January 5, 2009

The First Day Of School Show

There are various of angles and implications to these Flickr/first day of school pictures posted this morning on the Obama – Biden Transition Project’s photostream.

Regarding the circumstances of the photo:

1. Not that I’m taking any issue with it, but it now appears that the Obama’s, as a group (or troupe), intend to use the still image, photo-documentary, “reality show” format to record and project key scenes in the life of the first family. Should be fun. Creating a behind-the-scenes Flickr album out of the family’s election night seemed like a one-off — or maybe, a trial balloon. Now we have a trend.

2. Whereas the election night photos were taken by Obama’s long time personal photographer and personal assistant, David Katz, Obama has dramatically stepped it up with these Hay Adams back-to-school shots, applying the considerable talent of TIME photojournalist, Callie Shell, who followed him most of the year (remember 1 , 2 , 3 ?). If there is a next time and Shell’s involved, get ready for some very personal, very warm and also strongly character-based story-telling.

(I’m particularly curious about Shell’s arrangement, by the way. Did the Obama’s actually hire her for this shoot? Are the pictures also shot for a media organization? On the other hand, if the White House is cutting the media and the newswires out of the loop on prime access, which seems more likely, what are the implications from the standpoint of media management and control?)

Regarding the content of the photo:

1. If it seems curious that Michelle, in both images she’s in, has her hands firmly in her pockets, especially in the photo kissing Malia goodbye, I would chalk it up to the fact the family is acting out a goodbye, especially when Michelle looks dressed to leave with the kids. …Perhaps Michelle, who I’ve felt, throughout the campaign, to be less interested in pretense, might be a bit less disposed toward this “reality show” idea?

2. “Team of rivals” is taking it way too far, but to the extent Obama shows off his capacity to negotiate simultaneously with close companions and do it with the best of humor (as long as he can use both hands), he’s probably ready (if overly so in this transition’s dog days) for what the West Wing can dish out.

(h/t: A_L)

(images: Callie Shell via Obama Transition via Flickr)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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