Before the Campaign ‘12 results come in this evening, I want to pay my respects to one of America’s finest editorial photographers. I’m constantly taken by his ability to capture meanings on multiple levels. Take his images from candidate Romney’s final blitz, for example. On face value, Stephen Crowley is merely offering glimpses into stagecraft and campaign ephemera. Look further though, and the photos are silent editorials, even essays about the candidate, his personality and political culture.

I want to touch on a few of Crowley’s images that appeared in yesterday’s New York Times slideshow entitled: “To the White House? Or Home to Massachusetts?” as Crowley sees Mitt back to the land of the 1%.

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Bag’s Take-Away:

I don’t really know how to put this in words, but something about these two late October photos in the same Reuters slide show struck me as cementing conceptions of the two candidates for president. Romney alone and waiting, the focus on the man waiting for the verdict. A woman with her back to him, but every other human nearly incorporeal. He’s the only real solid in the photo. A lonely solid. If I could paint, this could be my portrait of him.

In the other photo; Obama is embraced by a man who seems almost humbled by the president’s attention: he’s hugging Obama in an intent if awkward manner, his arm solidly around the president’s waist. His fellow fire fighters smiling at his vulnerability and the interaction. Again, if I could paint, this could be my portrait — not of the president, but of his emotional impact. I don’t know why or how Obama engenders this dynamic, but it is genuine and evident in this photograph.

via Reuters Obama vs. Romney Slide Show

(Top Photo Credit: Bryan Snyder/Reuters caption: Staff members are reflected off the window of the room as Mitt Romney works before a campaign rally in North Canton, Ohio October 26, 2012. Bottom Photo Credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters caption: President Obama hugs a fire fighter who offered up a game of basketball during a visit to a fire house in Tampa, Florida October 25, 2012.)

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Bag’s Take-Away:
 Interesting that the rest of the Obama family watched Michelle’s convention speech in The Treaty Room. As we wrote about the speech in our post today, Michelle Obama with the Sound Off, her mission was nothing short of updating the American people on the Obama’s 2008 contract of hope with the goal of reengagement. By the way, here’s an earlier Bag post on the painting above the Obamas’ heads.
via The White House Flickr Feed
(credit: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption:  President Barack Obama and his daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, watch on television as First Lady Michelle Obama begins her speech at the Democratic National Convention, in the Treaty Room of the White House, Tuesday night, Sept. 4, 2012.)
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Bag’s Take-Away:

Interesting that the rest of the Obama family watched Michelle’s convention speech in The Treaty Room. As we wrote about the speech in our post today, Michelle Obama with the Sound Off, her mission was nothing short of updating the American people on the Obama’s 2008 contract of hope with the goal of reengagement. By the way, here’s an earlier Bag post on the painting above the Obamas’ heads.

via The White House Flickr Feed

(credit: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption: President Barack Obama and his daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, watch on television as First Lady Michelle Obama begins her speech at the Democratic National Convention, in the Treaty Room of the White House, Tuesday night, Sept. 4, 2012.)

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Bag’s Take-Away:
 This Souza White House photo is nothing special — unless you’ve been following  the saga of Churchill’s bust. The fact it anchors a campaign rebuttal and is served up as documentary evidence actually is unusual however, as the White House post points out.  So it goes in a campaign season in which absolutely nothing is left on the table, or the credenza, or the bookcase in the daily tit-for-tat.
via WhiteHouse.gov
(credit: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption:  President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House, July 20, 2010.)
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Bag’s Take-Away:

This Souza White House photo is nothing special — unless you’ve been following the saga of Churchill’s bust. The fact it anchors a campaign rebuttal and is served up as documentary evidence actually is unusual however, as the White House post points out.  So it goes in a campaign season in which absolutely nothing is left on the table, or the credenza, or the bookcase in the daily tit-for-tat.

via WhiteHouse.gov

(credit: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption: President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House, July 20, 2010.)

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Bag’s Take-Away:
 White House shot offers informal poll, courtesy of Governor Christie, of Obama’s popularity with Ground Zero hard hats.
via White House Flickr
(credit:Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption:  President Barack Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, right, greet workers during a tour of the One World Trade Center site in New York, N.Y., June 14, 2012.)
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Bag’s Take-Away:

White House shot offers informal poll, courtesy of Governor Christie, of Obama’s popularity with Ground Zero hard hats.

via White House Flickr

(credit:Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption: President Barack Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, right, greet workers during a tour of the One World Trade Center site in New York, N.Y., June 14, 2012.)

