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Pete Souza
January 16, 2009 9:00 PM   Subscribe

"[I] accepted the offer today after...reaching an agreement that the primary function of the White House photography office will be to document Obama's presidency for the sake of history."

Last week, Obama named Pete Souza the official White House photographer. Souza has been following Obama as he rose to the presidency, and since being hired has published the first official portrait of Obama.
posted by ztdavis (43 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm glad Obama won. I don't like this... yeah, metafipopular Stalinism.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:04 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pretty cool, but I just assumed that this one was the one they'd use, since it was seen more often than others. Better picture too, IMO.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 9:10 PM on January 16, 2009


Also, not terribly incidentally, it was the first "official" presidential portrait taken with a digital camera.
posted by ztdavis at 9:17 PM on January 16, 2009


Except "that one" is in front of his old office...
posted by TheGoldenOne at 9:17 PM on January 16, 2009


A flag lapel pin? Come *on*.
posted by ooga_booga at 9:19 PM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


And he's not wearing a flag pin.
posted by yhbc at 9:19 PM on January 16, 2009


Um, in the one that Seekerofsplendor and TheGoldenOne were talking about. Obviously, he IS wearing a flag pin in the real one (the one that ooga_booga is talking about) ...

I'll stop now.
posted by yhbc at 9:21 PM on January 16, 2009


A flag pin would be metafipopular Stalinist.
posted by Mblue at 9:21 PM on January 16, 2009


I find that portrait a bit disconcerting, to be honest. I have dealt with hundreds of biographies (which generally include pictures) of U.S. government officials over the last 8 years or so, but I can't remember more than a handful where the official is not in the center of the frame. I would imagine that it's on purpose, as it makes the photo much more lively and interesting. That said, I think the one Seekerofsplendor linked is a much better and even more interesting portrait, and I wish they would use it instead.
posted by gemmy at 9:24 PM on January 16, 2009


ooga_booga: "A flag lapel pin? Come *on*."

?

I wish they would use it instead.

Way too casual. This is for official head of state business. Dude with nukes in his pocket.
posted by stbalbach at 9:28 PM on January 16, 2009


Thanks for the link to Pete Souza's gallery, ztdavis. The photo of Obama walking through O'Hare reminds me of spotting him and a few aides in the same concourse back in 2005.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:28 PM on January 16, 2009


No, that would be the 39th metafipopular Stalinist
posted by Dumsnill at 9:28 PM on January 16, 2009


(It's not the politics, it's the neverendig kitcsch)
posted by Dumsnill at 9:30 PM on January 16, 2009


O c's

why so many
posted by Dumsnill at 9:31 PM on January 16, 2009




I wonder if his ears play any part in the off-center decision here; perhaps centering it would make too much of a symmetrical effect that would overemphasize his ears.

And I'm no design expert at all, so I can't put it into the fancy words, but perhaps there is a psychological element in that his not being the center reflects that he doesn't want to convey that it's all about him. Bush's head, in his official portrait, looks huge in comparison; maybe that's figurative (literally...hehe) as well as literal.
posted by troybob at 10:07 PM on January 16, 2009


Gallery of Time magazine's Fifteen Barack Obama covers.
posted by Sailormom at 10:08 PM on January 16, 2009


I have dealt with hundreds of biographies (which generally include pictures) of U.S. government officials over the last 8 years or so, but I can't remember more than a handful where the official is not in the center of the frame.

Really? Look at these: George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford.

(Before anyone accuses me of not acknowledging Democrat Presidents, Clinton and Carter both are well-centered in their portrait.)
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:08 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Really? Look at these.

Yea, really. Most of the bios I deal with, the people look like in these DoD leader pics. That's the standard pose - centered, up close. Even the ones showing the full upper body and hands are fairly rare. And it only gets more standardized the lower you get on the org chart - at the DAS (Deputy Assistant Secretary) level, it's pretty much just that standardized pose in front of a flag.
posted by gemmy at 10:23 PM on January 16, 2009


Yea, really. Most of the bios I deal with, the people look like in these DoD leader pics.

It's quite funny, then, that Republican Presidents (and Obama!) wander off the right side of the portrait. Obama is a stealth Republican? You heard it here first, folks.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:26 PM on January 16, 2009


That's a very ugly picture. The lighting is way too harsh. The tie is horrendous. I can do better with my crappy Canon Powershot.
posted by monospace at 10:48 PM on January 16, 2009


Monospace I hope to god you're making a joke and I'm just missing it.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:06 PM on January 16, 2009


No joke. He's quite a photogenic man but that picture is just awful.
posted by monospace at 11:32 PM on January 16, 2009


I like both photos. I don't find it ugly. I think it's pretty deep, textured and nuanced photp, with many readings possible depending on your focus. It's both friendly and grave, for example.

