C.J. Burton Reveals How He Created His Viral Donald Trump Cover for Newsweek

C.J. Burton Reveals How He Created His Viral Donald Trump Cover for Newsweek

Earlier this year Newsweek ran a cover featuring everyone's favorite president to hate as their cover, depicting him lazily hanging out in the oval office pounding back the calories in about the least presidential way possible. Newsweek contracted legendary conceptual photographer C.J. Burton to create this inevitably notorious cover. Naturally, Burton quickly realized there would be no chance of him getting access to either Trump or the Oval Office for such a shoot so needed to leverage the power of compositing to create the image desired by the client.

In his livestream from Creatr's new From Concept to Cover weekly livestream series, Burton walks viewers through the entire process of creating an image like this. Beginning from pre-concept and brainstorming with the client's creative team, to the shoot itself, and finally, through the entire Photoshop process, Burton lays out his entire workflow that was able to transform a vague idea from the client to a polished final image. 

As can be expected Burton worked through many iterations of a similar idea before settling on a final concept which he worked with a creative team to build into a real photo. By leveraging the power of publicly available stock imagery and a scratch built set Burton was able to build an image of Trump without ever needing to photograph the president himself. An image constructed this way, however, certainly raised many ethical questions about whether it is ok to create an image of anyone, let alone a world leader, doing something that almost certainly never occurred. In an era where fake news has quickly become a cancer in our society. Has a moral line been crossed in constructing a completely CG image for the cover of a publication claiming to be "news?" Watch the video and let me know what you think in the comments below!

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41 Comments

Great job hastening the irrelevance of NEWSWEEK !

Jeff McCollough's picture

This is a total lack of respect for the president. If this was done to other presidents this "magazine" would be mobbed.

Agree, and Trump may be many things but Lazy is not one of them. Someone was too lazy to campaign in Wisconsin but it wasn't Trump.

You are soooo right! This would NEVER be done to ANY other president, like say Obama and wife as Terrorists, or A very Phalic Bill Clinton (who was you know....with his you know...) and War Monger Bush.....

NO, NO, No president has EVER had to put up with

Criticism (see TRUMP himself and the BIRTHER MOVT.)
OR THE PRESS (see Obama and Fox News for the last years ....or should i say NINE!)
Or Satire (see Will Ferrell as W. Or Dana Carvey as Bush 1 or Hammond as Clinton or Akroyd as Nixon)
Or Documentaries made negatively about them (See Fahrenheit 9/11 OR The Obama Deception)
OR TOTAL LACK OF RESPECT: See once again TRUMP QUESTIONING OBAMAS CITIZENSHIP! which is also obviously RACIST.

...once again Trump is the FIRST AT EVERYTHING!

but lets get this back to Photography.....I think based on Trump's CONSTANT tweeting and references to cable news both good and bad....this picture is probably VERY accurate. He spends a TREMENDOUS amount of time watching cable news according to...HIM.

I have no evidence that this man is NOT LAZY.....he installed a button for someone to bring him a pepsi into the Oval Office! He has never worked a day in his life, he inherited ALL of his wealth (that he didn't squander in failed business's like selling steaks at SHARPER IMAGE) and to boot no photographer can even get his skin tone correct because its not on the skin tone line! That is my biggest gripe with this photo....he skins looks to normal! That was the dead giveaway it was a composite!

Just go look at Jared Poulins breakdown of Trumps official Presidential Portrait and how COOL the image is....then watch as he tries to correct it...OOMPA LOOMPA!

Read more carefully what Jeff wrote.

The more Trump opens his mouth the more left wing media exposes and buries itself.

Justin Berrington's picture

Why are you including Platon's portrait of Bill Clinton in this? How is a photo that Clinton intentionally sat for disrespectful?

Let them keep going Jeff; it is benefitting the country and they, the left wing media, have no clue, or they simply can't stop themselves.

Agree. They wouldn't dare have done this to Obama. If you can't respect the man, at least respect the Office.

Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it ~ Hitler

I think that was Goebbels, but you fail on likening Trump to Hitler.

Studio 403's picture

I have always thought satire is the comedy of cynics. I really the like the composite of our President. I would think with all the “haters” of President Trunk, it’s simple to jump on the “band wagon:” to mock the office of the presidency’s. Harvard University issues a report of major news outlets. The review had like 92% of the President coverage was negative in word and style. So, it seems that “dog has been beaten” to many times, so to speak and is somewhat tiresome and overdone. I remember , I think it was Vanitiy Fair when the rag did a drawing un flatteringly editorial of President Obama’s face. It was sort of cartoonish look. I like satire and I like and support President Trump. I think the editorial is very funny. The President has been lampooned so many times since He was elected, sort of borning now.

