In a showdown of competing presidential (and vice-presidential) photographers, the White House released new official portraits of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday. The two portraits were shot by two different photographers, and it’s evident in the style of each photo. The question is, which photographer did it better?
President Trump’s photo was taken by Official White House Photographer Shealah Craighead, a veteran political photojournalist who was First Lady Laura Bush’s official photographer as well. While Pence’s photo was taken by D. Myles Cullen, a Defense Department photographer.
EXIF data reveals some telling details (you can find the full resolution file of Pence’s photo from the White House here and Trump’s here). Data has been stripped from the President’s photo, but in Pence’s photo you can see that Cullen was using a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens set at 123mm. You can also see that the caption information refers to him as “Micheal Pence,” somewhat of an embarrassing spelling mistake to leave in a file directly on the White House site.
Both photos feature an American flag in the background, though Pence is on a blue background while Trump is pictured against what appears to be the wall of the Oval Office (which CNN notes is possibly why the photo was delayed as the Oval Office was being redone).
Trump’s photo also includes the edge of a picture frame, something most basic photography teachers would say detracts from the image, but perhaps it was something that had a specific meaning to the President.
Lighting is also different as well. Pence’s photo appearing to be more of a studio-style portrait while Trump’s appears to be more naturally lit. Although without EXIF data, it’s hard to tell.
Trump is also smiling in this photo, a marked change from the scowl in his first official photo.
Which photographer made the better portrait? Sound off in the comments.