The New York Times ran this photograph by Chip Somodevilla of Getty Images in the paper today in a story about Bill Clinton on the campaign trail for President Obama, and I have to say that it has me perplexed. It’s a very strange photograph, with the blurry finger twice as tall as his head, as well as the fact that the picture is cropped so that you can’t see Clinton’s chin. And the black background, that slants down from left to right, which draws the eye right down to that big blurry finger. It makes me wonder what sort of message are the editors trying to send by having this picture posted with the lead story?
The first thought that came to my mind was: this is an artistic attempt to mimic the distorted bodies in Bill Brandt’s photography (see below). Assuming this is Bill Clinton’s finger, way out in front of his body as he’s gesturing to his audience, the photograph is taken in a way to make it look disproportionately big, not unlike Brandt’s angles which make his models look distorted.
But I guess I’m still trying to figure out the editorial decision to run this particular picture of Bill Clinton – because I really don’t think they were trying to be artsy and copy Bill Brandt. Are they trying to make Clinton look bad by cutting off his chin and making his finger so huge? Are they using the distortion to make him look stupid like these guys in the stock photos below with the distorted hands?
Well, if the Times is going to try to send any sort of message with weird hand pictures, I think it’s only fair to show weird hand pictures for both the Democrats and the Republicans, so here you go: