Photos Don’t Lie


The Pink Flamingo has been working for a book on American Fashion in Photography for ages.  It is a massive project that features something like 2000 unpublished photos taken between 1850 and 1910.  During my research, I’ve learned that there are some photography experts and critics who see a photograph as a moment in time.  I don’t hold with that, always, but there are things that I’ve learned while researching my book.

In many ways, photos don’t lie. Sure, they can be posed, but within the pose, you see the reality of the situation.  There really aren’t lies, not greater truths, just literally a moment in time.  You can look at that photograph and make assumptions about the people, situation, what they wear, and what they want to portray.  With posed portraits it is sometimes more difficult.  The candid shots are where you get ‘the real story’.

On Sunday evening, The Pink Flamingo saw a photograph on Charles Johnson’s site.  The first reaction was, ‘oh, it’s adorable’.  Doesn’t matter what party you are, the photograph is adorable.  It is beyond cute.  It is cuteness taken to the nth degree.  It is terribly revealing, transparent, and tells you more about Barack Obama as a person that anything I’ve seen to date.

Face it… just go ahhh  and be done with it.  I don’t care if you are liberal, conservative, Republican or Democrat, it is adorable.

Little Green Footballs

What does the photo tell us?

  1. The little guy is adorable!
  2. The office is classy, very casual and terribly unpretentious.
  3. It is an office designed to be used, not to impress.
  4. There is no power trip here.
  5. This is not the office of a narcissist.
  6. It is an office uncluttered.
  7. It is extremely well organized, to the point of anal.
  8. The occupant is interested in the comfort of his guests.
  9. No matter how important  you are, you still get a plastic bag over your trash basket!
  10. This is a friendly office.  Come in, sit down, prop your feet up, talk.

The Oval Office that we know today, did not exist before William Howard Taft had it built in the West Wing.  It was designed by the grandfather of a very good friend of mine, Michael Hurd.  N. C. Wyeth, father of Andrew!  It was completed in 1909.  It was destroyed by fire in 1929.

Postcard of Taft 1909 Oval Office
Designed by N. C. Wyeth
Woodrow Wilson – 1917
Harding – 1923
Coolidge – 1927
1929 Christmas Eve Fire
Hoover – 1932


FDR 1945 – Quite Victorian
JFK’s Clutter
JFK’s Cluttered Mess
JFK Never Used the New Design
Completed November 22, 1963
LBJ’s Power Trip
LBJ Office, Night MLK, Jr. Murdered
Nixon & Bob Hope
Jerry Ford
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan’s Very California Office
Reagan’s Last Day
GHWB’s Class Act!
Bill Clinton’s Arkansas Tacky


GWB’s Bit o’ Wild West Look
GWB and Successor
Barack Obama

Which decor do you like best?

It is fascinating, when you go through a century of Presidents, how the Oval Office has changed.  Obama has the least pretentious.  I think GHWB had the most elegant.  I like his Federalist decor.  Reagan’s office looked like something my grandmother Froehlich would like.  Richard Nixon’s decor may be the most revealing – exhibiting his narcissism.  LBJ’s office was a power trip.

The technology is fascinating.  You go from Eisenhower’s old phones, to Obama’s iPad.  The televisions lined up in LBJ’s office are pure 60s!

The personality of each POTUS can be revealed in these photos.  The photos tell you something about the person and the era.  You can’t see children inside the Oval Office until JFK.  How heartbreaking it must have been, to have just completed the new decorating, with a couple photos taken, and then, right after, to learn that he was dead.

In many ways, Obama’s decor is the most comfortable.  His critics say that he is a cold fish, but the decor in his office says otherwise.  In many ways it is almost the same statement as the decor of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

Bill Clinton on the other hand….Oye!