Monday, September 15, 2008

The "Art" of Politics

So what do you do when you're running a magazine and need a photo of a Candidate for Presidential Office? Naturally, you call a known freelance photographer to head out to the candidate's location and shoot them.

What happens, though, when you choose someone who is known for a very vocal and left leaning slant to shoot a right winger? Well, were we talking about your normal freelance photographer, who knows a little something about professionalism and earning the money they're trying to make, there wouldn't be a problem. Instead, this week, the Atlantic Monthly contracted Jill Greenberg.

Jill is an avowed Democrat, and shot an image of McCain for the magazine just like she normally would. However, she then proceeded to start shooting additional, differently lit portraits for her own means. The resulting images ended up on her site. The one I have posted here is the best of them. In one, McCain has a gaping maw, red eyes, and sharp, pointed teeth, and apparent blood dripping out from around his mouth and onto his shirt. There are a few more with side lighting and other attempts to make him look unsavory and vicious.

As a part-time photographer, I understand one thing very implicitly. In portrait photography, the relationship between a photog and the person they are shooting has to be one of implicit trust and good will. You don't go into a portrait session with an eye towards humiliating your subject, or casting them in a bad light (pardon the pun). You most certainly don't then go on to crow to others about how you just pulled a giant coup and showed the world who your subject "really" is. A more unprofessional attitude, representative of someone I certainly wouldn't want to hire to photograph my worst enemy, I can't imagine. To the Atlantic Monthly's credit, they have posted an editorial response to Ms. Greenberg's childish actions.

Now, had this happened to Obama, I certainly wouldn't have blogged about it. I'll admit that. Would I have approved of her doing something similar there? I absolutely would not. That kind of behavior is, to quote a good friend of mine, the very epitomy of bush league incompetance.

One would hope that Jill's other clients will see this, and wonder if perhaps they're next. I do hope, for her sake, that she wakes up and realizes that if there is one real rule of business, it's keep your politics out of your business. I think most of us who work for ourselves or consult in any profession realize that it is folly to drive customers off by foisting your own political or religious beliefs on them. It's hard enough to attract and keep good clients as it is.

H/T to Michelle Malkin for additional info about Greenberg. Michelle has an excellent (and much better stated) writeup about this on her site as well at that link.

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