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Obama's People
January 14, 2009 9:36 PM   Subscribe

Obama's People [full-screen slideshow]: one photographer; one background; fifty-two members of the incoming US administration. Oh, and one "significant item" per person. The kind of thing -- not just a political piece, but a photographic project -- that reminds you what the institutional clout of the New York Times can make possible.
posted by holgate (93 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't get over how many people in their 30's are coming on (not to mention their 20's).

Makes me feel over the hill at the tender age of 34.
posted by bardic at 9:43 PM on January 14, 2009


Yeah, it's a shame they'll be going under in May.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:48 PM on January 14, 2009


I was sort of wondering why Bob Casey, Jr. was photographed, I hadn't read of him having any special role in the Obama administration.
posted by bobo123 at 9:52 PM on January 14, 2009


These are great photos. If this whole White House thing doesn't work out, Peter Orszag really needs to join the cast of Mad Men, Geithner's got a long future as an evil mad scientist (Denis McDondough is clearly his right hand assassin), and Jim Messina.... I.... I have no words, but I'm very afraid of this robotic Conan O'Brein killing machine.

(Is Jack Reed's head really that big?)
posted by rokusan at 9:55 PM on January 14, 2009


52? I smell another set of playing cards.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 9:55 PM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is something wrong with my monitor?

They all look like creepy freaks! What's wrong with their skin tones? Do they have some sort of disease? Let me look at some Flickr photos. No, everything seems fine there, what's wrong with these photos?!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:55 PM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


So which one will become the breakout star like Stephanopoulos?
posted by Joe Beese at 9:56 PM on January 14, 2009


(Also am I the only one who keeps hoping for the other Jon Favreau?)
posted by rokusan at 9:57 PM on January 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


Baby, the American economy is so money.
posted by gompa at 10:03 PM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, there is something weird about the photos.
posted by grouse at 10:04 PM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Interesting as a Who's Who, but he's no Annie Leibovitz. Actually, why didn't the Times get DaShiv to take the portraits?

I like how, in the accompanying audio, the Times director of photographer, talking about how great it is that they asked each person to bring along a special item to define themselves, adds that when David Axelrod wanted to make his 'item' a chocolate chip cookie, they wouldn't print the photo.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:05 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there is something weird about the photos.

nth-ed

Shades of this?
posted by Joe Beese at 10:08 PM on January 14, 2009


everything is just a little bit overexposed it looks like - on purpose. it gives it a kind of 'sharpen filter' flavor.
posted by eatdonuts at 10:15 PM on January 14, 2009


Peter Orszag looks like the most no-nonsense dude in the bunch, like he wouldn't mind you being around, but do not get in his way or he'll snap your neck commando style.
posted by boo_radley at 10:25 PM on January 14, 2009


That's an awful picture of Artur Davis. He looks dyspeptic.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:27 PM on January 14, 2009


Is it just me or are these photos terrible. It seems like they took deliberately bad photos as some kind of artistic statement, it's like extra-real but surreal a the same time? It's like they took the lighting that JilL Greenberg does (I don't know what the term for it is)

So to me, Greenberg's images have this surreal quality. But it's almost like these guys somehow wanted to be "hyper real" and a little surreal at the same time. So we end up with this totally flat lighting that looks both strange and exposes all the person's flaws, almost amplifies them.

I also think they used -- I don't know what you would call it -- but they shot the photos from a greater distance so there was a narrower field of view. Again I'm not sure of the terms, Focal Length maybe?

The results are just awful. Totally unflattering, Rahm Emanuel looks like he got punched in both eyes. Christina Romer and Susan Rice's pics are just unflattering, Hillary Clinton looks like a space alien. Ken Salazar looks like wax statue. Jim Messina I don't know how to describe, looks like rude little kid somehow.

Nancy Peloci's picture ended up pretty good, though.
posted by delmoi at 10:28 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't like these. The lighting is crazy bright, and everyone appears to be cut out, drop-shadowed, and stuck on a white background.
posted by dogwelder at 10:40 PM on January 14, 2009


Eugene Kang, please report to my pants immediately
posted by radiosig at 10:43 PM on January 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Looks like ringflash to me.
By the way, people actually look like this. I commend the photographer for photographing these ubermenches to show how they actually look.

