Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Platon: Master Of The Portrait Of Power
Artistic, charming and apolitical, Platon has captured intense and revealing photographs of world leaders. The photographer refrains from passing judgment on these subjects—he invites the viewer to do it.
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Platon: It's important to not get obsessed with technique. You have to be the master of your photographic tools, not a slave to them. It's the content and the story you're trying to tell. Photographers can get blinded by the science and forget that the whole point of taking a picture is to tell a story. The greatest photos in history are often not the most technically proficient, but the ones that have something that moves us into action. That's the power of photography.
DPP: Is it very quiet between you and the subject?
Platon: It varies because they vary. Sometimes, they're very gregarious. Other times, you can hear a pin drop. Mugabe was chillingly quiet. But Jacob Zuma of South Africa was in fits of laughter. He was laughing at me because, by that point, I was delirious and acting like a crazy man. Everybody has their own vibe. A photographer should never mess with that. If you really are observant and allow them to be themselves, you just see this incredible circus of psychology right in front of your eyes.
DPP: What's next for you?
Platon: Now I'm going into reverse gear. I've photographed the powerful, and now I'm going to photograph the powerless, the people that have been robbed of power. You're witnessing a complete change in the Arab world right now, and it's all based on human rights. We're definitely witnessing a time of people power. With technology now allowing everybody to learn about what's going on in the rest of the world, I think people are rising up, for better or for worse, and trying to make a stand.
DPP: The question is, if some of these people rise to powerful positions, will it end up in an Animal Farm scenario. In Orwell's book, when the pigs got power, they became like the farmers they were protesting.
Platon: I think power does distort, for sure. The position of power changes the goalposts. You can't get there without people's help. That help is already manipulating your clean record. It's not that people suddenly become corrupt, but to get to that pinnacle of success, you're already tainted from day one when you walk in the room.
To see more of Platon's photography, go to platonphoto.com.
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