And yeah, off-center with the flag is a pretty standard Official Presidential Photograph trope, as Doc Elvis points out.

(Sometimes perspective is just perspective.)
posted by rokusan at 11:48 PM on January 16, 2009


Those aren't portraits, Gemmy. Those are headshots.

They're for identification, not history. They're (slightly) different things, communicatively.
posted by rokusan at 11:49 PM on January 16, 2009


I agree entirely with monospace - the official portrait is crap photography.
posted by twsf at 12:41 AM on January 17, 2009


At least they didn't go with whoever did these. Which must have been some Republican photographer's revenge for this.
posted by various at 1:03 AM on January 17, 2009


There's a better portrait of Obama in the middle of this page.
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:26 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why this picture is a good presidential picture:
1. Obama is in it
2. A Very formal and patriotic pose
3. Honesty it skin texture and tone

Why this picture is a bad picture:
1. The neck line is all kinds of messed up. Its not that the president isn't centered in the picture, its that his left shoulder is more in the foreground than his right shoulder. Because of his height and build, photagraphing him with his body rotated 10-15 degrees effectively forces the base of his neck to then stretch and be accentuated. If there is one thing tall scrawny guys don't need its an accentuated neck.
2. The flag is too far back. Fuzzy is fine, but when I can measure Obama's ear size as two stars + some bars it makes them look even bigger. Once again, I don't think the official presidential campaign is going for the large ear look. (Though Mad magazine might be.)
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:33 AM on January 17, 2009


I like the official president one and don't like the other one (which I believe is his official Senate photo). The cowboy hat photo would've been good, too.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:52 AM on January 17, 2009


Best comment from link-5:
I think it is interesting that he is not in the center of the picture. In fact, it appears that he is leaning a bit to his left.

posted by K.P. at 6:09 AM on January 17, 2009


Official schmofficial. The photos of Obama visiting former nuclear missile sites (in Russia, I think) are amazing. Here is the gallery; you have to flip through to find the ones I'm talking about. You'll know you're there when you say to yourself, "holy crap, that is amazing looking."
posted by nosila at 7:43 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it be great if we used a photo of Obama with his daughter as the official portrait? Think what that'd say, that our President is a normal father and cares about people.
posted by Nelson at 8:33 AM on January 17, 2009


I just wonder why there's a super high resolution photo, and if you're going to get that up close and personal, why they didn't hook him up with a lint roller. I swear I see a personal hair under the flag pin.
posted by Andrew Brinton at 8:46 AM on January 17, 2009


If we're going to use Obama with his daughter, then we must, for great justice, use one of the ones on the bumper cars. 1 2
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:08 AM on January 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


Ha! He is totally having more fun than the kid.
posted by nosila at 9:51 AM on January 17, 2009


Identification indeed. Neutral gray background for accurate skin tones.
posted by not applicable at 10:00 AM on January 17, 2009


ROU_Xenophobe I swear that the pix of Obama on the bumper cars were probably worth one or two percent all by themselves.

monospace You aren't alone, my wife took one look at the official portrait and went on for about five minutes on the subject of how incredibly awful it was. But apparently you and she are in the minority. I don't think its an amazingly great photo, but I see nothing wrong with it. Except, of course, for the flag pin of surrender Obama is wearing.
posted by sotonohito at 11:36 AM on January 17, 2009


The chiaroscuro effect seems to subtly emphasise the biracial heritage of the president. It's not my favourite photo / image of him (I like the one done by the Obey the Giant guy and used on the campaign posters the most), but it's got a hidden depth.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 12:44 PM on January 17, 2009


nosila writes "Official schmofficial. The photos of Obama visiting former nuclear missile sites (in Russia, I think) are amazing. Here is the gallery; you have to flip through to find the ones I'm talking about. You'll know you're there when you say to yourself, 'holy crap, that is amazing looking.'"

All of those are very good. I can see why Obama picked him, but it seems he might be better at b/w photojournalism than color portraiture.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:00 PM on January 17, 2009


I like Alex Grey's portrait.
posted by muckster at 4:45 PM on January 17, 2009


I like Alex Grey's portrait.

Clearly the fifth-dimension energy lizards that live at the base of the world-spine would never let him use that one.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 11:20 PM on January 17, 2009


*snap* *snap* *snap*
Ignore me doing this. Ignore me doing this.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:23 PM on January 17, 2009


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