I photographed Orszag at a Senate nomination hearing yesterday. The dude actually looks like that.

I appreciate that the photographer isn't blowing smoke up my ass, but it sounds like a number of folks love that sweet, smokey enema that is the touched-up portrait.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 10:56 PM on January 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


Looks like high pass filter photo shopping that Greenberg and some other photographer whose name I forgot made popular. Every fucking portrait you see in a magazine these days has it. I think it looks like shit.
posted by afu at 11:15 PM on January 14, 2009


Obama promised diversity and he has delivered. Judging by these photos, a good portion of his team is comprised of African Americans and at least half are the decaying corpses of the undead.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:18 PM on January 14, 2009 [21 favorites]


Dave Hill, that's the name of the other photographer, as in "the Dave Hill look."

You can really see it in Clinton and Reid's pictures.
posted by afu at 11:24 PM on January 14, 2009


Looks like high pass filter photo shopping that Greenberg and some other photographer whose name I forgot made popular. Every fucking portrait you see in a magazine these days has it. I think it looks like shit.

So we've gone to complaining about magazine photos being too photoshopped and pretty to too photoshopped and ugly.
posted by bobo123 at 11:32 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fuck yeah, Mike Strautmanis, rock that Cubs hat.

I like the filter effect. My issue with some of the photos is that the subjects didn't seem to be able to pose very well (*cough* Jim Messina *cough*), so they came across as awkward.
posted by jnaps at 11:40 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Easy. It's an homage to Richard Avedon's photos of the DC elite and powers that were of an earlier era.
posted by raysmj at 11:47 PM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Another Avedon photo. Yikes.
posted by raysmj at 11:49 PM on January 14, 2009


Oh, yeah, almost everyone here looks awkward and posed, and the lighting (and/or post-processing) is harsh.

I like that. I think that's a good thing. I think that it pushes back against the kind of hagiographic imagery that we're so used to seeing, even, these days, when it's pictures of politicians. All the unsubtle blurred background accidental halos over Bush's head we kept seeing for years, for example. And the Ultimate Leader photographic wankfest over Obama -- much as I have deeply positive feelings about and let's face it, is a pretty good-lookin' man -- disturbs me, because in an actual democracy, too much emotional attachment and worshipfulness directed at political 'leaders' is a very worrying, and very American, trend.

Let them look human and real and clumsy and kind of the way they might look under fluorescent lights after spending a long day actually doing some useful governance. It might be a kind of reverse con-game -- look how human they are! -- but it's better than having the pendulum swing too far in the other photoshopped and soft-lit way.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:52 PM on January 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


Ah, thanks for the reference spotting, raysmj. Exactly -- harkening back to a previous era when imagery was, maybe used with a little less pomo cunning and guile, and when we and our politicians were, JFK notwithstanding, a little less concerned with image and images, and more with actual politics.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:54 PM on January 14, 2009


You're welcome. It's worth pointing out, however, that Avedon's photos were groundbreaking at the time as regards photos of politicians. And most of the ones I linked to were taken not for an institution of long-standing such as the NY Times, but frickin' Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, then a much more relevant and bold publication, pulled that off.
posted by raysmj at 12:13 AM on January 15, 2009


How about we make a deal that we don't ask our policymakers to pose as models, and that likewise we don't ask models to make policy decisions.

And let's hope the make-everybody-look-like-hammered-shit photo trend passes on quickly. It is possible to portray the dignity of public service without making officials look like they've just been picked up on DUI.
posted by troybob at 12:51 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


A ringflash wasn't used here. Looks like two large softboxes or umbrellas, one on each side of the subject obviously. I really don't think much was done here to achieve any kind of "look" like Dave Hill or Jill Greenburg have a "look", and I definitely wouldn't call them terrible.
posted by Venadium at 1:34 AM on January 15, 2009


Celebrities = politicians.

Politicians = celebrities.

McCain = Obama.

