Trump’s White House Photographer Is Trolling Him

Trump’s White House Photographer Is Trolling Him

By now, President Donald Trump’s infamous photo of himself awkwardly holding a bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington D.C., is well known. That peaceful protestors were gassed to get that photo opportunity has also been established.

But this isn’t about any of that. This is about the photograph that resulted from the walk across the street, the one by official White House photographer Shealah Craighead. It’s about the fact that it is tremendously terrible. It’s a huge failure.

That’s not a knock on Craighead. She’s an excellent photographer who has a long career, even serving as first lady Laura Bush’s official photographer during the George W. Bush’s administration. She’s a consummate professional who has dutifully photographed the Trump White House since 2017 with nary a protest. Or so we think.

Take a look at this photo from Oct. 16, 2019, perhaps the first crack in the armor that signals that maybe, just maybe she disagrees with her boss here:

Craighead's October 2019 photo of Nancy Pelosi engaged in a heated exchange with President Trump.

Craighead's October 2019 photo of Nancy Pelosi engaged in a heated exchange with President Trump.

In the photo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is delivering a stern, standing rebuke to a seated Donald Trump about the ramifications of removing troops from northern Syria. At the time, it sparked a lot of debate about power and sexism, with each actor looking at it in different ways. Trump viewed it as Pelosi having a meltdown, tweeting out as much, while Nancy Pelosi viewed it as standing up for herself, and changed it to her Twitter banner to troll the president. With one photo, Craighead had managed to both please her employer and trolled him at the same time.

Maybe that was the first crack in the dam, with it finally breaking that fateful Monday, June 1. Perhaps it was the usual lack of preparation when it comes to the Trump team’s photography. He did, after all, just use a lazy, in-the-office, on-the-spot photo for an official portrait and didn’t even let his defense secretary know what was about to come. What are the chances a lowly photographer would be briefed so that they could prepare?

But no, Craighead is a seasoned pro. Even without warning, she could make something. From a technical standpoint, focus, exposure, and white balance are perfect. I argue that this photo, framed this way, and photographed so lackadaisically was a silent cry for help from a photographer who’s just had enough but is too professional to openly protest. Or it’s an intentionally bad photo created in a show of protest over what had just transpired.

Take a look at some of Craighead’s other photos from that failed photo opportunity here and here. What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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119 Comments

Deleted Account's picture

It's a photograph of their conflicting viewpoints.

David Stephen Kalonick's picture

The dictionary needs to add any picture of him under the definition of Troll.

Bernie Bros's picture

No, any comment with your picture serves the purpose.

T Van's picture

Where is the moderator here? Aren't blatant personal attacks addressed on this site?

Erpillar Bendy's picture

It's "Bernie Bros" again, still using the deceptive name "Bernie Bros". This person is definitely not a Bernie Bro.

anthony marsh's picture

Oh but he is. He is posting straight from BOLSHEVIK BERNIE'S playbook.

David Stephen Kalonick's picture

That comment went well for him. lol

Adam Hourigan's picture

I'm no Trump fan, but this just seems mean. A tremendously terrible photo? Does it show place? Context? Intent? Was it seen around the world? Perhaps you need to explain your viewpoint while you've got a worldwide platform to vilify others without explanation or rebuttal. What if you've just misrepresented her because of your own leanings? Who knows - you don't explain yourself at all, and the worst thing we can do, especially when photography as a community and a profession is in the doldrums, is to be tearing each other down needlessly.

Deleted Account's picture

Yeah, don't be mean to the morbidly obese moronic bully.

Bernie Bros's picture

You and your kind are the bullies.

Deleted Account's picture

Oh totally, the poor dumb piece of garbage, who was given an immense fortune by daddy, and who occupies the most powerful office in the world is clearly defenseless.

At least he has you to defend him.

How does it feel being so easily triggered?

Bernie Bros's picture

How does it feel to have nothing substantive in your life but impotent rage?

Deleted Account's picture

I love it so much when morons try to sound articulate.

Bernie Bros's picture

Impotent rage. Your leftist fury a bromide for a failed life.

Deleted Account's picture

Pro tip: if you are going to attempt to get under a person's skin, you really need to get your profile correct.

As it stands, I am simply laughing at you.

Nicholas Vettese's picture

So if your daddy had money and gave it to you, you would turn it down and work at McDonald's to prove your point??? That's laughable.

Deleted Account's picture

That was your take away?

Edit: just out of curiosity, I looked at your linked socials...

Alfonse Diantonio's picture

Here’s my questions from before Mr. Bros:

Why did you put quotes on white supremacists Mr Bros? Who is Ms. 13? Why hasn’t she been arrested?
Also, why are you talking about Ms. 13 instead of kkk? You should focus sir!
So many questions from what you say! Hope you answer my question!

Dan Ostergren's picture

Agreed, calling it a tremendously terrible photo seems really unnecessary. Also all of these folks now fighting over this is tremendously entertaining, just saying.

Eric Robinson's picture

Interesting. I had actually thought given the circumstances they were taken by a staff member rather than an official photographer as it’s more a snap rather than a portrait.

Rick Rizza's picture

Exactly. Doesn't look like taken at the right moment or posr, poor composition, and like it was taken by a Huawei P10 phone.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

I was super surprised to find out it was the official photographer as well!

David Stephen Kalonick's picture

“I hire the best people” 🤣

Paul Parkinson's picture

This article reads like a long-winded essay question.
Really, the only thing missing is the word "Discuss." at the end.

Ted Lee's picture

That’s a serious case of TDS to make that leap. She may be the WH photog, but nothing she shoots gets released that isn’t approved by the WH itself. To posit that these pics are trolling POTUS just belies your own interest in doing so.

Scott Spellman's picture

The judgement, wild conjecture, and headline of this article are far below even the journalistic standards of FStoppers. While I also do not support our President, this article should not even exist. Please screen your articles better FStoppers.

Richard Tack's picture

Fstoppers creators and staff, don't ruin a wonderful and informative photography site with politics.

David Penner's picture

This writer and Andy Day or whatever his name is have been trying for years.

Steven Dente's picture

I for one come to this site to enjoy myself reading about photography. I get enough biased, rude, and offensive politics from both sides in other places. In this article, and in others by this author use thin relationship to photograph subjects as cover to write political garbage.

Honestly F-Stoppers I expect more from you. I expect that you would curate your content to eliminate such blatant political articles. Please do not host articles designed to divide us. Let's keep politics off this otherwise wonderful site.

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