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January 22, 2009

The Immortalizers

Obama's-Pen.jpg

If the NYT found this an amusing moment to profile on Thursday’s front page — perhaps to tide us over until a one-day-old White House gets its footing — it functions symbolically, as well (at the expense of these photographers), as an indictment of the media, and its tendency to become overwhelmingly focused on the politically trivial.

(image: Doug Mills/NYT. January 21, 2009)

  • Saleema

    They look like clowns.

  • nightbird

    Funny, I thought this site honored the efforts of these “clowns”. I saw the resulting photo somewhere and it was simple and elegant. One of many photos which documented the new president’s busy 1st day. The goofy part is that it was probably one photographer’s idea and others probably said “oh yeah thats a good idea” scurried to join in. I’m quite sure this happens all the time.
    I’d say these guy’s have a great job “being there” capturing still moments of history for the rest of us to see. I choose to envy these guys not ridicule them.

  • Annonymous

    I saw this on the new york times and it just made me laugh. I loved it so much. And then I saw it on here and im glad you guys picked up on it. Not that I expected any less!

  • Karen H.

    Very amusing. If one of them thought of the shot first, I’m sure they weren’t amused. Have wonder if shoving matches every result in situations like this.

  • steve

    Which one is Curly?
    Moe is their leader.

  • Alan Chin

    there’s nothing wrong with us clowns teasing ourselves…this situation is called “goat-fucking,” in which too many photographers all try to take the same photo at the same time, usually at the expense of some poor person who happens to be having the worst day of his life. in this case it’s a pen, so no harm done, and ultimately, if i think something is worth photographing, then why should i be surprised if other photographers have the same idea, or if i’m one of those photographers…it happens all the time, as you can see. all these guys probably came out with very different photographs, believe it or not, lighting and framing and composition make all the difference. but of course it looks totally silly! which is fine.
    usually, like here, we are collegial and understand this and nobody shoves. sometimes it gets out of hand but even that is usually good-humored, although every once in a while photographers really do get angry at each other. but that is rare.

  • thomas

    I think the physically competitive and comic aspect of the shot, the focal point being an implement of power (the penis mightier than the sword, after all) and the appellation “goat-fucking” all affirm photography as the masculine corner of the visual arts.

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carl-sferrazza-anthony/first-ladies-character-to_b_160089.html yg

    you don’t want to post the new yorker image you referenced on twitter?

  • http://motherrr.blogspot.com mcmama

    Thomas, is that space missing between the words ‘pen’ and ‘is’ in your post intentional, or some sort of Freudian slip?

  • thomas

    Intentional, I’m afraid. But it seemed an appropriate context for such a bad pun.

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael (The BAG)

    yg,
    Wow, you’re really on it. I wasn’t sure how seriously to take it. Maybe tomorrow.

  • bystander

    Thanks for the background Alan Chin. There’s something about this shot has has a Norman Rockwell feel about it to me.

  • Susan Abe

    I’m seeing Rockwell, too. It’s the muted plaid fabrics — of the shirt on the guy with the suspenders and the jacket of the guy in the middle — and of course the suspenders themselves. Plus the sharpness of the hair against the backdrop.

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ yg

    via huffpo :

    somebody mentioned michelle gave laura bush a journal and pen set to commemorate her plans to write a book.
    wonder what that looked like.

  • http://www.wvablue.com/ Clem Guttata

    Why aren’t the photographers named in the NY Times caption? Instead, only the pen is?

  • Rima

    How did “goad-f***ing” get past the obscenity censor? Twice!?

  • Molly

    The result of the above picture is a nice portrait.
    I think, if the NYTimes really wants to tear apart the circus atmosphere of the media, it should focus its attention on the faux outrage on Fox as to whether Obama was “really President” after the repeat swearing ceremony where he did not *gasp* have his hand on a Bible.

  • cenoxo

    …it functions symbolically, as well…, as an indictment of the media, and its tendency to become overwhelmingly focused on the politically trivial.
    And media critics who tend to focus overwhelmingly on the symbolism of political images — are they more (or less) functionally trivial?
    The pen may be mightier than the sword, but ’tis nothing without the one who wields it. See more more Presidential pens at John Loring’s site Presidential Pens & Offerings, including this rather plain wood and steel pen

    …which was used by Lincoln I on January 1, 1863 to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. No trivial ink there, but be sure — as with all legal documents — to read between the lines.

  • Steve B.

    That photo screams “Classic Norman Rockwell composition.” Not surprised to find I’m the only one who noticed.
    Rockwell always mixed people of different shapes, ages, and types, with repetitious imagery – the three cameras – all fixated and arranged around a single, somewhat trivial moment. The presidential seal ads humor, gravitas, and a focal point to the scene. It’s also significant, because the seal is the focal point of the composition – but not of the photographers. The pen is barely even visible.

  • Steve B.

    That photo screams “Classic Norman Rockwell composition.” Not surprised to find I’m the only one who noticed.
    Rockwell always mixed people of different shapes, ages, and types, with repetitious imagery – the three cameras – all fixated and arranged around a single, somewhat trivial moment. The presidential seal ads humor, gravitas, and a focal point to the scene. It’s also significant, because the seal is the focal point of the composition – but not of the photographers. The pen is barely even visible.

  • http://nopony.blogspot.com/ ‘tude

    “…people of different shapes, ages, and types, …”
    As long as they are middle-aged white guys.

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