Obama = McCain.

pepsi is coke
posted by ford and the prefects at 1:36 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The pictures, that is. I wouldn't call the pictures terrible. Greenberg (not Greenburg, oops) and Hill's styles however.... well I guess I wouldn't call them terrible either. It'd be nice if so many people didn't waste their time trying to emulate those looks in Photoshop and created something original instead.
posted by Venadium at 1:37 AM on January 15, 2009


BRRRAIIIIIINNSSSS .... BRRRRAIINNSSS FOR CHANNNNNGGGEEE...... BRRRRAINNSSSS
posted by cavalier at 2:03 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Salazar and Chu look like they've been drugged and shit their pants.
posted by strawberryviagra at 2:29 AM on January 15, 2009


these are awful.
posted by lapolla at 2:33 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why do I have to listen to that idiot photographer talking about how wonderful he is before I've even got a chance to look at the pictures? It's like buying a DVD of a film you've never seen, and listening to the director's commentary first time through.
posted by Faze at 3:29 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


On a politics-is-hot note, Mona Sutphen.. In a second. You just name the place, Mona, and I'll be there with flowers and some serious questions about change.

And Desiree Rogers is 49? It doesn't crack, indeed.
posted by hanoixan at 3:52 AM on January 15, 2009


Louis Bertin

Lawrence Summers (3rd picture)
posted by nax at 3:53 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hanoixan, the jury's come out pretty strongly against I'd-Hit-It-Filter. There are ways of saying, "wow, she is pretty" without being offensive. Such as "wow, she is pretty."

On another note, Robert Gates looks like he's ready to rip someone's head off at a moment's notice.
posted by explosion at 4:07 AM on January 15, 2009


Pics aren't bad, and they aren't anything to write home about either. Out of that crew, I personally like Robert Gibbs the best. I won't soon forget him going on Fox and effectively counterattacking Hannity and pretty much overwhelming the guy on his own show. You could almost see Hannity's balls shriveling up as Gibbs laid into him. I'm not gay (not that there's anything wrong with that!), but when Gibbs was going off on Hannity...I think it moved.
posted by jamstigator at 4:12 AM on January 15, 2009


Aww explosion.. It's late. I'm punchy. And I take it all back. They're simply very attractive.

And yes, Gates is looking sharp and edgy.
posted by hanoixan at 4:16 AM on January 15, 2009


If you look very carefully, you'll notice that that cutup Rahm Emanuel is doing the "Reverse Shocker." Ouch!
posted by Turtles all the way down at 4:36 AM on January 15, 2009


This is lousy photography. I'm sure the photographer got just the effect he was trying for, but the style is self-conscious and distracting. Look at the comments above - more people are commenting on the photo style (whether pro or con) as on the subjects themselves.
posted by twsf at 5:21 AM on January 15, 2009


Obama = McCain.

false equivalence = stupid
posted by DU at 5:24 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can go from working in a windsurfing shop to being the White House Trip Director in five years?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:25 AM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


more people are commenting on the photo style (whether pro or con) as on the subjects themselves.

Well, what is there to say about the subjects, really? They're just the new batch of workaholic Democratic policy wonks - incrementally less lily-white straight male in aggregate than their predecessors.

Except for Hillary, of course - who, as delmoi points out, is a space alien.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:39 AM on January 15, 2009


I like these photos. Even playing field. Stark. Most sans TV makeup.
posted by rmmcclay at 5:44 AM on January 15, 2009


Again: these are great photos. Just because we're inundated with airbrushed magazine cover glamor shots day after day doesn't mean that good photos need to be attractive photos.
posted by rokusan at 5:47 AM on January 15, 2009


Yeah, a softbox or two, right near the axis of the camera, maybe a hairlight here or there, and p-chop to take care of shadows on the backdrop. I can see why the photographer did it, and it's a valid artistic choice, but just not my cup of tea. The camera, especially today, can see better than you can - showing wrinkles, blemishes and sunken eyes is easy. Showing character through wrinkles, blemishes and sunken eyes is very, very hard - and I don't think Kander has succeeded. It's interesting, tho, moreso than the usual political portraits, so he didn't fail, either.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:49 AM on January 15, 2009


The one of Cass Sunstein makes me giggle. He's chewing on the earpiece of his glasses. It's like ladyporn from 1983!
posted by sugarfish at 6:01 AM on January 15, 2009


Why do I have to listen to that idiot photographer talking about how wonderful he is before I've even got a chance to look at the pictures?