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Bag’s Take-Away:

We cover them up and protect them and we do their birthdays. The Obama team knows how to treat the press.

Top photo via DayLife. Bottom photo via White House Flickr.

(Top photo credit: Jewel Samad/Getty Images caption: Photographers position in a Fedex trailer under a rainfall while waiting for US President Barack Obama to board Air Force One at BWI airport in Baltimore, Maryland, on June 12, 2012. Obama is seeking to steady his reelection bid after a wobbly week by redrawing the economic choice facing US voters and stuffing millions of dollars into his campaign war chest. Obama was last week swamped by a torrent of bad economic news, mocked after he said the private sector was doing ‘fine’ and forced to deny his White House was leaking intelligence on drone strikes and Iran to make him look tough. Bottom photo credit: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption: President Barack Obama celebrates the birthday of Bloomberg White House correspondent Julianna Goldman aboard Air Force One during the flight from Ramstein, Germany, to Joint Base Andrews, Md., May 2, 2012. )

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Bag’s Take-Away:
 We get the point and if crowds start looking any more enthused and adoring, it’s going to get scary. 
via The White House Flickr 
(credit: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption:  President Barack Obama greets people in the audience after delivering the keynote address at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies 18th Annual Gala Dinner in Washington, D.C., May 8, 2012.)
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Bag’s Take-Away:

We get the point and if crowds start looking any more enthused and adoring, it’s going to get scary.

via The White House Flickr

(credit: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption: President Barack Obama greets people in the audience after delivering the keynote address at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies 18th Annual Gala Dinner in Washington, D.C., May 8, 2012.)

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Bag’s Take-Away:
 Why do I love this shot? I love the angle of Obama’s, then Kennedy’s head combined with the angle at which Obama in the photo holds his daughter AND the little Pete Souza in the mirror. That’s beyond the all-too-obvious ploy in defense of Washington — about austerity (pass the chips, Mitch!) and bipartisanship/breaking bread.
via The White House Flickr 
(credit: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption:  President Barack Obama has lunch with members of the Congressional Leadership in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, May 16, 2012. The President served hoagies from Taylor Gourmet, which he purchased after a small business roundtable earlier in the day. Seated, clockwise from the President, are: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Speaker John Boehner.)
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Bag’s Take-Away:

Why do I love this shot? I love the angle of Obama’s, then Kennedy’s head combined with the angle at which Obama in the photo holds his daughter AND the little Pete Souza in the mirror. That’s beyond the all-too-obvious ploy in defense of Washington — about austerity (pass the chips, Mitch!) and bipartisanship/breaking bread.

via The White House Flickr

(credit: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption: President Barack Obama has lunch with members of the Congressional Leadership in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, May 16, 2012. The President served hoagies from Taylor Gourmet, which he purchased after a small business roundtable earlier in the day. Seated, clockwise from the President, are: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Speaker John Boehner.)

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Bag’s Take-Away:
 Celestial Obama. Reuters photographer Larry Downing captures a new spin on the old “president boards a plane” photograph. 
via Reuters Editor’s Choice
(credit:  Larry Downing/Reuters caption:  President Obama walks up the stairs towards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington before departing for San Francisco, June 6, 2012. The clouds are reflected in the aircraft’s engine cover.)
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Bag’s Take-Away:

Celestial Obama. Reuters photographer Larry Downing captures a new spin on the old “president boards a plane” photograph.

via Reuters Editor’s Choice

(credit: Larry Downing/Reuters caption: President Obama walks up the stairs towards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington before departing for San Francisco, June 6, 2012. The clouds are reflected in the aircraft’s engine cover.)

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Bag’s Take-Away:

One of the reasons I like the juxtaposition of these two photos is that they show the lasting effect of one prong of Rovian philosophy: co-opting the opponent’s message (the sibling of turning your opponent’s strength against them ). And, in fact, polls show that a significant number of Obama voters and independents supported Walker

Top photo via DayLife, bottom photo via Altoona Herald

(Top photo credit: Getty Images caption: WAUKESHA, WI - JUNE 05: While his family watches from the wings, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker greets supporters at an election-night rally June 5, 2012 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Walker, only the third governor in history to face a recall election, defeated his Democrat contender Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Opponents of Walker forced the recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state. Bottom photo credit: Bill Neibergall/Des Moines Register caption:After he shook hands with members of the audience, President Obama walked to the podium after arriving at the Knapp Learning Center, on Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday night May 24th, 2012.)

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