May 21, 2019

When did everyone decide that the photo angle for a selfie was from the perspective of someone looking down on me?

Look, it's Joe Biden, doing what I think was once just a silly, vain thing for young women to do:



I know people look saggy and grumpy looking down into their phones. I was just commenting on that here, where a NYT photographer had captured people at a Biden event looking "dull and inert" in part because some were staring down into their iPhones.

But just because looking down is bad doesn't mean you've got to go to the opposite extreme. Traditionally, a portrait is done looking pretty much straight into the subject's eyes:



Seeing eye to eye is an expression that means agreement. (That expression probably first appeared in English in translations of the Bible: "For they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion" (Isaiah 52:8, King James Bible).) Isn't that sense of agreement — and equality and harmony — something a politician should want?

My screen capture of Joe Biden comes from a WaPo front-page teaser for "Trump says Biden ‘deserted’ Pennsylvania. In Scranton, he’s a ‘hometown boy.’" As the article points out, Biden's father — looking for better job opportunities — moved the family from Scranton to Wilmington, Delaware when young Joe was only 10. So it was kind of jerky for Trump to say to the crowd at yesterday's rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania last night, "Biden deserted you. I guess he was born here, but he left you, folks. He left you for another state."

Biden will be stressing his Pennsylvanianess, of course, over his Delawareness, because Pennsylvania is a big swing state and Delaware is a tiny blue state. And Trump will be antagonizing him on that subject: "This guy talks about ‘I know Scranton.’ Well, I know the places better. He left you for another state and he didn’t take care of you, because he didn’t take care of your jobs." That is, the question isn't where a candidate has his personal roots, but what did he do for the people of that place? Biden was a Senator and — aside from the fact that he represented Delaware — he was in a position for a long long time to push for policies that would help the people of the states he now needs to vote for him, and — as Trump puts it — "he didn’t take care of you, because he didn’t take care of your jobs."

Biden's father is responsible for the family's move. That's not on Biden. But Biden's father was in search of a job, and that's a basis for caring deeply about the loss of job opportunity in Pennsylvania. How did that motivate Biden as he lived out his political career? That's a good question, and it's not answered by going on about Biden being a Scranton guy at heart.

66 comments:

Chris-2-4 said...

I don't think anyone DECIDED it, people just REALIZED it. The shot from slightly above is generally more flattering. That's all.

Henry said...

People lift up the phone to capture more people in the picture.

Curious George said...

"Henry said...
People lift up the phone to capture more people in the picture."

This.

Fernandistein said...

One of them moaner lisers texting

AJ Lynch said...

I'm from Philly and have followed Slow Joe Biden's less than impactful career. I've never heard anyone claim his father cleaned boilers for a living. So this story is probably BS.

Ann Althouse said...

" The shot from slightly above is generally more flattering."

Slightly above????

The Mona Lisa might be from slightly above.

Biden — like all sorts of people these days — is holding the camera about as far up as he can get it, giving the viewer of the photograph the perspective of a parent looking at a child or a monarch at a supplicant or Bill Clinton at Monica Lewinsky.

LakeLevel said...

People take it from above because that's what they see celebrities doing. The reason celebs do it is because their professional image makers tell them to. A portrait from above or leaning forward makes the body look smaller and stretches the neck to thin it. Next time you get an ID photo, lean forward.

tim maguire said...

The main reason is the one you touched on first--people look better that way. When you're looking down gravity exaggerates the wrinkles, but when you're looking up the skin is stretched and tighter. It's most people's best look.

Plus looking up is hopeful, confident, optimistic. Which is a good look for a politician.

n.n said...

It's the selfie empathy angle.

BarrySanders20 said...

Also forces you to look up which eliminates one or more double neck-chins. It's not all about the vanity, but it's part of it

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm from Philly and have followed Slow Joe Biden's less than impactful career. I've never heard anyone claim his father cleaned boilers for a living. So this story is probably BS."

From a NYT article published in October 2008, "Father’s Tough Life an Inspiration for Biden":

"While Mr. Biden has described his early youth as stable and relatively carefree, his father suffered a number of business reversals, and for several years when Joe Jr. was young the Bidens were forced to move in with his mother’s parents, the Finnegans, in their modest home on North Washington Avenue in Scranton. Though Scranton was sharing in the postwar economic boom, Joe Sr. had trouble finding steady work, and nothing that measured up to his previous success. For a time, he commuted to Wilmington to clean boilers for a heating and cooling company. In 1953, he moved the family there."

rehajm said...