I think you're doing it wrong. The commentary plays in the background while you look through the photos.
posted by smackfu at 6:02 AM on January 15, 2009


It's awesome to put some faces to the names, but I will still inevitably think of the government as being run by the cast from The West Wing.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:07 AM on January 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


By the way, people actually look like this. I commend the photographer for photographing these ubermenches to show how they actually look.

No they don't. These people wouldn't look like this if you were looking at them in person, you would be much closer and so their features would be "distorted" in a way that looks much more natural, and since they would be in 3d you'd have a much greater sense of depth. And obviously we don't have great lighting everywhere, but people would almost certainly be lit from above and not put through some goofy filtering that looks kind of like cheap-ass HDR.

I like the filter effect. My issue with some of the photos is that the subjects didn't seem to be able to pose very well (*cough* Jim Messina *cough*), so they came across as awkward.

Isn't that somewhat the responsibility of the photographer? And also, if the photographer chooses the worst pictures, what are you going to do? I'm sure some of these people know how to pose.

The picture's Slap*Happy linked too are great. They really show a ton of character, which is what you want. These pictures don't show character, they look like posed corpses. The idea that people "really look" like this or that these pictures show "reality" is just wrong. If you were sitting across the table from these people, they wouldn't look anything like these awful pictures.
posted by delmoi at 6:41 AM on January 15, 2009


This is lousy photography.

No, it's really not. These read as basically objective documents (although they surely are not), with just enough of a common peculiar style to them to make them function as a set. I think they work as equally well in the specific political narrative sense ("Behold! This is the scraggly band of misfits and bigwigs who are coming together against all odds to save Christmas!") as in the individual human sense ("people who are pre-occupied, and exhausted, and excited, and delighted, and haggard, and self-conscious, and not").

There are plenty of photojournalist news snapshots of each and every one of these people. I applaud the attempt to capture these people in a more intentional light, literally and figuratively, and I say it is a successful one.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:51 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've tried this in three different browsers and never get any photos - just a black screen.
posted by odinsdream at 6:51 AM on January 15, 2009


I like the pictures. I'm nothing more than an avid amateur, but I don't find the style distracting from the subjects. I don't have a great memory for faces, however, these tend to highlight the features I will find most memorable when I am making an effort to remember someone.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:53 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The photographer is a pretentious twit. It's possible to present an honest and earnest portrait without jacking up the blue channel, rolling around in local contrast enhancement and making the subject look like a pancake on butcher paper.

That said, Samantha Power is stunningly beautiful (despite the photo).
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:07 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


needs some lazer backgrounds.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 7:27 AM on January 15, 2009


So, Jon Favreau looks nothing like Sam Seaborn. Bummer.
posted by thivaia at 7:31 AM on January 15, 2009


Does anyone know what those green lapel pins are that about a third of Obama's staffers seem to be wearing in the photos?
posted by limeonaire at 7:49 AM on January 15, 2009


I thought it did not work as a photo essay because, with very few exceptions, everyone was looking off to my right. And I know there's nothing interesting over there. So, instead of getting the impression that they "people who are pre-occupied, and exhausted, and excited, and delighted, and haggard, and self-conscious, and not", I get the impression they are overly-posed and trying too hard to seem like real folks instead of the capable peoplewho were lucky enough to get into a rarefied circle that they actually are--pallor, blemishes, sunken eyes or not.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:55 AM on January 15, 2009


Yeah, the lighting's a bit weird. I like the photos though. The only thing that really bugs me is that the photographer was apparently holding the birdie up high and to the side. Poor Hilary looks like she's staring at nothing. Oh, and fuck the NYT for its terrible presentation. I'd sure love to link to the photos but, guess what, I can't!

Daschle looks positively winsome, very handsome. Great glasses. And why is Biden wearing a Canadian flag pin?
posted by Nelson at 8:00 AM on January 15, 2009


odinsdream, I had the same problem. Close the full screen view and hit the right arrow in the middle right of the web page to get to the pictures. Pause the dull audio. Then ask yourself, why don't they just use plain ole html for this?
posted by Outlawyr at 8:13 AM on January 15, 2009


On the photographs as photographs, that background seems to place everyone somewhere between "hyperreal" and "cardboard cutout", which I think is interesting, given that my local paper was actually carrying around cardboard cutouts of the candidates and getting people to pose with when they came to town.

