments and projects for staff photographers, creating a national stringer network, completely revamping a broken, wasteful and demoralizing assignment system, creating the paper’s first picture pages, it’s first 5 and 6-column pictures, and creating the first planning done for A1 and other section fronts. 

Managing Editor Howard Simons remarked of Eisert’s work that she’d “done more in your first six months than all the picture editors The Post has had in all the time they’d had them.”

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Directed Creation of DoD’s Public Web Program

Basics: In this extended consultancy, Eisert spearheaded creation of the DoD’s Public Web Program, building a team from 13 department heads who were initially adamant that any combined approach wasn’t in their individual interests.

More Details

Eisert quickly learned that several previous attempts at this task by other consultants had been shut down by these department heads. But she brought a completely different perspective to the strategic planning and reorganized the work of these departments, helping get multiple departments to rethink and reorganize their structure and approach – and make a team. 

She received DoD approval and funded the transformational effort which also enhanced site stability and functionality, radically revised their technology, expanded video capability, saved costs, provided more flexibility and use of resources, and, most importantly, demonstrated shared benefits for the departments themselves as well as the public, contractors, and government in general.

MICROSOFT & MSNBC.COM

Founding Senior Editor,
Director of Graphics & Designer

Basics: Eisert was the first and only journalist on the founding team of four senior editors. She was refiner of the mission, pusher of all boundaries and recruiter of journalists to the staff in a project that forever graphically changed the face of the internet and news. The result significantly exceeded Microsoft’s expectations.

More Details

   

At a time of slow dialup and tiny pictures, Sandra’s clever thinking made dominant picture use possible, and made the use of CMS practical and robust. This Rubik’s Cube of design, which offered editors instant, infinite options, didn’t just change the face of the internet, it also transformed picture use from postage stamp-level to being the dominant, instantly appearing elements on the web screen.

The site’s revolutionary design, pieces of which can still be seen on most internet sites today, allowed the first content management system to deliver the best design and news photography on the internet in just a click and delivered them in any kind of presentation package necessary on any browser, including Microsoft’s proprietary software.

The site also introduced the first videos and interactive graphics, two arenas of visual coverage Eisert also long promoted. 

The journalistic quality of this staff and its product and was good as any major publication Eisert had worked on. Her design saved Microsoft about $5 million in production costs annually and allowed complex, precise project creation almost instantaneously, rather than in a 25-hour cycle as earlier efforts allowed. The product this team built far exceeded Microsoft’s original plan of six templets, five of which contained tiny pre-sized pictures. Instead, in a time of dialup speeds, pictures instantly downloaded and dominated Sandra’s designs, drawing attention to highest quality stories. Even if it was done with smoke and mirrors, the impossible was an everyday thing at MSNBC.com. Users loved it!!!

Eisert had seen the issues facing print journalism when even publishers would not face those issues; “I knew things had to change.” she said. “I recall a few people asking me what I was doing wasting a perfectly good career on “something like this!”  All I could say was that, “I just don’t think you understand yet.” 

In the moments just before the team pushed the button to launch, visionary fellow Senior Editor John Callan asked us all, she said, “if we didn’t wonder if this was how Gutenberg had felt one day hundreds of years earlier. That was how big that moment seemed.”

A rare screen grab from the MSNBC.com newsroom as Sandra, center, as the Senior Editor and Director of Graphics works with Business Editor Mark Pawlosy, seated at the VDT screen, while coordinating with (l-r) David Kaill, Brenden West and Breanna Anderson of the Development team. Microsoft had been organized in small, single-person offices and a newsroom had to be built out of existing space so journalists could collaboratively communicate with one another the way they did in the many newsrooms from which they came.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Washington Bureau Picture Editor

Basics: Primarily running the network for the Southern U.S, Eisert was the first woman on staff to edit in that office which, in addition to directing all coverage for the South, also handled many major news events including visits of all foreign leaders, White House coverage and rapid Capitol Hill national and regional coverage – always trying to stay ahead of UPI. 

More Details

Eisert went to AP to learn how to rapidly deliver on major and fast-moving stories. This knowledge came in very handy in some of the major news stories she covered in her next roles, including managing strategies for mega and fast-moving stories. She was the first woman or minority to work as a picture editor in this key bureau.

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

Design Director & Senior Graphics Editor

Basics: Eisert was the paper’s first Design Director and the first woman or minority to be a Senior Graphics Editor at the Merc where she coordinated an avalanche of major sections and photographic projects as well as introducing design to the front page and most other sections of the paper. 

