Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
August 25, 2005

Signature Issue


(click on image for larger version)

In the vacuum surrounding John Roberts, BAGreader Carolly called out this image to me and added comments.  (The photo depicts a reporter’s hand examining written samples of John Roberts’ work as an attorney in the Reagan Administration.)

Rich, warm, antique coloring… reassuring? 

But the text that is readable appears to be a legalese brush-off: dry and formal.  The white curve of the paper almost cradles the signature, which I read as assertive, with a nice patriotic 5-pointed star at the end, totally ignoring the final "s" which might hamper the boldness of the final stroke. 

This macro shot of hands and words on paper is also more intimate than most news images of explosions, hurricanes, and wrecked trains, not to mention wars engulfing entire regions, which might indicate how important those few words can be in determining what lies under that too-polished veneer.  To paraphrase slightly, "by his words, ye shall know him".  I hope so, if this is all the data we are going to have!

In particular, the BAG was interested in the signature.  I’m no graphologist, but the presence or absence of the "s" seems significant to me.  Specifically, are we looking at an example of "attenuation" — indicating someone who tends to suppress his personality and resist putting his ultimate mark on things?  Or, is that an almost sexy, stylized "s" subtlety submerged inside the "t" ?   

(Autoposted for your review while the BAG is likely toasting a marshmallow somewhere.)

(image: AP Photo/unattributed. August 19, 2005.  At

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