(English translation below; at bottom, an analysis of presidential photos as done in my exam today):
Aujourd’hui était vraiment juste un autre jour. Mon cours de la photographie était un petit examen mais c’était très facile. J’ai écrit quatre feuilles en français et fini très tôt. Entre le cours et le déjeuner, je me suis assise avec Nia et Lauryn à Calendal pour utiliser l’Internet et finir des choses sur ligne. Nous avons eu une bonne conversation au sujet de la racisme et l’existence de KKK où j’habite (mon voisin est un membre). J’ai mangée encore à Les 2 Suds dans L’Espace de Van Gogh. La nourriture était vraiment végétarienne cette fois ; j’ai eu une tarte à la courgette, un gâteaux du chocolat, et du café.
Mon cours du théâtre était un peu diffèrent aujourd’hui. Nous avons fait la même chose comme d’habitude (nous lisons Antigone, donc aujourd’hui nous faisions des comparaisons entre des versions différents de la pièce), mais j’ai répondu à beaucoup de questions. En général, je ne parle pas beaucoup parce que c’est ennuyeux. Je pense que j’ai devenue très marre avec la vitesse des cours ici. Après le cours du théâtre, j’ai attendu pour travailler avec Alex sur notre projet. Il a décidé de prendre une visite guidée, donc j’attendais encore.
Chez moi, j’ai regardé un film sur mon ordinateur et cuit des pates, de l’oignon, et de la mozzarella. Ma mère d’accueil était revenue très tard et je n’ai pas reçu un SMS d’Alex. Je suis partie pour courir dans la nuit et j’ai arrêté un peu à côté de l’école pour utiliser le Wifi. Voilà, j’ai vu un message d’Alex sur Facebook que son portable n’a plus les crédits. Mais il a pris une bonne photo pour le projet que nous avons décidé de l’utiliser. J’ai continué de courir et, chez moi, discuté avec ma mère d’accueil au sujet des films et des photos avant de dormir.
Today was really just another day. My photography class was a small test but it was very easy. I wrote four pages in French and finished very early. Between class and lunch, I sat with Nia and Lauryn at Calendal to use the Internet and finish things online. We had a good conversation about racism and the existence of the KKK where I live (my neighbor is a member). I ate again at Les 2 Suds in the Van Gogh Space. The food was truly vegetarian this time; I had a zucchini tart, a chocolate cake, and coffee.
My theatre class was a little different today. We did the same things as usual (we are reading Antigone, thus today we made comparisons between different versions of the piece), but I responded to a lot of questions. In general, I don’t speak a lot because it’s boring. I think that I became very fed up with the speed of the classes here. After theatre class, I waited to work with Alex on our project. He decided to take a guided tour, so I waited again.
At home, I watched a film on my computer and cooked pasted, onion, and mozzarella. My host mom returned home very late and I didn’t receive a text from Alex. I left to run in the night and stopped a little outside of school to use the Wi-Fi. I found a message from Alex on Facebook that his phone had run out of credits, but he took a good photo for the project that we decided to use. I continued to run and, back at my house, discussed with my host mom some films and photos before sleeping.
OFFICIAL PRESIDENTIAL PORTRAIT ANALYSIS
The subject of our exam today was to compare two French president’s official portraits. I’d never realized that there are such things as “official portraits”, but I understand the significance of the symbolism and the impressions the photos give based on the exam and also my recollection of historical figures from the past. Think of class George Washington and Abraham Lincoln with their notorious wig and hat. How would we view them if they’d looked any different in their portraits? If they didn’t have a portrait at all?
Official portrait of Sarkozy.
The first was a portrait of Sarkozy and it was entirely intimidating. I wrote about all of the details, including the play of the shadows on his right hand, the position of the French flag in relation to the president, and the equal presence of the French and Union flags on the left of the photo. I even commented on the studiousness of the background and the darkness of the rest of the photo. I decided it is a good photo for the other countries to see and interpret Sarkozy as a strong leader. But I also decided Sarkozy appears unapproachable to his people as he looks down at the cameraman from his position of power.
Official portrait of Hollande.
The second portrait was of Hollande, the current president who followed Sarkozy. I liked the photo, but after some analysis I could see how it is a little too comical. From a political standpoint, Hollande does not seem very serious and reliable. He is extremely approachable, as he casually stands in his backyard and smiles, but a lot of purpose is lost in the image. The upper half is very bleached out, the half that includes the presidential house and two flags in the extreme distance. A tree even interferes unprofessionally in the upper right corner, although that distraction creates a balance and draws attention to the two flags on the buildings in the distance.
Joking representation of Hollande.
I concluded in my paper that, from a professional standpoint, Sarkozy has a better photo but that, from a member of society’s standpoint, the president represents the people and therefore a more ordinary photo like Hollande’s is also desirable.
Official portrait of Obama.
Then I decided to look at Barack Obama’s photo. I’m really not a fan of Obama by any means, but I have to say that his photo is a good one. I think it’s the best way to combine professionalism and approachableness in the same photo. He seems gentle yet firm in his face. He is very close to the photographer, but I feel this is appropriate considering his face represents our country. The flags in the background are prominent but the background itself is not overruling in any way. Furthermore, I like the classic flag pin that he wears like a badge. I feel that it is a good representation of the country. It was probably taken at the White House, but that is not evident thus one could view him as a mobile figure, taking his duties around the world with equal representation.
It was a very interesting experience comparing the photos and I think I will take it into consideration more often. I already judge people by their Facebook profile pictures, but I think rightfully so. One thing I hate about profile photos is when girls shoot pictures where their faces are hardly included, but their cleavage is the main attraction. What does that say? “I want attention for the wrong reasons”, “I don’t have an attractive face”, “My body isn’t that great, but you don’t need to know that if I take a picture like this”,… and so on. So what do the photos you choose to represent yourself actually say about, well, you? It’s something to think about and it continues my post last week about Alex and my photo project on identity and government-issued numbers.