Obama’s media image

Having seen an awful lot of images of President Obama in the media these past few days – both video and still, I’ve noticed a striking contrast between his appearance in the media and former president Bush’s: If Obama is in conversation, answering questions, or opining, the shots are often close up, often just framing his face & shoulders. Additionally, he’s sitting a lot, or being shot at eye-level, putting him on the same level as the viewer. When being filmed with other people, he is invariably leaning towards them, either listening to them or addressing them. There’s a sense that Obama is talking to you, rather than addressing you. The exception so far has been “official” announcement from podia, which tend to be filmed from a set distance. Perhaps what’s actually different is the amount of footage of Obama interacting with people, rather than announcing items from a podium.

Contrast this to how Bush was filmed – now, I cannot remember how he was filmed when he started his presidency, but in the last year or so, Bush was often shot from below, with him looking down on the viewer. Alternately, there were a lot of wide shots showing Bush in isolation – standing alone at a podium, or in front of a group of people, rather than in a group of a people. When there were close-ups on his face, they tended to be solely reaction shots, then pull back again for when he’d speak. Finally, when listening to someone else, Bush would often appear to lean back on his heels, rather than lean in towards the speaker.

Now, I’ve no idea how much of the angle of coverage is due to the media, how much is due to the President’s media advisors, how much stems from personality of the men, and how much is due to the fact that Obama’s ‘new’, but I do find it quite interesting. I wonder if one could gauge the relative popularity of a president (or prime minister) by the angles and distance from which he is filmed?

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