Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
January 31, 2008

John Edwards: Parting View


(click for full size)

Yesterday, I had my say on the Edwards withdrawal.  Today, I want to share this photo by Alan Chin taken at the announcement in New Orleans on Tuesday.

Chin writes:

The scene was cold, and the ground wet and muddy. The Habitat For Humanity staff and volunteers were expecting Edwards to make a “major speech on poverty,” as had been billed, but instead he came to throw in the towel. He did so with a certain dignity and eloquence: “It’s time for me to step aside so that history can — so that history can blaze its path.”

Having covered him often and having been here so often, I was impressed, despite my usual cynicism, with the deliberate choice of both beginning and ending his bid for the Presidency amidst houses still destroyed from Hurricane Katrina.  By the contemporary standards of American political life, he had run a decent and spirited campaign.

I invite you to open the image and really look at it.  I find it a fitting portrait and parting view.

The weathered look not only contradicts the ascribed pretty boy aura, but seems to capture the edge of a weariness guaranteed to descend after unplugging from of the perpetual adrenaline rush of the campaign.  I have to also say, he looks like he really gives a damn, above and beyond any shallow debate regarding any need or reflex to continue to look like he does.

I think there are a several other elements here that are also powerful, which I leave to you to excavate.

(image: © Alan Chin.  Ninth Ward of New Orleans, La.  January 30, 2008.  Used by permission)

About the Photographer

Alan Chin

Alan Chin was born and raised in New York City’s Chinatown. Alan Chin was born and raised in New York City’s Chinatown. Since 1996, he has worked in China, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, and throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. In the US, Alan has explored the South, following the historic trail of the civil rights movement and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, covered multiple presidential campaigns, and the Occupy Wall Street movement. He is a contributing photographer to Newsweek/Daily Beast and The New York Times, a member of Facing Change: Documenting America (FCDA), and an editor at You can see all Alan's posts for BagNews here.

Comments Powered by Disqus

Originals Archive Archives