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63 posts categorized "Icon Watch"

Feb 15, 2010

Donald Trump Points to Can of Spray Tan, Thinks It's the Sun


Yet another deep thinker fails to understand the difference between “weather” and “climate”…..Huffington Post reports on a NY Post story claiming that Donald Trump “points to snow storms and calls for Al Gore to be stripped of his Nobel Prize.”

--Karen Hull

(Photo: AP)

Dec 26, 2009

Best of the Bag Decade: Contributors & Friends, Pt. I

(The Best of the Bag Decade is our end of the year, end of the decade look at some of the best BAGnews posts and analysis.)

The incredible contributors and friends of BAGnews make BAG unique.  BAG not only publishes original photojournalism, many times the photographers give readers vital information about context, subject matter, and events behind the image.

Part I of Best of the BAG Decade: Contributors & Friends re-posts the work of four great photographers: Alan Chin, Nina Berman, and Tim Fadek. Part II will feature the work of Lori Grinker, Mario Tama, Peter van Agtmael, Matt Lutton, and Jason Andrew.

Alan Chin

BOB1 rally palin
  1., 2.

(Click to enlarge)

BAG's talented everywhere man, Alan Chin, covered the 2008 presidential candidates for BAGnews, capturing Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Giuliani, McCain, and Palin. He was credentialed for BAGnews at the DNC Convention in Denver and shot GOP rallies (see Our Man in Pennsylvania), including the above shot of a desperate looking Palin  at a Shippensburg, PA appearance just a few days before the election.

Alan reported that Palin held her prayerful position at the podium for a full ten minutes.

Alan's coverage of the DNC Convention delivered incredible photos, including this one of Michelle, Malia, and Sasha Obama gathered onstage after Michelle Obama's speech, gesturing to a large video screen full of their husband and father:

BOB1 Obama family at convention

(Click to enlarge)

Alan caught Rudy Giuliani at a New Hampshire Segway plant (and noted the employees' lukewarm reception, something the rest of the media missed) and a haggard John Edwards on the day he dropped out of the race (with each line in his face taking on new meaning when considering his current context):

BOB1 Rudy Edwards
4., 5.

(Click to enlarge)

Why Alan's Frustrated engendered an in-depth community discussion of the disconnect between campaign-managed photo ops and the effect of the resulting photograph on the public perception of a campaign:

6., 7.

(Click to enlarge)

"[E]ven if we know these scenes are thoroughly staged, their supposed genuineness still coerces the mind into considering they still could be what they propose themselves to be.  (Of course, this is much less true with hardened media and political skeptics, like us, but the cognitive-perceptual impact on what is generally a skeptical public, I'm assuming, remains substantive.  ...Otherwise, I imagine we'd see somewhat less control.)"

BAG's point prompted one reader to remark:

The threat of being genuine -- which is a boon to a reporters -- is that the positives don't come close to the negatives. In 2004 Bush spoke only to pre-chosen crowds of supporters. No chance for anything unscripted. Repetitious soundbites and carefully tested backdrops were used and reused daily. And what did America do? Re-elected him over the guy prone for talking too much, and too often off-script.
This exchange, and many others in the post and subsequent posts, illustrates the value of community access to the photographer's context. It's what makes BAG unique.

Continue reading "Best of the Bag Decade: Contributors & Friends, Pt. I" »

Dec 23, 2009

The Best of the BAG Decade: Heavies and Heroes, Pt. I

(The Best of the Bag Decade is our end of the year, end of the decade look at some of the best BAGnews posts and analysis.)

Politicians and newsworthy figures often find themselves analogized with favorable and unflattering figures. Sometimes they do it to themselves.  The BAG archive shows many examples of creative photoshopping, opportune posing, intentional and accidental associations.  As BAG readers have noted, sometimes the end result of photoshopping says more about the maker than the intended victim.  And the opportune pose can invite unfavorable comparison.  Below are some of the BAG posts of Heavies and Heroes seen as someone or thing other than how the subject wished to be portrayed.