Hey Ryan, can you stop posting troll fodder like this? I realize that stepping into the current political morass is a good way to drive engagement and clickthroughs but at what cost? I'm inundated with this crap all day, every day from a million other news sources. I come here to escape it all and simply read about photography.

If you want to keep pushing people's buttons (whether Trump supporters or detractors) in exchange for a few more nickels, then I'll vote with my eyeballs and spend my (limited) amount of time on PetaPixel, DPReview, Photofocus, Reddit or a thousand other options instead.

William Howell's picture

Duuude not Petapixel they’re the worst when it comes to click-bait!

Ryan Cooper's picture

In what way is this troll fodder? This is a detailed analysis of a commercial project by a highly successful commercial photographer that also happens to bring up a very real moral dilemma that photographers encounter.

Yes, the subject is Donald Trump, but really, "who" it is, is irrelevant. Its the nature of the project that begs the discussion and its a very relevant one for the photographic community.

What is preventing you from skipping the article?

William Howell's picture

Legendary... I think that word is losing some of its luster!

My favorite presidents to “hate” were 0bama the Kenyan Mooslim and Clinton the Cigar Aficionado.

Just shows how much the "news" is biased nowadays... Modified images shouldn't be allowed for news IMHO.
One you start accepting that "news" photos can be fake, you might as well accept that everything in the article is biased and "fake" and Google/facebook should ban it from their search engines automatically. But they won't because they're biased as well 😛

The overt bias of the MSM and hypocrisy of liberals in general is why he'll win again in 2020.

viral photo ? first time I've seen this and i think i am pretty well informed and in the know. i'm not even a big President Trump fan i think this is kinda dumb. i doubt he has one of Killary or the other guy.

Cesare Bonazza's picture

The left at his best as usual. Butt in he next election the silent majority will crash you again keep it up.
I love photography stop bashing our president, If you really love facts is that the last one that was in office was the most corrupted but again not a bleep from our news media I wonder why Democracy? or pure left totalitarian way thinking?

Cesar Sales's picture

Love it! There's long tradition of presidential parodies and this is the best I've seen. So perfect.

Elan Govan's picture

Balance reporting from across the pond.....Spitting Image and the Royal Family. https://youtu.be/zBzBTbfByJU

"Has a moral line been crossed in constructing a completely CG image for the cover of a publication claiming to be "news?""

Of course.

The two best things that have come from Trump's presidency is how he has been able to get the news media, and other media, (most of it left wing) to expose themselves as the irrational, maniacal, biased and unprofessional journalists and news sources that they really are, and his total disregard for political correctness.

Jim Bolen's picture

HA! And I bet you think Fox News is truly fair and balanced.

William Howell's picture

Fox News Channel is fair, no I mean super fair... no wait, now that I think about it Fox News is the most unfair news organization!
When there is a debate on Fox you have equal numbers of both sides of the political spectrum and that simply is not fair, everyone knows you need at least a four to one ratio to achieve fairness. Four leftist to one Conservative, that makes for a somewhat fair debate, so I guess you are right, Fox is not all that fair.
My bad.

I read all types of news and I have no loyalty to any news organizations or any political parties. That said, "fair and balanced" is much more of a problem (an understatement) when dealing with left wing news sources, and that's simply because people on the left think more with their emotions.

Cesar Sales's picture

Americans are so uptight about this stuff. Politicians are meant to be skewered and roasted! Don't, as I've heard it said, get your panties in a bunch. If you don't like this, you probably shouldn't check out what the rest of the world is saying about him.

William Howell's picture

Oh my gosh, I’m not being arrogant but, most Americans don’t care what the rest of the world thinks. We know that our country is special. Where else on earth has the diversity that we have, we just elected a black man and we just elected, (for the first time in our history), a man that did not come from a political or military background! Who has ever run Europe but, the political class.

You don't know what you're talking about. We Americans don't really care about our presidents being joked about or even mocked. What bothers us is when so-called news agencies engage in it and do so with political bias. And like William said, most Americans don't care what "the rest of the world thinks" regarding our politicians, especially when it doesn't affect them, and rightly so. America doesn't exist to serve "the rest of the world."

William Howell's picture

Absolutely agree!