Thanks for the Avedon reminder, raysmj. I'd like to know what people thought of The Family in 1976. And Avedon's choice of b/w for his portraits, along with his status as a photographic institution, accelerates the normalisation of his style. That may not apply to this set, even though the Hill/Greenberg shiny high-pass look seems to be the rage these days.
posted by holgate at 8:27 AM on January 15, 2009


Hanoixan, the jury's come out pretty strongly against I'd-Hit-It-Filter. There are ways of saying, "wow, she is pretty" without being offensive. Such as "wow, she is pretty."

Funny that you take issue with this comment, but not the one in which Eugene Kang is referred to in a much more overtly sexual manner.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:30 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like the make-everyone look-awkward and unmade-up look.

It's nice to see so many smiles rather than scowls

There are too many people to go through one by one, but is it at all surprising that the White House Social Secretary looks like the Princess Of Something?

Also, the new head of Homeland Security is a dead ringer for my grandma. I'm not sure how to feel about that.
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Patrick Gaspard's outfit is just sharp as hell.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:55 AM on January 15, 2009


It's awesome to put some faces to the names, but I will still inevitably think of the government as being run by the cast from The West Wing.

Flipping through these, I turned to my wife and said "Hey, Obama's Charlie is Asian."
posted by EarBucket at 9:00 AM on January 15, 2009


The photos are interesting but mostly just reminded my of Avedon's final project of taking photos at the political conventions in 2004 for the New Yorker. I remembered seeing this photo juxtaposed with this and being absolutely floored. That whole set can be found here.

These photos=interesting.
However, Avedon=art.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:05 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I turned to my wife and said "Hey, Obama's Charlie is Asian."

So was McCain's.
posted by decagon at 9:25 AM on January 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


-Messina is going to make a great Creep of Staff.

-I want to see the photo shoot where they are all debasing a cardboard cutout of Bush, like Favreau did with Clinton.

-Metafilter: "Hey, Obama's Charlie is Asian."
posted by ericbop at 9:40 AM on January 15, 2009


Add me to the list of people who automatically matched these people to their West Wing equivalent.

I was interested to learn that Eric Shinseki will be running the department of Veterans' Affairs. On a recent trip to O'ahu I visited the Hawaii Army Museum, which is on the far western end of Waikiki Beach and well worth a visit if you're in the area (it's free!), and one of the many excellent exhibits was all about this favorite son of Hawaii.
posted by padraigin at 9:49 AM on January 15, 2009


It is difficult, if true, I don't want hagiographies, but I also don't want ethnographies either, these people might be flawed, but they're the best for their office because of the choices they made in the circumstances they found themselves in. I don't know how you'd capture that whilst avoiding idolatry or awwwshuckesstry but I think catching them in semi au natural (if awkward) poses with a sprinkle of selected props is ok even if it does give it an air of 'an exercise in something', super ringflash and post production photoshop not so much.
posted by doobiedoo at 9:57 AM on January 15, 2009


MESSINA SMASH!

Also, Clinton looks like she's starring at some religious apparition just off camera.
posted by The Whelk at 9:58 AM on January 15, 2009


Oh and treasury secretary designate Timothy Geithner looks like a spoiler for the fourth volume of Heroes.
posted by doobiedoo at 9:59 AM on January 15, 2009


Patrick Gaspard's outfit is just sharp as hell.

It sure is. Olive green suit with an orange tie and a snappy circa 1963 styled overcoat.

I really like these photos, though the people who come off best are the people who aren't posing. You can see that they've just been grabbed on their way down the hall or whatever, and shoved in front of the camera for a few snaps. The sense that all these people are working people is conveyed really well by this set.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:12 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looks like payback for the Jill Greenberg McCain photos to me.
posted by designbot at 10:21 AM on January 15, 2009


Who is the new political affairs director who is a sex machine with all the chicks: Gaspard!

