Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
May 28, 2010

Obama Hits the Beach

President Obama Tours Oil Spill Area In Gulf

I was interested in your take on this photo-op of Obama’s second visit to the Gulf.

The scene looks deceptively simple, but these things are never that easy and obvious to get right. If you watch the video clip at CNN, Obama is actually quite tense and controlling about getting the right message out, speaking for Admiral Allen about how many ways the oil, once its hits shore, is being cleaned up; stage directing the cameras; spouting other talking points; etc.  The key to this, however, is the picture — not the words, and not the video.

Certainly, having Obama physically getting his hands on the oil and touching the problem was a smart thing (at the same time, picking a spot where there’s so little tar, it also plays down the fallout).  The shots where he’s framed alone — again, not by accident — lends a degree of intimacy that counters the fact he’s the head of a massive bureaucracy that is largely impotent to stem the crisis.

As a way to wrap a disastrous week (better appreciated if you saw our Week in Review), the photo-op might stem some of the anger and frustration that’s tarring the White House. But then, that’s good for a day.

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