I was looking through online photo galleries following the campaigns of Presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain and found these two interesting photos from earlier in the the year of rallies for Obama. I find that these two photos incorporate interesting viewpoints, depths of field, and graphical elements to convey very similar messages and capture powerful moments.

In class, we discussed the importance of hands and how they convey deeply human messages to the viewer. In the first photo, Obama is greeting his supporters with handshakes. The outstretched hands attempting to touch Obama convey to the viewer a sense of urgency and need to be a part of Obama’s crusade for change. The viewer becomes a participant in the photo due to the perspective; the photographer was on the ground level with Obama supporters, allowing the viewer of the photo to experience the moment from a similar perspective as those actually in attendance of the rally. The camera angle also creates symbollism by looking up at Obama as if he were a hero.

The second photo of the crowd at Obama’s Berlin speech in July creates a different mood and feeling for the viewer. The photographer was obviously far away from the subject, and located above the stage upon which Obama is standing. The hands in this photo are not visible individually, however the pattern of cheering hands and claps in the crowd convey the sense of unified support conveyed through the first photo. Obama’s body language is completely different than in the first; rather than bending toward his supporters to make himself accessible to the common man, Obama is clearly on stage in front of a great mass of people and is commanding their attention as he points off frame to an abstract ideal. The distance between photographer and subject, however, diminishes a difference in scale between Obama and his supporters; he appears to be almost the same size and thus still conveys the sense of sameness between he and his supporters as seen in the first photo.

These moments were not staged, but they weren’t accidents either. From reading the Kobre textbook and experimenting with photography myself, I know that the photographers in each situation conducted preliminary searches of the environment to identify innovative and useful shooting locations and angles. The photographer in the second photo discovered a high, far off location from which to take photos; he or she predicted that this would be useful because of the anticipated size of the crowd. A photo from this distance with a small crowd in front of Obama would not have the same effect or emphasis as this image has. The same can be said for the first photo; the photographer saw an interesting photo opportunity in the form of the stage’s catwalk-like extension into the crowd. The stage extension was constructed so that Obama could interact with his supporters and the photographer anticipated this behavior by first examining and experimenting with the environment before the scheduled rally began.

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