The Presidential Portrait Was Taken by a Ten-Year-Old Camera

The Presidential Portrait Was Taken by a Ten-Year-Old Camera

Well, so much for always needing the latest and greatest gear. Even the president's official portrait was shot on a decade-old camera.

What you see below is President Trump's official portrait as it appears on the White House website:

The EXIF data has not been scrubbed from the file, and from it, we can readily see that the portrait was shot on a Canon 1Ds Mark III (a camera released in 2007!), using the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens, shot at 1/320 s, 145mm, f/2.8, ISO 640. I'll admit that this was certainly not the equipment nor the setting I expected to see in a presidential portrait. Trump's portrait appears to have been lit by a single light below him and to camera left. 

For comparison, here's President Obama's second portrait, taken in 2012:

Pete Souza's 2012 portrait of President Obama appears to have been lit by two overhead octaboxes and was taken on a Canon 5D Mark III (released that same year), using the 85mm f/1.2L lens, shot at 1/125 s, f/7.1, ISO 200. 

It's interesting to compare the two portraits, both from a perspective of what they convey and simply on the basis of the equipment they were shot on. What are your thoughts?

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Anonymous's picture

The 145 choice seems odd unless the flattening effect was intended to bring up the Capitol dome, flag? Or do something to his face. But the eyes surely are too dark..overall if the intent is to convey aggression, I guess it succeeds ..

I think the 145mm was so the picture of the Whitehouse, which appears to be on a large digital screen, would look larger and fill the void.

Andrew Richardson's picture

The VP's "portrait" was shot at 130mm. This was clearly a random photo grab. Don't know why they didn't put any effort into getting a real portrait made.

At least the background in the VP portrait was straight. If you look at the POTUS portrait, they used the outer edge of the right hand column to straighten the portrait.... Only problem is that the column is tapered from bottom to top, so the whole barckround is off.

I have made this mistake before (assuming something is vertical when it is not), but it does make me question why someone didn't take the time to make sure it was right.

David Moore's picture

The thing I notice about the Trump shot is how COOL it is. The background is pretty much blue. Also he looks pissed lol.

Rob Mynard's picture

it looks like they've tried to remove some of the orange out of Trumps skin in turn causing his tie to go slightly pink and his hair to go much lighter.

gabe s's picture

Went with the lowest bidder? My Nikon D3X still does amazing portraits. Its really about the lens anyways, but I am guessing there was very little time given to the photographer to actually get the shot. Maybe a lighting adjustment was not an option? I am more curious if he hires a staff photog. Def wont be Souza quality but will be interesting to see.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Maybe it was shot during a break in a video shoot, hence the hi ISO and not top notch lighting and somewhat odd color balance... Many video shooters I have shot with are concerned with the quantity of light rather than quality.
PS- His hair goes every which way... :)

Andrew Richardson's picture

I think you're right. Definitely looks like a video shoot.

Percy Ortiz's picture

do this photographers get paid to shoot the president (no pun intended) or do they do it for exposure? :P

Tony Clark's picture

Uninteresting images, both of them and it's the photographers fault not the equipments.

Andrew Feller's picture

For those on twitter... David Hobby hit it 100% on the nose.

Someone shot with portrait lens, studio strobes and wanted to balance it with the window behind.

Martin Van Londen's picture

The media did a real hack job on my presidential portrait (Trevor Noah trump voice)

Dallas Dahms's picture

One light firing upwards with a bounce card on it to through some light forwards.

Hans Rosemond's picture

It definitely seems like a rush job. I can picture them passing by the video setup, someone talking to Trump and saying that they need to get a portrait up on the website. He says, "Well let's just do it under these lights and get it over with." Photographer shrugs and makes the best of it.

Anonymous's picture

It looks a bit funny to me that the pin with the US flag is all blurry, but the tie does not seem as blurry as the pin...

Lance Bachelder's picture

The Trump shot looks like a snapshot from a news set. The white balance on the backdrop is worse than a JC Penny photo studio. At least the Obama shot you get it that he's in the oval office though the pose could be more presidential but this was his second portrait and he looks relaxed.

Sergio Tello's picture

He looks like he is about to read the news.

Trump looks like he is going to murder everyone in the room. If the photographer wants to convey that Trump looks like a mean, vicious and heartless person, job well done.
Obama on the other hand looks open and warm.

I wouldn't be surprised if his nephew or other family member shot it. Not because of nepotism obviously, but because they're really fantastic, the best photographer you've ever seen, absolutely beautiful work, a real bigly professional, they're going to be yuge in the industry, and believe me because I said it folks.

Alexandre LE PAPE's picture

I wonder if the white balance is about his skin or about making sure the White House behind is cold for effect. This is by far the strongest effect the picture has on me. He looks like his usual aggressive persona.

Bill Day's picture

Both the lighting and the pose are terrible. Where exactly is the photog having him look? And his posture AND his expression. The only justification I can think of for the high ISO is that he wanted a SS. Hand held I assume. Perhaps he/she was rushed and nervous. President Trump needs a redo.

Bill Day's picture

Obamas' portrait is awlful as well. But he does look more friendly and also more incompetent.