The Experience of Photographing Vladimir Putin

The Experience of Photographing Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin was named Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2007. Photographer Platon was selected to take his portrait for the cover, an image which has now gained far more reach and notoriety than just the magazine's cover. Here, he talks about his experience photographing one of the most powerful people in the world. 

Vladimir Putin is a highly controversial figure, particularly in the West, where many of his policies and practices are considered antithetical to those of the United States and other countries. Photographer Platon has a resume a mile long, having photographed countless high-profile figures, including Prince, Serena Williams, President Barack Obama, and many more. His photos have appeared in numerous international publications, having been featured on the cover of Time Magazine alone over 20 times. When he met with Putin to shoot his portrait, the experience began in a predictably intense way, with Platon looking for some sort of common ground upon which to build a rapport with the Russian President. Watch below as he explains the way he found that common ground and how his portrait evolved past a magazine cover and became the face of an entire movement. 

[via Huffington Post]

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31 Comments

The man is clearly a fascist, but don't fall into the mistake of judging people by the photographs of themselves. Obama looks like a great guy, but he decided not to apologize to the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You know, you have ethnic cleansing, and you have a situation where your kill 200.000 people and turn their next 1000 generations into mutants. That's another level.

Why bring Obama into this? Does the MAGA Fascist on the doorstep to the White House make him any better just because he "poses" with a smile, yet 90% of the time wears a scowl of unbridled hate?

I brought Obama into this just because I read the news this morning that he was in Hiroshima and refused to apologize for what USA did there.

I am Serb, and for the last 20 years I've been listening about ethnic cleansing that Serbs did in Bosnia. They killed 6000-10.000+ people just because they were Muslims.

I highly regret this. I mean, I regret that the nation that I belong to killed so many innocent people (and yes, I know a lot of them were soldiers, and I know that Muslims were devastating Serbian villages before that, but still - killing innocent people cannot bring anything but regret).

And then you face a president of the nation that killed 200.000 people in two strikes and destroyed who knows how many lives because of the radioactive material that was left on that place. And this president shows no regret for doing so because "it's war - it's supposed to be ugly".

I can't help but seeing a fascism in this attitude.....

The Japanese have never apologised for the medical experiments (Unit 731), torture, slave labour (The most famous is the Burma-Siam railway), 'Comfort' woman, numerous breaches of the Geneva Convention that included the massacre of civilians and wounded soldiers in the Alexandria Hospital and the Fall of Singapore plus other events that happened throughout WW II,... That also excludes what happened during the Chinese War which predates WW II. So the 200,000 killed by a bomb is dwarfed by the rumoured deaths due to all this, it's been estimated that over 110,000 people died during the construction of the railway alone.

Of course many historians ignore the Asian conflict and not really taught as part of common history.

Well, Bosnian Muslims never apologized for their mass murders, but who cares about that. It's human to apologize for mass murders that your country did. Apologizing is the least and easiest thing you can do. Otherwise, you get into the loop of hatred. I bet most of those 200.000 people were not fascists and would stop the war and dying right away if they could impact the politics..

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

muahaha fascist? funny how ppl who don not know almost nothing about him or know only few things from western news on TV trying to judge him +) nice move pals! )

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

better than in almost whole europe...

Marko Djuricic's picture

You don't read much (relevant) news, do you? Try and read a mocking poem about Turkish president in front of a TV camera in Germany and see what happens.

I rarely comment on political topics but since the whole article is sort of political I feel the urge to do it:

@Marko Djuricic:
I live in Germany and if you are referring to Jan Böhmerman and his poem about turkish president Recep Erdoğan:
Jan Böhmermann MIGHT have to face a lawsuit due to an 100 year old law (which was introduced at that time to protect foreign chief of states of ridicule). This law is going to be abolished because it is not relevant anymore and the german government itself has initialized this effort because they saw that the law is stupid.

Concerning the lawsuit itself:
This case might go to the german supreme court but the most Mr. Böhmermann has to face is probably a monetary penalty. And when the lawsuit is over this law is abolished anyway.

Otherwise Mr. Böhmermann still has his niche TV show (which has grown in popularity since the "incident") in which he did not ridicule the president with his poem directly but ridiculed Mr. Erdogans thin-skinned behaviour in relation to satire and tried to test out the liberal german laws concerning freedom of speech and satire.

The trigger for Mr. Böhmermann's "poem" was a german tv satire which you can see here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2e2yHjc_mc

which was pretty harmless and is something they do about german politicians all the time. Noone gets arrested in Germany for mocking german politicians.

But the problem is that in Turkey - if you are a comedian or a satirist - and you are mocking Mr. Erdogan you might have to face dire consequences. Right now about 2000 journalists, artists, even students are in prison or awaiting a trial because they said something controversial about "their" leader.

In Germany we have this ONE special case which is about a foreign leader who tries to bring one person to court due to an ancient law which is going to be abolished.

And by the way: our chancellor Angela Merkel is mocked regularly by turkish newspapers and compared to Adolf Hitler:
https://goo.gl/JBjP5b
And here is what she does about it:
NOTHING! Because she is above such things.