More Details

In the Graphics Editor role, while always keeping the photographers and the photography staff at the forefront of her efforts, she was responsible for the visual content of all section fronts and all special sections and picture pages.

As a Graphics Editor she, of course, coordinated with all editors, writers and departments and managed photographers and resources on a daily basis and worked closely with the art department on informational graphics and illustration and coordinated backshop production. 

That job eventually included creating the Mercury News Design Desk, which, although not the first Design Desk in the country, had major impact throughout the publication. This Knight-Ridder newspaper of Silicon Valley was a national graphics leader with a great photographic and picture editing staff; in National Press Photographers Association competition, the Mercury-News team won the Angus McDougall Award for Overall Excellence in Picture Editing and six additional Overall Best Use of Pictures team awards within eight years. 

The team also sponsored an annual Graphics Conference which brought together some of the best visual talent in the country and played an important role in setting national standards high and sharing successes. Building on the foundational work of NPPA Sprague winner J. Bruce Baumann, in roughly a decade, her work along with that of a lot of intensely dedicated writers, editors, photographers and artists helped transform what had been a modest community newspaper into a Top Ten publication. 

Photography was also a critical component of the Mercury-News 1989 spot news Pulitzer Prize for earthquake coverage; in that coverage, the special section Eisert directed, designed and edited helped put “The Merc” over the top in heavy competition. That deadline-produced section also won five other international design and editing awards and created a new way to mount a section on the press to provide the kind of picture display needed to show the scope of the disaster.  

Eisert’s efforts to make the newspaper more functional for busy readers and a changing demographic led to her personal revelations about newspaper organization and design which, although not implemented then, would later become the basis for her revolutionary designs at Microsoft/MSNBC.com. 

By the end of this tour, Eisert also showed interest in working on digital formats at this Silicon Valley-based newspaper, which was the first newspaper in the country to see any internet potential. In their only meeting, the paper’s internet guru briskly explained that no one was interested in looking at pictures on the internet and that we’d wait for movie downloads  – so basically, “go away.” Eisert looked at him and thought about his lack of understanding of people’s interest in pictures and wondered if it was worth the argument. She decided not and replied with, “Oh, I didn’t know that,” turned on her heal and walked out; he never saw the light and she would pursue her interest in CDs and digital possibilities in her next position.

THE COURIER-JOURNAL AND LOUISVILLE TIMES

Picture Editor

Basics: Eisert became the first woman or minority to become picture editor of a major U.S. newspaper, one that also consistently ranked among the top three newspapers in the country.  Quickly, and without permission, Eisert transformed the task of creating a daily picture page into a role that, except for budgeting, would later become a model for the role of Assistant Managing Editor for Graphics – handing anything and everything visual from the usual assigning, editing, cropping and placement, and then expanding to include broad use of the art department (including generating some of the first newspaper informational graphics) and creating page designs, directing special sections and leveraging page display.

More Details

Eisert was privileged to work with what many then would consider to be the best photographic staff in the country, including adding two amazing women to this top-ranked photography staff, a staff which then had it’s own aerial photographer, its own mobile lab, two studios, two darkrooms and automatic processing equipment.

When Eisert started in Louisville, there was only one woman in her newsroom, one who diligently worked at the copy desk, who never looked up from her work or took a break in all the time Eisert was there. Copy desk colleagues confirmed that they never saw her chat with anyone, take a lunch break, do anything but move her copy pencil. So Eisert realized that she was alone and that how she comported herself would either open doors for others behind her or slam them tighter.

On her first day on the job, Eisert walked up to the news editor Jack Carey who looked up disdainfully over his half-frame glasses to firmly point out that he had “been in THIS job longer” than she’d been alive. She admits that she did look like she’d just escaped from junior high, so she realized the challenge she had to meet. By the end of her tour there, Carey was her biggest fan.

Sandra in the newsroom at the Louisville Picture Desk not all that long before leaving for The White House. By this time one additional woman had appeared in the newsroom and Sandra had already completed two of her earliest books and transformed the visual approach of the paper.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Picture Editing Intern

Basics: Eisert was the first woman or minority to have that job, with the previous such intern being 13 years prior. (Fortunately the internship was continued after her tour there.)

More Details

She worked on the major news story of the year, transformed a previously thought unpublishable story into making it a strong, published story as well as helping deal with outside story submissions.

