A politician’s image and appearance has been important ever since the 1960 “Great Debate” between JFK and Richard Nixon. Now we live in a world with a constant stream of news on every possible topic. More and more getting involved in politics means giving over nearly every aspect your life to the prying eyes and scrutinizing words of the public at large. Occasionally, a photo comes into existence, whether from an organized shoot or a well-timed candid, the makes you look so fabulous it almost hurts. Then there are those with make you wish to burn every copy of a newspaper within miles and somehow instigate a cable strike. Finally there are those rare gems that are so blatantly bad for your image that even you have to throw your head back and laugh because they are that funny.
Incidentally, yes this was meant to be one big post – the good, the bad, and the WTF – but there was too much good material out there. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. Also, I’m trying to be nice (for a change) and post at least one good picture of anyone I’m posting bad ones of later.
Looking Like a Leader
Usually these photos involve flags, a sturdy and well-ornamented desk, official seals, government buildings, or some combination of those items. It works best if you’re really photogenic, but even if you’re not you might get one good one. I don’t really have much to snark at with these photos. Don’t worry. You won’t be without my witty repartee for long.
David Miliband, current UK Foreign Minister
Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State under George W. Bush
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State under Bill Clinton
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (He always looks scary!)
George W. Bush – known on this blog as “Dubya”
Looking Like an Affable Everyman/woman
If you don’t necessarily have the camera’s love on your side that doesn’t mean that your political career is over – in fact it’s often said that politics is show business for ugly people – you just have to find your look. To be honest, the “everyman” or “everywoman” isn’t so much a look as it is a required persona. Think about it. Just look back at the 2008 presidential election and point out the “average” candidate. None of them were middle class by any stretch of the imagination. They’re all rather wealthy to one extent or another. Many had been in national politics for decades. None of them are average or “normal” and yet that is how they have to look, so they show off their spouses, children, and pets, get photographed in t-shirts, baseball caps, and jeans, and say and do thing they think the rest of us say and do – with varying degrees of success. Think of Michelle Obama’s (very successful) fist-bump. When in doubt, hold someone’s baby. That usually works and I’ve expounded upon here
Not much to say really. It’s adorable.
Talk about familial! Nancy Pelosi with her husband and her new grandchild. So sweet it could give you a cavity.
The presidents Bush leaving a small church after services with their wives.
This is Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. While he certainly doesn’t look like an “everyman”, he does look very affable.
What is it about a dog that makes the person with it look so much better than they otherwise would.
Joe Biden and his puppy make a much better picture than the Vice President does on his own.
Is Nixon actually smiling?! Maybe it’s just gas.
There’s a line one has to tread carefully with regards to taking pictures with one’s spouse because you want to appear loving, like Tony and Cherie Blair, and generally want to avoid looking too sexy…
unless your last name is Clinton, apparently.
That’s bordering on too hot for the evening news! I know now that it was taken by Harry Benson but I don’t remember when that picture came out, so when I found it, it took me a minute to figure who was in the picture. I still have trouble believing that woman is Hillary Clinton.
I found this picture from 2004 vaguely reminiscent though (thankfully) far less deserving of a “Do not disturb” sign.
And there they go again. What’s stranger yet is that they’re either like this or awkwardly patting each other on the shoulder.
Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni are known for being very affectionate in public, but they are also French, so I think the rules of political PDA are different for them. This shot is very nice.
Commander and Chief
Visiting military personnel makes most politicians look good.
That’s Gordon Brown, current UK Prime Minister.
This is Angela Merkel, current Chancellor of Germany.
Yes, this is a bit older than the photos I usually use, but it’s a bit of family history. My dad was one of the sailors there. I’m not sure if he’s in the shot or not – I’ll have to ask him. I just thought it was cool.
It’s All About the Beauty of the Moment
Occasionally, some photographer will come along and, even if you are not in the least bit photogenic, they will work their magic and you will look fabulous. Sometimes it’s a big moment, a state dinner or something, but sometimes it’s just the way the light hits you. When something like this happens there is nothing to do but thank your lucky stars.
Bill Clinton is a man who tends to fairly look good in photos. His wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, does not share his luck in that department and never has. She usually looks mediocre at best, but it’s not all bad news though because, when she does take a good photo, it’s a really good one.
I love this so much about this shot – the candles, the lighting, the serene yet intense look she has on her face. It’s really lovely. This one it good, too. She looks so young in this picture. If I hadn’t found it today, I’d have thought in was from her time as First Lady.
This was all about the moment and the words. Ronald McDonald could have been there and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference as long as the speech was the same.
Think what you want to about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that picture is great.
What is it with Joe Biden? He can even get Hillary Clinton to loosen up… a little. Can’t we put that skill to use for the good of humankind?
This is current British Foreign Minister David Miliband. I think he’s kind of cute in a nerdy way so, since it’s my blog, I’m posting another picture of him.
I like him better with glasses. Just my opinion.
It’s usually a good thing to stand out in a crowd and a few politicians, usually women, take that quite literally.
Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister of Ukraine
Sometimes the guys do get in on the act, though.
US President Barack Obama, Italian President Silvio Berlusconi, and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev definitely stand out.
These are just good shots.
She looks tough, but tough is good sometimes. I’ve got a list of world leaders to whom this picture should be emailed to.
It looks like Chancellor Merkel “gets” the modern art in this exhibit in honor of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s always good to look like you “get” it.
Remember how I said that there was a saying about politics being show business for ugly people. Well, it’s not just for ugly people. This is former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
and this is former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin.
It blows my mind that Nancy Pelosi is pushing 70 and her husband’s around that age too. Even with some surgical assistance, it’s hard to believe.
One shot where he looks more like a leader and less like a character on That Mitchell and Webb Look
Black & White
Sometimes a black and white photo can make you look better than any color one can.
Yes, black and white can make you look great…
… but it can’t work miracles. Yeah, I’ve had enough of being nice, it’s time to laugh at these people.