At a time of perhaps the worst sort of jingoistic behavior and rhetoric the United States has seen in living memory, life on the planet feels tumultuous. Uncertainty, driven by poor leadership and loose moral footing has spelt turmoil, but amidst the chaos a picture and 140 characters has brought some sense of respite. That’s what our field can do, you know. A picture can move moods and mountains.
Objectively, we, as a collective world population, are witnessing the effects of a turbulent political administration and many are looking to past leadership (or anywhere they can find it) for some semblance of stability. And it doesn’t take much, apparently. The image below was tweeted by President Barack Obama that shows him playfully engaging with children of all different races, accompanied by a quote by Nelson Mandela.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017
Over the course of about a day and a half, this tweet has become the single most liked tweet of all time, currently sitting at 4.2 million likes and 1.2 million retweets. The text by past president and anti-apartheid revolutionary, Mandela, strikes a chord, but the visual says it all without saying a thing.
Shot by Pete Souza, the Obama administration’s official White House Photographer, the image sort of reminds humanity of our humanity, and for us photographers a reminder of what our craft is capable of doing. I think, in that vein, it also serves as a reminder to those of us who spend our time making pictures about the value of storytelling, and that there is more to a great image than camera tricks and technical execution – there’s the subject.