Thursday, November 26, 2015

Just One More

President Obama's "Meet N Greet" Smile

Just One More


I've talked before about the White House posting President Barack Obama's photos on flicker, but over the weekend, I came across a fascinating set on the State Department's page.

Last Wednesday, the President and First Lady hosted a reception at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, during which they posed for individual photographs with all the visiting foreign dignitaries in town for the UN meeting.

You can click on each picture for the names and countries of each world leader. I wondered if Official White House photographer Lawrence Jackson had to ask each one, "Do you have a card, your Royal Highness? I just want to make sure I spell your name right." Or whose job was tougher; his or the president's? "Sorry, your Excellency, I think you blinked in that one." Viewers have even tagged some of the photos with notes about wives' shoes.

I didn't really flip through ALL 134 photos, but what brought me to the site in the first place was this twenty second time lapse video made by Eric Spiegelman. He noted the President "has exactly the same smile in every single shot," and aligned all the photos to dramatically show Obama's"amazingly consistent smile."

I'm sure you could do the same thing with any celebrity who has to do "Meet and Greets." I saw something similar on the web a few years ago with Paris Hilton at a perfume (or book?) signing. I guess the rich and famous need to produce a photo-ready smile when called upon.

Spiegelman himself said on his blog, "my sense is that every president of the 20th century was capable of this. But Obama is the only one who put all his photos on the Internet, so he's the only one we can prove has this skill."

The images aren't in the order shot, and I didn't open all  of them, but making a random check of the EXIF data on a few of the photos I found one made as early as 7:05pm and one taken as late as 8:16pm. So Jackson was shooting at a pretty healthy clip himself. (Also on the EXIF: he used a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, shooting at 1/200 th second at f/5.6 with a mid-range zoom).

As if that's all not enough, the other fascinating thing I found? There were originally the 135 group photos, but one was removed by the White House after causing a bit of a stir in Spain. Unlike Obama, the Spanish president/prime minister is fiercely private about his children's lives. So the public had never before seen pictures of his 13 and 16 year old daughters. Many were surprised by their goth appearance. Madrid's oldest newspaper, Dario ABC ran the photo (credited to "CASA BLANCA") with the girls' faces pixelated. White House officials withdrew the family photograph after the Spanish Government asked them "to protect the privacy of the two daughters of the Spanish president, for being underage.”


Inquirer Staff Photographer
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About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

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Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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