First up, we note the BAG posts capturing the Jokerization of political and newsworthy figures, each portraying the essence of deception and betrayal.

BOB Joker
(click for larger size) 1., 2., 3.

New York Magazine published the Madoff Joker with the stated aim of showing "Madoff as Monster." But the BAG and BAG readers noted that making Madoff so exceptional only fueled the denial that he was part of a rotting financial and regulatory system.  Marco Acevedo photoshopped Trickster McCain shortly after McCain suspended his campaign to "work" on the 2008 financial crisis.  The anonymous creator of  Obama as Joker borrowed from both Heath Ledger and Shepard Fairey in a poster that appeared during the August 2009 anti-health care reform town halls and protests.

Obama is a frequent photoshop target from the right and the left.  After the election, BAG posted (Newsweek's) Obama's Lincoln noting that "[a]fter fighting Obama's deification and glorification throughout the campaign, it seems there is little to temper that allusion now." And BAG was right, Obama was fixed with Blue Note coolness, silkscreened as Mao in a Chinese factorymorphed into Lincoln, and dropped into the middle of the Rat Pack. The  association of Obama with any number of historical and cultural figures often tells us more about the expectations surrounding the presidency and our collective relief at the end of the Bush Era.

BOB cool (click for larger size)

Clockwise from left, 4., 5., 6., 7.

Continue reading "The Best of the BAG Decade: Heavies and Heroes, Pt. I" »

Nov 18, 2009

Oprah, Sarah and the Girls


Here's the single promo shot Oprah's production company released to the media. What it shows is four women who are thoroughly experienced posing for a camera. If there is a curious element, it's the unusually tight grip Oprah has on Sarah and Willow -- reflective, perhaps, of Oprah keeping everyone close having scored the first interview of circus week. ...Not so curious, but mesmerizing, is the competing intensity for the lens Sarah and Oprah emit with those gazes. Ah, star power.

But then, I was also interested in this screen shot I grabbed from a cut-away while Willow and Piper listened to Mom discuss how the decision to accept the Veep offer -- uncharacteristically omitting the kids, Palin adds -- was made.


If you watch the video, you see how conscious Willow is of being on set, shifting her eyes, for a split second, toward the camera. And then there's Piper, who is unselfconsciously engrossed by Mom's discussion, but, in a different way, seems to recognize the stakes in all this. Considering the breezy and bemused expressions on the faces of the two other women, the tension in the Palin girls -- the most pleasing extras in the Palin Show -- is more than palpable.

(images: Harpo Productions)

Oct 31, 2009

Answer: Eclipsing Mao

Obama Mao.jpg

Question: How large an icon is Obama abroad?

(photo: David Gray/Reuters. caption: A worker washes ink from a screen print bearing an image of U.S. President Barack Obama over that of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong at a shirt printing factory in Beijing. The factory currently produces about three thousand shirts a day with the 'Oba Mao' design, hoping to have a huge stockpile in time for President Obama's mid-November visit to China)

Sep 02, 2009

Your Turn: In the Blue Room

Obama stephen hawking.jpg

(click for full size)

I'm interested in your take on this photo posted this week on the White House Flickr Stream. (Caption below and additional WHFS Presidential Medal of Freedom images here.)

(image: Pete Souza/White House. caption: President Barack Obama talks with Stephen Hawking in the Blue Room of the White House before a ceremony presenting him and 15 others the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Aug. 12, 2009. The Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor.)

Aug 29, 2009

Kennedy Funeral: The Presidents

Clintons Bushs Obamas Kennedy.jpg

Just a few random thoughts on and associations to this photo from the Kennedy funeral:

>> Rather remarkable how non-neurotic everyone looks here. Such occasions will do that.

