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Cherry picking the views at Sunnylands

Ken Hayden Photographs Sunnylands.

Me in the Cherry Picker at Sunnylands.

In April 2012, I received a call from The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands.  It was an opportunity to photograph the lauded Sunnylands, the 200-acre, Rancho Mirage, California, former residence and private golf course built fifty years ago by Walter and Leonore Annenberg of ‘TV Guide’ fame and fortune.  It just also happens to be the spot where former President Obama held historic meetings with China’s President Xi last year—one of the important political events that has earned the compound the designation as the Camp David of the west where global leaders seek to advance international peace and understanding. 

During the call, describing the kinds of shots needed for their printed materials and for historical documentation, it was mentioned there would be the use of a cherry picker to allow me a bird’s eye perspective of the golf course, fishing lakes and mid-century modern architecture by A.Quincy Jones.

“Holy crap!” I thought. The idea of dangling from  a bucket attached to a long robotic arm high up in the air was seriously tweaking my acrophobia.  These were the ‘pre-drone’ days of photography so as it turned out, yours truly was the drone on this one.

I graciously accepted the job despite the stomach pangs I felt thinking about shooting from the cherry picker..I was so motivated by the idea of shooting the famed historical interiors designed by the late William Haines and Ted Graber and complemented by the Annenberg’s legendary art collection that I just couldn’t pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity over a little case of acrophobia.

Ken Hayden Shoots Sunnylands.

One of the shots taken from the cherry picker showing the pool area and the main building.

As it turned out, the ride was pretty fun and the guy entrusted with my safety was an absolute pro

Ken Hayden Shoots Sunnylands.

The ‘Inwood’ room at Sunnylands named after the Annenbergs Pennsylvania home.

All images courtesy:  The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands

Ken Hayden shoots Sunnylands

One of the elevated views taken from ‘the bucket’ at about 75 feet in the air.

The Annenberg's master bedroom with full size bed because they liked to sleep close together. The Annenbergs stipulated that when the house is used for diplomatic events, only a president or equal ranking could sleep in their bed.

The Annenberg’s master bedroom. The Annenbergs stipulated that when the house is used for diplomatic events, only a president or equal ranking should sleep in their bed.

(almost) full extension on the cherry picker. It still goes up another 2 feet from here.. Yikes!

(almost) full extension on the cherry picker. It still goes up another 20 feet from here.. Yikes!

The 'formal' dining room at Sunnylands. Mrs. Annenberg preferred smaller tables for a more intimate experience during state dinners.

The ‘formal’ dining room at Sunnylands. Mrs. Annenberg preferred smaller tables for a more intimate experience during state dinners.

A detail of the great atrium at the entry to Sunnylands with a figure by Rodin in the center of a fountain.

The main living room at Sunnylands.

The main living room at Sunnylands.

A slightly elevated view across one of the 11 man-made lakes at Sunnylands.

A slightly elevated view across one of the 11 man-made lakes at Sunnylands.

The master bedroom seating area looking out to Walter Annenbergs beloved cactus garden.

The master bedroom seating area looking out to Walter Annenbergs beloved cactus garden.

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