Friday, May 6, 2011

The Week In Photos: Obama Gets Osama

My full photo review at Le Lettre de la Photographie is is the weekly sample:

1. Situation Room

The most talked-about photo of the past week—the week in which, after nearly ten years, the United States caught up with Osama bin Laden—was a picture we haven't seen: President Obama says he will not release an image of the late terrorist's corpse. The second most talked-about image? This one, taken by White House photographer Pete Souza in the basement of the White House on Sunday, as the president and his senior staff gathered in the Situation Room to keep a real-time vigil as Navy Seals attacked Bin Laden's compound.

As a document of a historic moment, the picture has already achieved iconic status. Only days after it was published, a panel of photo editors was asked to describe what in particular made the image so compelling, and most mentioned the expression of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—"clearly, she's reacting to something she's seeing," said one of the editors. In fact, Clinton herself said later, she may have been only trying to stifle a cough brought on by seasonal allergy. For me, the most interesting aspect of the image is its description of the Obama leadership style: He sits in a corner, letting others take pride of place at table, confident, we can assume, in his command authority. It is obviously dangerous, however, to make too many assumptions about what a photograph does or does not show.

2. Celebration

One of the remarkable sights on Sunday night, as word began to spread of Bin Laden's death, was the crowd that grew from minute to minute in front of the White House. The people there were young, perhaps arriving from nearby George Washington University, rejoicing at the demise of a haunting figure of terror from their childhood. The celebration was captured here by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP.

3. Closure

The images of celebration in Washington and New York in the wake of the Bin Laden news provided a visual closure to the scenes of destruction and death the world witnessed on 9/11. Michael Appleton of the New York Times photographed members of the New York Fire Department's Ladder Company 4, "The Pride of Midtown," as they sat on a truck parked in Times Square. Appleton was only 23 and just beginning his photography career when he photographed the collapse of the World Trade Center's twin towers.

4. Remembrance

Celebration and remembrance, vastly different in spirit, went hand in hand. Finbarr O'Reilly of Reuters captured the latter with this image of flag wavers, their shadows cast against a wall at Ground Zero in New York.

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