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Friday, March 3, 2017


Is Trump portrait designed to intimidate Americans?

It has been said that a picture paints a thousand words, and looking at Trump’s official portrait several come to mind – and none of them good.

Having observed Trump in action for decades, I think it fair to say that there is little that is not calculated, deliberate, on the part of this individual and there is every reason to think that the stern intimidating nature of his portrait was intentional.

As CNN reports, “Trump cares deeply about visuals, knowing that sometimes pictures speak louder than words. 

Sometimes he even narrates what he’s doing to the camera crews, acting as both the star and director simultaneously. 

The new president is back in his element, hosting a show, this time not in the ‘Apprentice’ boardroom but in the Oval Office.

Noting that Trump leans forward, no smile, with an aggressive — arguably menacing — stare in the photo, Vox reached out to some experts asking them “what’s so strange about Trump’s White House portrait?”.

Tamzin Smith, a professional photographer specializing in portraits, told Vox that Trump’s slightly leaning forward posture portrays him as an aggressive person. 

Knowing that Trump likes to direct his own photo shoots, it is interesting to note that the lighting choice was “bizarre,” according to Smith. 

The horror, the terror his portrait evokes becomes more real when
compared to President Barack Obama’s White House
portrait following his second inauguration in 2013.
According to Smith, the bright white dots appearing beneath Trump’s pupils indicate that he was being lit from below.

Noting that “This is not a political post. 

Keep the discussions limited to Photography,” photography website Pixel Pluck confirms the strange nature of the photograph quoting a Reddit user and photographer MarblesAreDelicious

“Eyes not in focus. Weird lighting from the bottom right of the subject. Looks like a projector background. That expression sucks no matter who wears it.”

Writing about that facial expression, Vox writes that it’s “solemn” nature is “right on brand,” adding that: “Trump’s striking gaze … fits right in with the dark rhetoric Trump espoused throughout his campaign and in his inaugural address.”

Cara Finnegan, a professor of communication at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who’s writing a book about presidential photography, told Vox that “Trump has perfected this sort of serious-looking furrowed-brow scowl,” adding that “It would be a little weird, I think, if you know at the moment where he’s giving that inaugural address, the photo that launches is a big toothy grin.”

Vox adds that Michael Martinez, a professor of photojournalism at the University of Tennessee Knoxville who once worked as a photo editor for the Associated Press,”agrees that the portrait reinforces the image Trump worked to cultivate throughout the campaign.”

“That’s what he wants to project, that he’s gonna intimidate people,” Martinez said. “It doesn’t surprise me that that’s the look that he’s trying to portray in this.”

In the final analysis, it is difficult to say exactly what Trump’s intentions might have been without asking directly. And as Finnegan pointed out to Vox – anyone viewing the portrait will be doing so through the filter of their own subjective experience of Trump.

“If you supported Donald Trump in the election, this might be an image of a very serious man for a serious time; he might look very committed and patriotic,” Finnegan said, but “if you opposed Donald Trump, you might find the opposite to be true.”