Obama’s Flickr

WTJ had this first as far as I can tell and then APE took it up. Check out official Election Night pictures on Flickr, posted by Obama for America photographer David Katz. (And sorry to mislead with the post’s title, I only wish this could have been a link to Obama’s portfolio)

(c) David Katz / Obama for America
There are a number of things that make these shots interesting for me. First of course is the ‘access’.. These are truly behind-the-scenes pictures that I doubt are attainable by someone outside the inner circle (shame, can you imagine what a real photojournalist could have pulled out of this?). But I am still left wondering, how unguarded are Obama and his entourage really? I look at this picture in particular and think, ‘do people really embrace like this in private?’. I don’t see how this formulaic pose can be both earnest in private and in public. There many less-guarded pictures in there, which are remarkable to see, but it still feels that Obama and the people around him are ‘on’ and aware of their image .. it makes me wonder when, if ever, they can really turn it ‘off’.
(c) David Katz, Obama for America
But more interesting, as I pointed out last night in a post about change.gov, is the apparent demeanor of Obama on this night (quiet, weighted, tired). Michael Shaw over at BAGNewsnotes wrote on election night about similar feelings surrounding his impression of Obama that night. I think we both see it as a fascinating thing to witness.

I was hoping these Flickr pictures would give us a better impression of Obama’s reaction in private, hedging the idea that he calculated his public performance, and reservations about camera-awareness aside, I think they do open something of another channel to understanding the weight of this moment on Obama the individual. There aren’t many pictures of him smiling. And there surely isn’t anything close to ‘Jube’ (sports photography slang for emotional/winning pictures).. like we see on tv (cool video from Slate V about the similarities between Obama and the TV show The West Wing. Go about 3:10 in to the video to see what I mean). By everything I’ve seen and treating all the images as opposite sides of the coin it appears that he was not acting differently before he took stage and when he was up in front of us; this moment seems to have hit him very seriously. As it should. That his true emotions, which at first take are so removed from typical campaigning and public appearance shots, shine through is a testament to his grounded reality and temperament. He didn’t put on a show to make us feel better about him or our chances: the true weight of the moment and the times ahead were on his face. And that seems very different than other politicians, who often are actors on stage with very calculated expressions and emotion. It would be interesting to look at other Presidential acceptance speeches to see if such a change in persona is typical.

Now couple this with WTJ’s news from Platon (in the same post as the Flickr link) that he was set to take the first portrait of President-Elect Obama immediately after the speech. He says it best: “Unfortunately we didn’t get to do the session. We were prepped and on call; ready to make the most of our 60 seconds. In the end and after all that had happened that evening he chose to spend time with his family over doing the shoot.” I’ll agree with Mrs. Hetherington (Mrs. WTJ) that this seems to be another indication of Obama’s character as well as his relationship to the mainstream media. He isn’t beholden to them and won’t do simply what they want. Interesting … and something to watch as time goes on. What will the access, visually in particular, be to an Obama presidency?

One Response to “Obama’s Flickr”

  1. M. Scott Brauer

    These photos are pretty bad. The other thing that I haven’t seen mentioned is that they’re all released under a Creative Commons license (share-alike, noncommercial). Traditionally journalism is considered noncommercial, so that perhaps means that any magazine or newspaper can use these photos. Hopefully they won’t, as the photos are akin to press releases, but I bet that’s not enough to stop a lot of publications with shrinking budgets.

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