December 12, 2007

Capturing the Big Mo: Michele Asselin's Photographs of Mike Huckabee

The Huckabee Factor by Zev Chafets, the cover story of the upcoming issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine and now available online, is accompanied by several images, including a couple of stunning photographs by Michele Asselin. Artful, composed, and aware, these are myth-making images. The former Arkansas governor's political star has risen sharply in recent days, a newsworthy fact that perhaps figured into the NYT's early release of the Huckabee feature story. These images could contribute even more to his Big Mo, but only if he doesn't get into too much trouble with some of his answers to Chafet's questions.

Asselin, a portrait photographer, has captured other celebs and politicians in the past, Hillary among them, but her black and white photographs of Huckabee for the Times, in their sophisticated way, may help translate the candidate (and what a cute name he has) for a big city audience. In one image, Huckabee is wearing a serious dark suit, seated alone in a typical reception space that takes up most of the frame, feet crossed out in front of him and with his hands touching, as if he's biding time for the shoot to be quickly over. He stares at the camera, maybe even glares. Asselin has composed the picture so that his shadow cast on the back wall takes on prescient meaning. It's all so noir.

The other image shows an informal smiling Huckabee, a bit awshucks, but handsome like a movie star, dominating the frame. Composed on a diagonal, Huckabee, now more casual wearing a clean white shirt, leans forward and glances shyly downward, almost giddy. He looks like he's so tickled that he'll fall down. Where the first image of Huckabee seems a little Elliot Ness, this portrait illustrates the buoyancy and affability that Chafets describes in the article.

I never thought of Mike Huckabee as glam, but I do now. I don't plan to vote for him, but he looks really good after losing so much weight.

Website for Michele Asselin, photographer here.

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