Politics: Prettier When Pictured

President Obama conducts interviews in the Map Room 3/30/09. Official White House Photo by Pete Souz Some photographs, instead of illustrating the news, are designed to make news. Given the speed at which photographic images can be distributed, the audiences they reach, and the attention they command, it’s no surprise that politicians plan their visuals as carefully as they craft their words. In the 19th century, Abraham Lincoln adopted a presidential pose for the photograph, widely circulated on carte-de-visites, that is often credited with winning him the election of 1860. Some weeks ago, President Obama made a post-midnight trip to Dover Air Force Base to be photographed saluting coffins containing the remains of US soldiers killed overseas as they were unloaded off transport planes, signaling a 180 degree turnaround from the imaging politics of George Bush’s administration. Living in an image–saturated culture, where the ways photographs are planned, shot, and manipulated are now routinely discussed, we invited Kiku Adatto, author of Picture Perfect: Life in the Age of the Photo Op, to look at how photographic images are designed and constructed to change political discourse and presidential history. Read Kiku Adatto's entire click! piece.

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