October 20, 2005

Your Turn: They Don't Mug Like They Used To



When your mandate is to keep tabs on the political images of the day, people come to expect you’ll snag the more prominent ones.

Maybe this shot is showing up "left and right" (or, at least, "left and far left") today.  Putting it up on the BAG, however, means it must automatically be subjected to a semiotic "once (or twice) over" by a growing community of insightful visual/political/cultural interpreters.  So it’s "just" a portrait, you say?  Well, there’s no such thing around here.

…Of course, it’s a mug shot.  And that’s where the whole can of worms gets opened up.  (Redstate.org starts off the analysis here.)


UPDATE 10/21/05 1:40 pm PST:  With all the great commentary so far, it seems only fitting to toss in the other classic photo this week.  Because we don’t often get them this good, why not?  Feel free to analyze the two shots separately, or comparatively.


(click here to inspect the full size/full resolution version at whitehouse.gov)

(I’m still leaving the interpreting in your able hands, but I had to say a couple things.  Of course, as already mentioned in the thread, the body language is wonderful — as is the unusually generous use of space at top and bottom, and the positioning of the human stars relative to the emblem.  …I’m not sure, but I think those flowers are fake.  If not, they have quite a supply, because I’ve been looking at that exact arrangement for years now.  Keep in mind, by the way, that we’re looking through a fish eye.)

(image 1: Harris County Sheriff’s Office/Handout/Reuters. October 20, 2005. Via YahooNews.  Caption: Former House Majority leader Tom DeLay in his Harris County Sheriff’s Office booking photograph. DeLay, who posted a $10,000 bond and was released near midday, evaded the press corps that had gathered at the courthouse in his home district outside Houston.  image 2:  AFP/HO October 20, 2005. Via YahooNews. Caption: In this photo released by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, US Representative Tom Delay, Republican of Texas, is shown in a booking photo taken in Houston, Texas. The former Republican head of the House of Representatives spent less than 30 minutes at the sheriff’s office, in the Houston suburbs, during which he posted a 10,000 USD bail bond, was fingerprinted and photographed, officials said.) image 3:  Eric Draper/White House. Oct. 19, 2005. White House. Caption: President George W. Bush and Bono discuss global AIDS and Africa policy in the Oval Office … following lunch in the White House.)

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.


Comments Powered by Disqus