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September 29, 2012

I Love Ann

The challenge is reducing the campaign — in this case, the “stretch drive” — down to 8 photos. That’s our mission for the next BagNewsSalon to be held a week from Wednesday night at Columbia Journalism School. One of the photos in the mix is this one published for the first time this week. Paul Moakley, the deputy photo editor of TIME uncovered it, and provides this backstory, the gist being that Romney and friends made this photo in ‘68 when he was doing missionary work in France.

One thing that’s interesting about the TIME post: Whereas you assume from the write-up that the purpose of the photo was to win Ann’s heart (“…it was playfully staged for his high school girlfriend and soon-to-be wife, Ann Davies.”), the article continues:

“The pictoral gesture worked. Davies joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prior to marrying Romney in 1969….”

Written that way, it’s not clear if the purpose of the photo was to win Ann’s heart or win her conversion. Or, maybe it was both.

In any case, while the comments in the TIME thread do battle over Romney’s missionary work during the Vietnam War, I’m more interested in the meaning and effect of this photo emerging now. If the intent was to further humanize Romney, giving us a more three-dimensional view of his life and, above all, a greater appreciation of the depth of his heart, it seems the overriding impact of the photo, at this late date, is to amplify how much these qualities have yet to come across.

(photo: Courtesy of Mitt Romney via Time Lightbox caption: Romney in France circa 1968. He made a series of photographs for Ann with the help of his friends while serving as a Mormon missionary in France.)

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