Tufankjian Talks About Her Photo Coverage of Obama’s Campaign

WATERTOWN, Mass.—At its first monthly dinner meeting of 2010, the St. James Men’s Club was honored to have as guest speaker the noted photojournalist Scout Tufankjian, who spoke on her penetrating photo coverage of the entire two-year presidential campaign of Barack Obama. Tufankjian was the only independent photographer to do so, and has written a book about the campaign titled Yes we Can. About 30 stunning photographs accompanied her highly animated talk. These superbly composed images, showing Obama in private moments with his family or surrounded by security agents amidst an admiring public, were at once both striking and touching.

Scout Tufankjian

Tufankjian spoke at length about the character of then-candidate Obama and of the hopes and expectations he was so deft at inspiring—clearly revealed in expressions of awe and admiration on the young faces in her photographs. She brought to light a couple of Obama’s greatest skills, namely, the ability to create the impression that he can accomplish great things almost as though they have already been achieved, and take issue with an opposing view in a disarming and convincing manner. Several of Tufankjian’s images show Obama, the “consummate politician,” doing uncharacteristic things, like shooting pool or stroking a cow’s face at a farm. Dramatic impact is created through her concentration on details, the “smaller moments” as she calls them. Her images offer a unique perspective of the campaign through a creative choice of shooting angles, slower shutter speeds, and off-center or asymmetric composition.

Scout Tufankjian is clearly a self-driven photojournalist who would prefer to make herself known by creating long-term, lasting impressions rather than shooting for short term, sensational gains. That’s why, she says, this project was so important for her, as much as it was for experimenting with photographic methods and learning about this beautiful country. Her photographs successfully portray the various sides of Obama, as much a doting father and husband as an ultimate pragmatist. She discovered early on that Obama was a “man of contrasts” and enormous self-discipline, and remarked on his ability to remain calm and incredibly well focused throughout the ups and downs of the campaign. She spoke pointedly of Obama’s self-control, determination, and high self-esteem, attributes which we have come to know in our president.

When Tufankjian was asked at the end of her talk how she reacted to Obama’s failure to explicitly affirm the Armenian Genocide as he had promised, she responded that she felt as an Armenian would be expected to feel but was “not at all surprised.” She remained professional throughout the entire Q&A session by steadfastly refraining from giving her own opinion of Obama’s performance during his presidency.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.