>> I'm really struck by Bush's sensitivity. I mean, how many photos of him do you remember where he didn't look either like an impish adolescent or a guy with a chip on his shoulder?

>> I heard Poppy Bush was ill, but where's Barbara Bush?

>> I might not be completely crazy about Obama but I'm grateful, and proud as well, to see him in the "first pew" (knowing that the Clintons -- inevitably, a team and a throwback to the past -- could easily have been there instead).

>> This past week -- awash as we've been in historical images and retrospectives -- has pulled for some comparison between Jack, Bobby, Ted and Barack (especially considering how much Obama is loaded with charisma). As such, what stands out for me is how "un-Kennedyesque" Obama has been since the election. Maybe it's his relative youth, but I find him overly tight and holding back emotionally quite a bit. I equate that "chin up" expression (in this instance, at least) with someone more comfortable in his head than in his heart or belly. (Wish I knew exactly what was going on that moment because Bubba and Dubya -- perhaps finally freed to be a person -- seem to be clearly riding it.)

Your thoughts?

(image: Reuters/Brian Snyder/Reuters. Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Boston, Massachusetts. August 29, 2009)

Memorial Politics: Yes We Can

Kennedy memorial Obama.jpg

I'm sure the closing segment of the Ken Burns video retrospective at Friday's Kennedy memorial service did nothing to warm GOP hearts. Concluding with scenes of Kennedy campaigning with and for Obama, the CNN camera panned out so that the sequences on screen were juxtaposed with Kennedy's coffin -- as you see above.

Whether or not Obama's eulogy at the Kennedy funeral on Saturday particularly delves into the Senator's long-standing commitment to universal health coverage, it's impossible to expect (and foolish to protest) that Teddy -- in death, in memory and in pictures -- would somehow suddenly relinquish his identity as an advocate.

(image: Charles Dharapak/A.P. caption: An image of Sen. Ted Kennedy and President Barack Obama, part of a film produced by Ken Burns, is projected over the coffin of Sen. Edward Kennedy during a Celebration of Life Memorial Service at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Friday, Aug. 28, 2009 in Boston.

Aug 28, 2009

Your Turn: Platon's Goodbye to Ted Kennedy

Photo of Ted Kennedy on cover of TIME Magazine. Kennedy passed away this past week.

"When he buried his nephew, he echoed Yeats' words that a man should "live to comb gray hair."

It's a peculiar image that seems to pull at many threads at once, including character, health, mortality, dynasty and American politics (and reminds me how much I love what we're doing here, taking the time to look). Your thoughts?

(slightly revised 8/29 2 am PST)

(photo: Platon. Quote from TIME/The Well. Table of Contents.)

Aug 26, 2009

Kennedy's Passing: Change In Health Care Calculus, Or Same-Old, Same-Old?


Of course, the 'sphere is awash in Teddy images right now, the day after his passing. I found this one, however -- from TPM's memorial slide show -- particularly relevant.   

Going forward, the preeminent question is: what impact can and will Kennedy's passing have on the health care reform process? Given the intense experience of fraternity in the Senate, Kennedy's lifelong commitment to the issue, and his championing of a progressive way forward, can we expect a different emotional calculus now in the Congress, one which lifts members above the pettiness -- a quality Biden movingly (and perhaps even strategically) articulated that Kennedy transcended?

...Or, is the status quo so great and the Democratic will so compromised that the trajectory of the past few weeks will remain largely unaffected and the "call" in Kennedy's passing will be largely frittered away, his legacy mostly relegated to the media undertakers locked-and-loaded for a retrospective and funeral bonanza?

What's telling about this Senate hearing room photo is that Kennedy, angled off as he is, represents the inflection point. The main tension, with the quasi-Democrat Lieberman in the middle and the chameleon-like, terminally unpredictable and even occasional humanist McCain center-right, is whether the conscience and echoing presence of Kennedy will somehow shine through these men or merely bounce off.

(image: unattributed. 2008. via TPM)

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