Richard Nixon Jumps
“Halsman felt that asking a person to jump shifted their attention from being photographed to the act of jumping, thereby revealing the subject’s inner personality,” said Kurt Sundstrom, Assistant Curator at the Currier Gallery of Art. “In fact, Halsman compared his ability to reveal character to the work of a good psychologist.”
Halsman himself admitted, “[Revealing character] can’t be done by pushing the person into position or arranging his head at a certain angle. It must be accomplished by provoking the victim, amusing him with jokes, lulling him with silence, or asking impertinent questions which his best friend would be afraid to voice.”
Halsman himself was daunted to photographer Vice President Richard Nixon in the White House and thought that the proper and grumpy politician would refuse to jump. However, Nixon readily agreed, but like his subsequent presidency, the photo was awkward to say the least.