Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Tinker Tailor President Photographer

with 11 comments

In hundreds of thousands of photographs taken of politicians and of the political theatre, one may be hard-pressed to find a single photo showing a politician wielding a camera, let alone a photo taken by a politician. Perhaps because photography is considered expensive, elitist and intrusive, it remains an unusually rare hobby among world leaders. Stalin, one of the most heartless of dictators, spent his free time sketching and drawing human body but never once directed his artistic talents towards photography. Hitler used photographs to aid his quite unremarkable drawing, but he delegated the responsibility of documenting the Fuhrer family to other hagiographers. Some of lesser strongmen, such as Tito and Ceausesu, were ‘photographers’ in the inflated doublespeak of their Orwellian lands, where the leader is the capable dilettante of almost any trade, but left behind only amateurish family albums.

In today’s politicians, there is Patrick Leahy, an American Senator from Vermont, who is quite accomplished and who has tremendous access. But perhaps the most famous politician-cum-photographer working today is the current president of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev. In January 2010, his photograph above was sold at a charity auction for 51 million rubles ($1.75 million), making it one of the most expensive ever sold, and propelling the quirky Russian president into record books.

Being a camera-toting politician comes with its own complications. Last week, Medvedev caused a diplomatic incident during his visit to some islands disputed between Russia and Japan. If his visit — the first by either Russian or Soviet leader since the-then USSR seized the islands in the last days of the WWII — were not bad enough, Mr. Medvedev took some pictures of the island with his trusty DSLR and posted them on his Twitter, with the caption, “How many beautiful places there are in Russia!” The Japanese were outraged, and temporarily recalled their ambassador to Moscow. Even before his photographic jaunt, Mr. Medvedev got into a different photography-related kerfluffle when he and the Italian Prime Minister posed in front of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper. For several minutes, the cameras flashed, despite the fact that the Milanese Church which housed the photosensitive mural clearly prohibited flash photography.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

November 10, 2010 at 12:59 am

11 Responses

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  1. Yes, but what is the photo?

    Stephen Downes

    November 10, 2010 at 1:23 am

  2. OK, it’s a photo of the Tobolsk Kremlin

    Reference here: http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=11&int_new=35681

    About Tololsk: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobolsk

    Stephen Downes

    November 10, 2010 at 1:27 am

  3. Video of Tobolsk Kremlin, which is really very beautiful

    Stephen Downes

    November 10, 2010 at 1:28 am

  4. it’s really not appropriate to compare as similar tito and causescu. just look at their deaths (being lincherd and being morned by 7 million people) for starters.

    luka

    November 10, 2010 at 10:15 am

  5. Wow.

    Johnny

    November 10, 2010 at 4:28 pm

  6. […] TheQuintessential tells us, …the current president of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev. In January 2010, his photograph above […]

  7. Thank you very much for posting this one, and thanks to Stephen Downes for the YouTube link of Tobolsk Kremlin.

    Caesar's wife

    November 11, 2010 at 10:58 pm

  8. I wasn’t aware that Sen. Leahy is a photographer, but I’m not surprised. Vermont is very photogenic.

    John

    November 12, 2010 at 3:50 pm

  9. Thailand’s King Bhumibol is also a noted photographer and is frequently seen holding a camera, including in official portraits. Here are but a few shots:

    http://www.thaiphotoblogs.com/index.php?blog=5&title=thai_king_leaves_hospital&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

    Who Knew

    November 21, 2010 at 8:56 pm

  10. I’m curious about the odd coloured blobs; reflections in the window glass?

    You have to wonder if the person who paid 51 million rubles did so because he liked the photo, or because he was under the impression it would ingratiate him with Vladimir Putin.

    Ashley Pomeroy

    December 4, 2010 at 2:41 pm

  11. “Even before his photographic jaunt, Mr. Medvedev got into a different photography-related kerfluffle when he and the Italian Prime Minister posed in front of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper.”

    kerfuffle not kerfluffle

    Tina

    January 15, 2011 at 6:59 am


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