Snapping The Senate: Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg’s Photography

Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, whose husband is the famed senator, wants to "put a face with the laws" in her portraits of Congressional lawmakers.

Ted Kennedy
Among the memorable photos by Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg is a portrait of Senator Ted Kennedy, whom she photographed in his office surrounded by pictures of his brothers John and Robert Kennedy.
Courtesy of Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg.

From Lady Gaga to former First Lady Hillary Clinton, Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg has had the opportunity to photograph history in the making.

A philanthropist, writer and businesswoman, Lautenberg’s lifelong passion for photography was ignited while shooting the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Accord in 1993. Her exhibited work includes a series of performance photos of pop star Lady Gaga. Her latest project, “How They Changed Our Lives,” a compilation of portraits of U.S. Senators from 2005-2009, debuted at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City in October. It can be seen online ( and will appear on the Library of Congress website beginning this spring (

Each of the 113 portraits in Lautenberg’s series is accompanied by information about the subjects’ legislative history. The goal is to help familiarize citizens with their elected representatives. “Many people don’t know who their senators are or what they have done,” says Lautenberg. “I feel this project is informing the uninformed.” Thanks to her husband, Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey’s senior senator, the photographer had special access to her subjects—and they seem pleased with her work. “This is an important project and really defines who I am,” says Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Among the project’s memorable moments were an emotional sit down with Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), surrounded by portraits of his brothers John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy.

The project is continuing with portraits of the current Senate. “We are a nation of laws and these are the people that have written these laws,” Lautenberg says. “I want to put a face with the laws.”

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