Tzipi Livni became the “Barbie”, Shelly Yachimovich had “serious Polishing”, Moshe Kahlon posed as “one of us”. Political portraits photographer tells how he learns “the DNA of the candidate.” Politics has many faces.
Yael Levi, Yediot Achronot, 23.12.08, 23:33
According to Gil Lavi, a political portrait photographer, the lighting arrangement used on candidates is integral to the fantasy sold to us. “The recognition of politicians is mainly through official portraits. For example, the famous photograph of Ariel Sharon looking to the right. A portrait image is what’s etched in the public’s mind, so the second in which it is captured must conquer its heart”, he explains.
Lavi also explains that a portrait can sometimes hurt a candidate’s political campaign,as evident in the current election campaign. “Bibi’s picture conveys something very distant, non-empathetic, and fails to connect with the viewer. Pity – because Bibi is generally an excellent object to shoot. , he is an experienced former Prime Minister and does not have to prove strength. His image in the current campaign seems more appropriate of a young candidate that must prove his status. Bibi does not need to, actually in his case I’d go for something more empathetic.”
“Every politician is photographed in a different and unique way. When I shot Shimon Peres, for example, I took his characteristics into account. Moshe Kahlon, another candidate for elections, embodies an open and pleasant quality and is perceived by the public as “one of us”. Consequently he can be photographed even with a smile.”
“Uri Zaki from Meretz or Yohanan Plesner from Kadima are younger candidates, so we want to create an image of a leader- a much more powerful and dominant photograph. It means that the pictures will be more dramatic and even do things contrary to common perceptions.”
To understand what exactly he wants to get out of his subjects, Lavi tends to carry out a personal conversation with them, sometimes lasting hours long.“We decide together what they want to show. Usually I would be with the candidate alone and sometimes speak with the strategic adviser first. I’m learning what the moral DNA is”, says Lavi.
“I get to high levels of intimacy with the subject and use guided imagination to lead him to certain feelings, to get that look in his eyes which creates the perfect image. Because they aren’t models it’s very interesting to bring out an impressive picture that the viewer can connect to easily.”