It's nice to see all the participants identified and to see the names of 3 people who you'd think might be there but were not (and to know they participated "via secure teleconference from Washington"), but I think it's silly to purport to be explaining what the photograph "tells" us and to go wandering into one's own mind and finding associations:
What does the photo evoke?If we're going to compare the photographs, there are some notable differences. Trump is sitting at the head of his table, with his advisers arrayed around him. Obama is off to one side, at approximately the position of the Secretary of Commerce in the Trump photo.
The photo has already been likened to the iconic picture of former President Barack Obama huddled with his national security team in the White House Situation Room as they monitor via live video the killing of Osama bin Laden. The picture is shot from the same angle, with the president receiving a briefing on the operation he just ordered.
At the head of Obama's table is the one man in uniform (Marshall B. Webb, the Assistant Commanding General of the Joint Special Operations Command). In the Trump photo, there is also one man in uniform. He's the only person in the photograph standing — he's standing at the door — and the only person CNN doesn't identify. In the Obama photograph, many participants are standing, not just the doorkeeper.
Another difference is that in the Obama photograph, the table is covered with laptops and 2 participants — Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates — have paper cups, perhaps coffee cups. In the Trump photograph, there are no laptops on the table, and nobody but the President has a drink. It's water, and it's in a glass.
If we're going to talk about what photos "tell" us and drag in this second photograph, let's not stop at squeeing over its iconicness. Let's ask what the difference between the 2 photographs tells us. You may think this is trivial, but I'm just following CNN's lead here. You could infuse a lot of meaning into the differences. The distinction I indentified could be used to spin out an interpretation that Trump is more presidential, more commanding, etc. etc.
If interpreting photographs is what we're doing.