On preview: Yah, he's stylin' but can he beat Robert Bauer's Dr. Whovian look?

Mcdonough and Lippet look like a super-villain/enforcer team and the new attorney general looks like he should be yelling at Sen. Clay Davis.
posted by The Whelk at 10:28 AM on January 15, 2009


people actually look like this.

This. Quoted for truth.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:31 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


false equivalence = stupid

Oh, just give me my occasional logical fallacy; anyway, maybe I'm not as stupid as you think.
posted by ford and the prefects at 11:07 AM on January 15, 2009


odinsdream, I had the same problem. Close the full screen view and hit the right arrow in the middle right of the web page to get to the pictures. Pause the dull audio. Then ask yourself, why don't they just use plain ole html for this?

I did that, and after hitting the arrow I get the black screen. I don't have speakers, so I thought maybe it was talking before showing the pictures, but I've left it that way for at least a few minutes and still just get a black area.

Three different browsers, IE7, Chrome and Firefox, all on Windows. I'll try a Mac when I get home. I've already sent them an e-mail begging them to pay someone to teach HTML.
posted by odinsdream at 11:53 AM on January 15, 2009


Funny pool report
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:07 PM on January 15, 2009


like Favreau did with Clinton

"A transition official said that Favreau had 'reached out to Senator Clinton to offer an apology.'" A poor choice of words considering that the photo is of him reaching out to grab the Clinton standup's boob.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:55 PM on January 15, 2009


Can't wait to see the after pictures - in one week, month, year, or term (or two).
posted by Man with Lantern at 1:51 PM on January 15, 2009


If you select "Browse people" at the top left, you can choose a person from the list.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:10 PM on January 15, 2009


Thanks for the link Slap*Happy.

The story behind the Churchill portrait is awsome is awesome. After you read it you may understand why this portraits suck, and Yousuf Karsh's don't. It is not just about the lighting, you know?

From the Churchill story:

I waited. Then I stepped toward him and, without premeditation, but ever so respectfully, I said, “Forgive me, sir,” and plucked the cigar out of his mouth. By the time I got back to my camera, he looked so belligerent he could have devoured me. It was at that instant that I took the photograph.
posted by dirty lies at 3:41 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Warning: I skipped a lot of the thread)

I like the photos, save for one thing: The subjects are either standing right up against the white backdrop (which would be stupid), or the white backdrop has indeed been photoshopped in (which would be insane).

Also, the "significant item" theme is extremely hackneyed. I took a lot of photo courses in university, and in every one--Every. Single. One.--somebody would have their models "bring something that defines you." Blecch. It's like going to a job interview and being asked, "If you could be any animal, what would you be?"

You know what's the best thing to take a picture of that effectively conveys a person's personality? That person.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:42 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


His speechwriting director is 27?!

Holy shit, that's impressive.

Obama's speeches during the campaign were pretty good.
posted by flippant at 4:24 PM on January 15, 2009


Also, the new head of Homeland Security is a dead ringer for my grandma. I'm not sure how to feel about that.

"What are you doing in there? Why did you lock the door?"
posted by rokusan at 10:45 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


His speechwriting director is 27?!

The great gazoogle will give you more on their relationship. Obama is very much a writer of his own speeches -- as you might expect, given that he had a very good book predating his national political career -- so Jon Favreau is more of a sounding board and polisher for the man himself.
posted by holgate at 10:55 PM on January 15, 2009


I actually really love these photos, but I'm a pretty big fan of Nadav Kander so I might be biased. For those of you saying it looks like every other "over-Photoshopped" or "ringlight" image neither of those things were done here, it's just his distinct way of lighting people. Complaining that it looks like every other magazine portrait is like complaining that the Beatles suck because every other garage band rips them off. Personally I am glad that the NYT didn't pick some sterile, boring photographer who would have lit everything super-soft and super-evenly so as not to offend anyone's delicate photographic sensibilities. Kudos to them for picking an innovative photographer like Kander who wasn't afraid to take a risk.
posted by bradbane at 9:54 AM on January 16, 2009


I've been meaning to come back to this thread, we also get the Sunday Times and in print, the pictures weren't quiet as zombified.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 12:32 PM on January 23, 2009


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