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November 21, 2009

In The Religion Section

Palin Going Rogue Tour.jpg

Longtime BAGnewNotes reader “RubberNecker” writes:

I came across an interestingly composed photo of a Palin book signing event published on her Facebook feed.

If you notice, the signs in the bookstore that denote the sections make a perfect commentary on her book. She is signing in the “Religion” section, and at the top, receding into the distance, are other categories of the book that seem to decrease in proximity to Palin as they decrease in relevance to her book. “History and Politics,” then “Biography,” and then “Literature.”

Also interesting to me is that in the religion section the only two visible subsections are both “Christianity.” The features of this photo are made all the more interesting in that it was put out by her people, and not composed intentionally.

I would just add that the photo is by Shealah Craighead, a former Bush White photographer and also Palin’s photographer during the McCain campaign. The fact she’s attached to the book tour site says a lot about this current campaign.

(caption: A bird’s eye view of Gov. Sarah Palin talking with Americans and signing her book “Going Rogue” at Borders bookstore during the third “Going Rogue” book signing event Thursday, November 19, 2009, in Noblesville, IN.)

  • mcmama

    Or it was composed intentionally.

  • Kathryn in MA

    Seconded – it WAS composed intentionally. There is no other reason to have all that space at the top of the photo if not to include that sign, and (2), the edge of the photo is carefully aligned with the edge of the sign.

  • Samantha

    The shot has nice depth and composition. It appears like an ordinary book signing, but then you notice certain things. Like the 2 girls in line who are fixated on their subject and estatic over getting a few steps closer to the table. The “author’s” back is turned, but even with this plain, partial shot of Sarah, her celebrity comes through. The woman assisting Sarah with the books is physically similar – white, middle aged, slim, dark hair pulled back, wearing long sleeves. But there’s no confusing the two, of course. One is regal, one is not. The lumpy, grey-haired woman talking to Sarah underlines that regalness as she is almost bowing, keeping her hands to herself, and speaking softly and carefully to the guest at the table.

  • bystander

    Good eye and great catch, RubberNecker.

  • Serr8d

    No, it wasn’t composed intentionally. If so, the photog would’ve used a smaller aperture to keep sharper focus on the so-called ‘receding’ signs.
    It looks to me as if the photog was trying to peek down the assistant’s dress! That’s one of the prominent focal points, if you’re thinking with ‘rule of thirds’ in mind.
    And the length of the line is another. Sarah seems almost an afterthought. Because, since she’s representing the AntiObama, Sarah could be just about…anyone…who had a strong conservative bent, and a popular appeal.

  • Samantha

    I agree that the winding line was the focus for the photog, as the end of the line as well as the stretched out table beyond Sarah is included. None of that was cropped out. I think including the religion sign was deliberate, but only a bonus message, as some height and light was necessary at the top of the photo, to avoid the dark bookshelves and interior of the room from overwhelming the image.

  • nordemend

    my vote is “intentionally composed”. it’s by a professional photographer, for starters!! and as “kathryn in ma” noted, the signs on the ceiling are pretty integral to the framing.
    given that this photo is 100% available light, a smaller aperture would have necessitated a slower shutter speed, which introduces camera shake and people movement-blur issues. i think you can see a hint of movement-blur in the hands, book and coat of the woman exiting frame left, so even one stop wider and you have double the time, double the blur.
    all in all, a good photo in a difficult setting – visually very busy, toppy lighting, lots of white and lots of black. (colors, that is…).

  • Cary

    Nice dissection of the frame. Also, what’s up with that red bucket below the table? Trash can? Cans of soda on ice?

  • Apple

    Photog works for the book tour. Keep in mind whose group the photo was composed FOR. Religion and long lines would be a plus to boost sales. Don’t assume ‘receding’ signs are important at all to the target group. Almost everyone is looking at Palin, including the woman in red at the front who seems to be bowing reverentially. Can’t see how Palin is in any way an afterthought, particularly since copies of her book with it’s now well-known cover are all over the table.

  • doranb

    I think there’s little doubt the static elements are intentionally composed in the photo. Indeed, even the order in which the receding topics appear highlights the Palin agenda. I’m sure she is as much a religious figure to her fans as a political one.

  • Clem Guttata

    A few observations
    - I think the picture is cropped primarily with the intent to make the crowd look as big as possible… once you do that, it’s hard to stop anywhere before “Religion.” At first glance it appears to be a line snaking its way out the door and/or out to a crowd back somewhere. At closer appearance, there may as few as 8 people in line with others just kind of hovering about or walking up to the scene while actually, you know, shopping for books at a book store.
    - I’m struck by how white the crowd is. There must be some non-Caucasians in Indiana. Did they stay away from Borders that day?
    - The older gentleman in the leather jacket reminds me of John McCain. From what I’ve heard, much of her book is about settling scores with McCain campaign staff. The picture evokes putting Sen. McCain in his place, too, perhaps?

  • Scarabus

    Obviously the considerations overlap, but it might be worth considering independently the staging of the event and the composing of the photo. Coincidence that they put the table just there?
    Might also be worth considering independently the “production” and “post-production” phases of the photography project. The best camera is the one you have with you. The best vantage point is the one that’s available to you. The best focal length is the one encouraged/forced by the vantage point.
    Back in the studio you can do all sorts of cropping and filtering, including messing with the apparent aperture selection, focal length, and perspective.

  • yg

    normally they’re burning books.

  • Aurora

    What you said…

  • yg


  • Johnson

    Turns out Mayor Bloomberg was hiding the pictures of him and Palin:

  • Molly

    This ^^^^ last comment settles the question, I think!!

  • Molly

    The one BEFORE Johnson *shakes fist at bad timing*.

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