Marko Djuricic's picture

Yup, that's precisely what I was referring to.
The breadth of freedom of expression seems to be situation dependent though. Erdogan makes a noise and Angie jumps. Because of one ridiculous poem.
If let's say Putin protested, because just look at how he's been portrayed in western media, what would she do? Most likely, nothing. I bet you anything that that ancient German law would've been well buried and never seen the light of day in German press. But because of whole migrants situation, Erdogan has Germany and the whole EU by their scrotums. We live in messed up times.

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

ppl in europe could be discredited and fired from their job for their alternative opinion different from the official position... i see that you are in pink glasses about what happening in europe...

but in youtube you can easily find how you can be fired from your job only because you said you understand putin... in germany especially... and yes we have many opposite reporters who is not in prison or etc echo of moscow for example very big broadcast station (they have broadcast offices in almost every city in russia) and they say what they want at all...and many liberal smaller mass media structures around here besides of internet.... of course i do not idealize putin but nazi? nope!

sorry my english isnt that good for this conversation besides that fstoppers isnt good place for this discussion...

Just read fascism definition and you will find too many similarities...

So, you decided not to read it... OK. Stay there.

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

hehe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete (done),

and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary (done)

to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties. (done, some believe that it is just work in progress)

Such a state is led by a strong leader (see above)

such as a dictator (almost there)

and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party (done)

to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society (done)

Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature (done)

and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.(#krymnash)

Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky through protectionist and interventionist economic policies. (done)

So, dear colleague, stay there and do "hehe". Your country is not too far from your new 1945, but on other side.

Radoslaw Kazmierczak's picture

Mr Pete, you are talking bollocks.

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

It gave me goosebumps.

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

More the Platon's story than Putin himself. It takes balls to brake ice like that. Putin as highly intelligent person, for sure knew that Platon made his homework. He could get upset by that, and Platon wouldn't be able to create connection this way. Fortunately it was good call.
You see, taking portraits is not limited to pressing the button. Everyone can snap technically correct picture. The real art is creating the mood and getting expression you want. At the end of the day, photography is subjective.

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

*You assume that it is a problem for him. People could use any picture.
He is former KGB operative and is ruling Russia practically since 1999. Whatever we agree with his policy or not, he must be very intelligent.

*Get yourself celebrity status and tell us how easy it was...

*Stop trolling

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

Man, you always disagree :D How I knew, you will use Kardashians argument? But guess what, it is totally irrelevant, because they have totally different audience.
The bottom line is...? I actually don't know what you are trying to say. Do you?

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

"talent" is very generic term and could be very subjective. I didn't implied anything about the talent. What I implied is that, it is not as easy, as you suggested to become celebrity.
BTW, I read your previous comment again. I thought "celebrity photographers" are photographing celebrities, not necessarily are celebrities themselves. Like fashion or cars photographers etc.

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

back to subject... i like PLATON's black and white pics mostly... following him on instagram and he has a lot really good pictures inner

Marko Djuricic's picture

He sure makes nice head shots. BUT.... What a tool this Platon is. Egomaniacal much? What a powerful nickname. He really thinks (too) much of himself.
Meeting a head of the state, having a pleasant chit chat with a president of not so unimportant country, and then boasting his pride how the western backed opposition uses his photos against the guy he took that picture of. Imagine a Russian photographer making a photo of Obama and then pounding his proud chest how Obama's opposition uses his photo portraying him as Hitler. You know what would happen in western "free" press? He'd be crucified left and right. He'd be probably banned entering US of A for the next thousand years.

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

Whatever your judgement is I don't know who you are and I do know who Platon is... and he is taking portraits of most influential people on the planet... I guess his "thinking too much of himself" works for him just fine.

Marko Djuricic's picture

He is definitely a class A photographer. He must be, because otherwise he would never come close to people like Putin. Or Robert Mugabe for that matter. I don't have beef with his photographic talent. Peter Hurley should do internship in his studio. That's how good I think he is with his head shots. But he should know better when it comes to politics. Taking pride in seeing his photos being taken for political reasons, where a head of state is being portrayed as Hitler, a president of a country which statistically speaking suffered in WWII like no other, well, that's quite shameful in my book.

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

I do agree about what you've said. I just mean that he has reasons to be proud and it works for his business.
Personally I don't like that he is taking sides, excusing himself for taking portraits of Putin. Like that was something bad, but at least people used it in positive way...

Marko Djuricic's picture

Politics aside, gotta say though, I like Platon's style. The in-your-face-up-close-and-personal look. Very striking. And he sure did create the most memorable head shot of Putin in my opinion. Good job there.

He posed similarly to Abe Lincoln's statue... And the low angle make it looks like a giant too!

Yucel Yalim's picture

Interesting portrait, light is pretty hard, and shooting angle is low, conveys much power. Great job. Looks like only the one light to butterfly Putin and one on the background. And, the art of getting the shot, thanks for the explanation.

If I may throw the thought out there. Take out your feelings of this man and see him as just that. A client who wished to be photographed in a manner that showed strength and power. The photographer preformed the job well. The customer was very happy and ultimately showed kindness and compassion to the photographer as a way of saying thank you.
Later that client's photo is published, stolen and used in a manner not intended by the photographer nor the client. Any client has every right to be upset. Not sending Christmas card is not an insult to the photographer, but a show of dissatisfaction that the image this person created could so easily be destroyed. He may have no qualms with the photographer, but that image was his only attachment (that we know of) with eachother, so by ruining that, there in goes the bond.