Mundo Obama: Inside the Glamorous White House Photo Op

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I especially like it when the lady photographer says, “I thought we were walking?” As Steve says, tongue in cheek, “I know, that’s odd.” and the herd pool stormtroops the oval office for their 30 seconds of opportunity.  How well I remember those days. Good times!
Note the lingering on the phone in the Oval, methinks someone was trying to look up the speed dial! The final image with the carpet’s happy beams of light hitting  a smiling Obama & Biden while the Treas. Secretary looks sour tells the whole story for me.

Seen on Assignment


This  may not be an incredible picture, but the sad fact is it’s so much better than the photograph I was assigned to make on the same street (of something completely unrelated).  I saw this tree sitting there and I immediately thought of Kevin Miyazaki.  Kevin’s work is actually more macro then this, but the same principles of minimalism and graphics apply.  He channels Irving Penn a bit when he makes mold look good.  This photograph is why I try not to look at other photographers’ work too much, because I can be a sponge, a mimic, a monkey (my chinese new year sign). Thanks a pantload Kevin!

Seriously lately I have found myself taking way too many pictures of inanimate objects (which is not MY trope), and even sneaking a parking lot in here and there.  I’m losing my mo-jo and I just hope I can find it when I head down to Peru in a couple weeks to work on a project I started last year (and still can’t show b/c it’s embargoed) about Peruvian coastal life.  Yet soon all will be clear my pretties, very soon!

Making the Photo-Book: Deluxe & Populist

Stacy Oborn over at The Space in Between has a great post featuring Elijah Gowin and James Luckett on two very different ways to approach the making of a photobook. It’s definitely worth a cup of Joe and good sit-down.

Contest: Europe & Asia a Dialogue of Cultures

Received news of a contest from The Photography  Development Fund (Yekaterinburg) and The Museum of Photography Metenkov House which invites professional photographers and amateur to take part in the International Photography Contest “Europe and Asia – Dialogue of Cultures”. (deadline in March)  Grand Prize is $3,000 – so if you’ve got work on this theme might behoove you to check it out. Good Luck!

Are Your Goals Ego-Driven or Heart-Driven?

My google-reader has a few non-photo centric blogs in it, health, design, quotes from Flannery O’Connor, all serve to distract and inspire. One, Zen Habits, had a humdinger of a post today with the tantalizing title: The Secret to being Insanely Creative. You can check it out here. Note: If like me, you are both insane and creative – it may not follow that you are insanely creative per se.  Read & Ponder!

Work in Progress: DC


Mother & Child, H Street SE, Washington, DC  © Susana Raab 2009

So I’m starting this new project in my hometown and to make things more difficult for myself I am shooting it on 4×5 chrome.  It’s super fun and really frustrating, but it’s making me a better photographer, b/c when you shoot digital for 99% of your commissioned work, it’s easy to get lazy.  I just got an attachment to sync my qflash with the 4×5 so I’ll be able to open up the shadows better but I gotta always remember about blowing out those whites on chrome.  Why chrome? I love those blacks. I hate contact sheets. It’s hard. I like challenges. I’m stupid. I had five boxes of it in my freezer.

I saw this young mom walking down the street with her daughter and asked them to pose for me.  We spent about ten minutes together, and I could tell that she was a really good mom.  She was respectful but firm yet loving with her daughter.  I felt a lot of love towards them both.  I get strong feelings about people while I am photographing them, and I was feeling nothing but high-key being with them.  I can’t wait to send her some prints.

When I finished shooting some man walked up to me and said that he had heard me mention that someone was paying me a lot of money to shoot these people, and why was I putting her in such an ugly location.  I replied that he certainly had not heard me say the former because it simply wasn’t true,  – (the day I start making a lot of money selling prints is certainly the day I will share my good fortune with people like this mother & child ).  I also said that I thought the location was beautiful. He told me that I never would have put a white person in that location.  I was angry and frustrated.

It was right after the election – I lost my temper and said something about how I was sorry that racism was still alive in this country and you don’t have to be white to practice it.  I believe I also called him a jackass.  I was heartily ashamed of myself immediately afterwards.  But some dude walked out of my favorite fish-fry place outside of which this altercation had been taking place and said, “That’s right, Sis – you tell him.  Sometimes we all just got to tell ’em like it is.”  This made me feel a lot better, but I was still ashamed of losing my temper.  Especially because the experience of photographing them had been a real gift of sharing and I felt like I had just besmirched it.  I was wrong, and so was he.  And we all know about two wrongs.

I should also mention, that when I am shooting for a client it wouldn’t even be a question of responding, as I appreciate very much the fact that I am representing, so to speak, and take that quite seriously.  Yet there I was, very much on my own dime, trying to start a project about connections, being tested and failing.  It is a lesson learned.

I’d love to know what you all think. Was my choice of location indicative of racial typecasting?  For me it was there, where we were, and I love urban decay.

Halloween 2008




© Susana Raab (from the series Two Sarah Palins, One Todd Palin, and One Barack Obama)

Last political post for the quarter, promise.