Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
October 17, 2008

Sedona 2000

Kennerlymccain



If “The Phoenix” goes down on November 4th, we can look back at McCain’s presidential run as not just two-year odyssey but a ten-year one.  The significance of this scene, with its aspiration as huge as the West, is that it marks the first day of John and Cindy McCain’s 2008 campaign.

Here is the accompanying text to Pulitzer prize winning photographer David Hume Kennerly’s image up for auction for the benefit of the International Center For Journalists.  (The on-line bidding closes November 10th, and the exhibition runs through November 1st at the Paley Center for Media in New York.) 

“If Ansel Adams did political photography, this shot would be it,” says Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist David Hume Kennerly.  “It truly shows what I believe is the showmanship of politics.”  In a midmorning press conference on March 9, 2000, John McCain announced that he was bringing his U.S. presidential campaign to a halt.  Kennerly captured the “steadfast, not dejected” McCain, with his wife, Cindy, by his side, as he ended his fight with George W. Bush for the Republican Party’s nomination.

“To me, this announcement was for the press, not the people,” says Kennerly.  “It was a well-timed conference, and McCain was very matter-of-fact.  The best part was the announcement in front of the majestic Sedona landscape.”  Kennerly places McCain in the center of the photo to contrast the smallness of the candidate with the vastness of his surroundings.  “Sometimes I refer to this image as Phoenix rising,” says Kennerly. “It was the end of his run in 2000, but obviously not the end of his presidential quest.”

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