Communication Arts Photography Annual is a bit Obama Heavy

By Matt Van Hoven 

As an avid Communication Arts reader, I’ve grown accustomed to the content therein. It’s a must-have in any creative’s bookshelves. In fact, I can’t recall entering an ad-office without seeing a few hundred of them lying around somewhere.

From design to illustration to copy and photography, the publication covers the trends, focusing a lot of time and attention on the “art” of communication. Duh, it’s called Communication Arts for a reason.


As a rule, I tend to get bored, quickly with the editorial content. It’s a bit self-serving for my tastes; yet the work within is always important to recognize.

And this month’s photography annual was no different. I love getting it because it offers an opportunity to look at the work behind the copy in an unfettered format. It’s clean, as they say. And while I also enjoy reading copy &#151 the photog. annual is rare dereliction from the norm.

But this month’s edition struck me as markedly political. The lead into editor/publisher Patrick Coyne’s column reads, “…this year’s photography competition was…a compelling depiction of the past year’s events.”

Compelling indeed, considering the number of photos that captured political figures including presidential candidates, Henry Kissinger, the president himself and others. Included were Hillary Clinton (1 photo), George W. Bush (1 photo), Kissinger (1 photo), Vladimir Putin (1 photo), John Edwards (1 photo), Rudy Giuliani (1 photo), John McCain (4 photos and one of his wife), Mike Huckabee, and Barack Obama (10 photos).

More after the jump.

Based on the body count alone, it would be fair to presume that there were many entries for Senator Obama. But take a quick peak at those pictures and those of Senator McCain and you’ll see two very different representations of each candidate. As objectively as I can put it, McCain comes off as guarded, well represented and quasi-presidential.

Obama, on the other hand, appears as something else. Each of the 10 photos portrays a man who is fighting something bigger than himself, whereas McCain comes off as, almost, carefree and self-assured. There are no images of Sen. McCain deep in thought, though the opposite is true in more than one of Sen. Obama’s moments.

I feign to editorialize on CA’s judges’ voting choices, but I can’t help wonder how so many of them dropped their beans in cups next to his image. It’d be an interesting conversation to have given the recent ads espousing his celebrity status. Are we really that drawn to him, or was the work just that good? Pick up a copy and check for yourselves.