Thursday, January 22, 2009

Faces Tell The Story, II

Back in November, I wrote that on election night, "the story of this point in our nation's history is told in the faces of its people." In Washington on Inauguration Day, on the Mall as President Obama took the oath of office, that story continued. I was near the Washington monument; I talked to a photographer who was high on the Capitol with a view of the crowd, and who told how he was moved to tears at the sight of all those people who came from everywhere in the country to stand out in freezing cold and lend their presence to the event. It was a privilege to be there.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Farewell to the Bald Guy

"The Bald Guy" — that's how my sons refer to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, whom I've been assigned to photograph often over the last 2 1/2 years, first in relative obscurity, then in anything but (see "Page 1" from this past fall).

Economists and politicians will debate whether Mr. Paulson responded appropriately to the economy's sudden unraveling, though he certainly moved quickly and modified his views on the free market in the process. But I can say for certain his range of facial expressions was well-suited to a time of economic crisis.

Yesterday, probably the last time I'll photograph Mr. Paulson as Treasury secretary, he was speaking not about troubled assets and frozen credit but about climate change. That's only the second time I remember hearing a cabinet-level Bush administration official talk on the subject. (The other time the secretary of the interior, Dirk Kempthorne, was discussing the decision to list polar bears as threatened because polar ice is melting - but he insisted there is no causal link between the melting ice and CO2 emissions in the lower 48 states. I found this a little hard to follow.)

So it might seem an odd subject for Time magazine's runner-up as Person of the Year to give a valedictory on. But not for Mr. Paulson - a dedicated birder, his enviro credentials include chairing the board of the Nature Conservancy and leading Goldman Sachs (where he was chairman before moving to Treasury) to take environmental positions that are well ahead of most businesses, and certainly ahead of the administration he's served.

Yesterday Mr. Paulson refused to be drawn into any criticism of the administration's record on climate change, joking he'd made it 2 1/2 years without going off-message and that he was not about to derail with only eight days left. So here's hoping the "Bald Guy" does well in his next gig, hopefully one where he can speak his mind more freely.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What's in the Frame

Photographers learn early on that the only thing that really counts is what's in the frame. It doesn't matter what you intended, your bright idea, the story behind it all. If it's not in the picture, it's not in the picture.

That's usually a sad lesson. But it can have an upside, too.

Consider this photo. I'd put a bluish light on the floor behind Alan I. Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, intending to light the bookcase behind him as if from the skylight above. Instead, the effect was much stronger on the carpet, which I hadn't thought about lighting at all.

But I shot a few frames, looked at the results, and said, "That works too." I'll gladly take credit for it. After all, what matters is what's in the photo, whether or not it's what I intended!

(By the way, this marked the start of the new year with two magazine covers for two clients in one day - one morning, really. Let's hope the rest of 2009 keeps pace. Happy New Year!)