Louis Fabian Bachrach Jr. was waiting. The patriarch of Bachrach Studios had flown from Boston to Washington in 1959 to retake Senator John F. Kennedy’s portrait. An earlier sitting had been disappointing—the photographs were out of focus or showed Kennedy, who suffered from debilitating back pain, posing awkwardly. None were usable. Fabian, as he was often known, agonized over his failure to capture Kennedy. “It really ate at him,” recalled his son Robert, also a photographer, who, years later, would preside over the end of the family business.

When the young senator finally arrived—eight hours late—the restless presidential hopeful announced that he could spare the photographer only 10 minutes of his time.