WEST MAGAZINE

Art Director

Basics: Eisert was responsible for everything visual on the magazine and Eisert maximized the work of top freelance photographers, illustrators and writers from around the country as well as leveraging a stellar staff.

More Details

This combination of rich visual options, along with great writing, helped create devoted readers and numerous awards for this weekly, which Eisert radically redesigned in a half day since there was no more time available than that. 

WELLKIT CORP

Startup Founder and CEO

Basics: Founded and designed a graphic approach to healthcare

More Details

She says that maybe it was because she’d lived in two tech hubs – San Jose, and Seattle – “I had an idea for a graphic, software approach to healthcare that could aid both patients and doctors, especially in dealing with complex medical situations.” So she took a sort of graphic side trip to try to change the way we approach healthcare and put power in patient’s hands and improve dialogue with doctors. 

To launch this startup, Eisert graduated from the Founder Institute, the world’s premier idea-stage startup accelerator training. While doctors and patients loved this approach, venture capitalists yawned. They were not amused to see a woman show up, especially one over age 25.

BOOK EXPERIENCE

LISTED HERE BY PUBLISHER

Sandra has done editing, design and/or strategy for over 100 books for a wide variety of publishers on topics as diverse as disasters, history, photography, cooking, mental health, thinking styles,  ecology, government, education, travel, medicine and more. Together they total roughly 8 million copies in circulation. Here is a sampling, by publisher:

HARPER COLLINS Book List
  • A Day in the Life of Japan
  • A Day in the Life of America
  • A day in the Life of Ireland
  • A Day in the Life of Italy
  • A Day in the Life of Thailand
  • A Day in the Life of Israel
  • A Day in the Life of Hollywood
  • A Day in the Life of Africa
  • One Earth
  • The Power to Heal
  • Christmas in America
  • In Pursuit of Ideas
  • Requiem for the Heartland
  • Jerusalem – In the Shadow of Heaven
  • Tuscany: The Beautiful Cookbook
  • Provence: The Beautiful Cookbook
  • The Pacific Northwest: The Beautiful Cookbook

SIERRA CLUB Book List
  • Material World
  • Women in the Material World

OCEANIC GRAPHIC INTERNATIONAL Book List
  • Revolution Revisited

INGRAM Book List
  • Thinking Differently – How to Thrive Using Your Nonlinear Creative Thinking

TIME-LIFE Book List
  • Williams-Sonoma’s Savoring France
  • Williams-Sonoma’s Savoring Italy
  • Williams-Sonoma’s Savoring Southeast Asia
  • Williams-Sonoma’s Savoring Spain & Portugal

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS PRESS Book List
  • Extraordinary Circumstances
  • Photo du Jour
  • Changing the Face of Power – Women in the U.S. Senate
TIDES FOUNDATION Book List
  • Fifteen Seconds – The Great California Earthquake of 1989
WELDON OWEN PUBLISHERS Book List
  • Over Florida
  • Over Minnesota
HARPER & ROW Book List
  • A Time to Heal

  • The Times of My Life

  • Portrait of a President

FULCRUM PUBLISHING Book List
  • Small Town America
NEWSWEEK Book List
  • Shooter

EPICENTER COMMUNICATIONS Book List
  • The Mission: Inside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Open Minds
  • An American Reunion – Official William Clinton Inaugural Book
  • Celebrating America’s Spirit Together – Official George W. Bush Inaugural Book
BERKELEY Book List
  • Guyana Massacre

EARTH AWARE Book List
  • The Way to Tea
MCGRAW HILL Book List
  • Like Normal People

THE COURIER-JOURNAL & TIMES Book List
  • Tornado!
  • Barney Cowherd – Photographer
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Book List
  • The Living White House

The Team

Nicole Lujan

Nicole Lujan

TPE’s Office Manager

Nicole is our organization expert who has great retail sales management experience. She makes sure our trains run on time.

Meline McWhirter

Meline McWhirter

TPE’s Financial Wrangler

Meline’s makes sanity out of the numbers and adds to our joy. She also helps organizations in Washington and California via natural-numbers.com

Kate Rappé

Kate Rappé

TPE’s Graphic Designer

Kate has been a freelance designer for over 25 years with her company CMYKate Designs. Her passion is transforming ideas into beautiful visual designs and making an impact with every project. Her portfolio of work can be seen at cmykate.com