This post isn't about red states or blue states, conservatives or liberals, war or pacifism, or somber funerals juxtaposed against cheerful celebrations of life. It's about photography and the preposterous notion that one single frozen moment can define an entire event.
The uproar over President Obama's self-portrait with First Lady Michelle Obama looking grim beside him reminds me of that infamous shot of the President supposedly not putting his hand over his heart during the National Anthem. Remember: most still images collected by photojournalists are snapped at around one five-hundredth of a second. That's how fast shutter speeds run. In sports, the shutters click even faster. This is why I can capture a picture of a hard-hit tennis ball in mid-air with the logo crisp and the fuzz flying off from three hundred yards away. The result in news situations is that you get images of moments that are absolutely inconsequential yet seem monumental when taken entirely out of context.
Events like Nelson Mandela's memorial service consist of a million moments blended into a complex and rich mosaic. Mourners probably cried in South Africa. They also danced. And three of our living U.S. Presidents and their wives -- along with heads of state from around the world -- shared smiles. Let us be grateful for the times when we come together, and please stop using split-second images to create controversy where none exists.
Visit Nina Ippolito's post at PolicyMic to enjoy more of what you didn't see, like Pete Souza's photo showing Presidents Obama and Bush laughing on a plane.