I guess he was born here, but he left you, folks. He left you for another state.

Used by a Republican- Four Pinocchios!!!

Use by a Democrat: Mostly True!

Limited blogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
elkh1 said...

Father moved out in search of job, son returned home creating jobs in the community. Then he is a "hometown boy".

Father moved out in search of job, son got rich and ignored the town where he was born, and came back as a "hometown boy" to gull gullible voters' support.

Father moved out in search of job, son plagiarized a foreign politician's biography. Was son ashamed of father and town?

traditionalguy said...

That's it! Run Mona Lisa.

LYNNDH said...

And why did Biden Sr. have trouble finding work?
So Biden told this story? Remember he plagiarizes things.
Biden is a "working man"? Ha! Been on public dole for a very long time. Of course he had 8 yrs of a long nap just recently.

Virgil Hilts said...

I'm guessing its the woman-to-his-left's camera and JB is holding it high to get her (and maybe one or two of her friends) in the photo. Could be wrong. But seems weird that Joe would take selfies in a crowd with his own camera.

Unknown said...

The selfie angle from above allows the taker to get a lot of people into the shot.

You can't do that eye-to-eye. But it's easy to get 5, 8, or 10 people in a selfie when done from above.

Chuck said...

Yes; taking a selfie from a higher angle allows the taker to get a lot of people into the shot.

AJ Lynch said...

Good catch Althouse - truly I had never heard this story. I stand corrected but still believe it is BS.

P.S. wouldn't it be useful if we could get the tax info of candidate's families from social security to validate these tales of woe? I mean if they can hound Trump, I say let' s punch back at Slow Joe.

Kevin said...

If PA was solid blue would Joe even be there now?

Carol said...

A full body shot from head level makes people look short-legged, too. A good photographer takes a knee.

Henry said...

" The shot from slightly above is generally more flattering."

Check out the shot from below.

Kevin said...

A Google search for: Joe Biden "jobs for scranton" turned up one result.

One. From 2009.

The article is about whether to renew tax breaks for Scranton developers. It doesn't mention Joe Biden at all.

Joe is mentioned in one of the linked articles on the page. it's about how Obama grew to like him over time and made him his VP.

It begins: "Barack Obama did not think Joe Biden should run for president — he hardly needed to say it out loud for aides to understand that."

Nobody said...

Somebody should ask Biden about fracking. That won’t put him on the spot much in PA. Or steel tariffs.

Nobody said...

Trump goes to work every day like he’s PA’s personal president.

Nobody said...

I really think that Biden should be pressed on his climate change stand, but not until he safely has the nomination.

Eddie Jetson said...

The high angle takes care of differences in height. At six feet tall, Joe discovered it's an easy way to get someone shorter into the photo.

Nobody said...

If the WaPo says PA loves Biden, you can take that to the bank!

So the WaPo is shilling for him, and the NYT is poo pooing him.

John Ray said...

"or Bill Clinton at Monica Lewinsky." Now, that's funny, had to clean the screen.

Nobody said...

“Do you guys on Wall Street have something in your desks that makes steel? Where is fertilizer, cement, plastic going to come from? Do planes fly through the sky because of some number you put in a spreadsheet?” - Bill Gates

Somebody should ask the Democrats that.

Nonapod said...

So the WaPo is shilling for him, and the NYT is poo pooing him.

Evidently the NYT needs to get with the program. In some poorly lit room somewhere it has been decided: Kamala is dead. It's Biden all the way. The deciders have spoken.

Henry said...

Funny to see Bill Gates spouting the labor theory of value.

Nobody said...

Funny to see Bill Gates spouting the labor theory of value.

I don’t think that’s what he’s doing, but I am always interested in discussions of that concept.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

at least it isnt the "Duck-faced selfie" with the fake gang hand signal

walter said...

If Biden has a high profile moment where his recently surfaced mush mouth kicks in, the geriatric element could have major impact.

MayBee said...

Grab your iPhone and experiment. I think you'll see tilting your head up toward the camera is more flattering.

Leland said...

Henry nailed it in second comment. It simply is the angle needed to get more people in the shot. It is why large group photos either are taken from a ladder or the group stands on a riser or those in front take a knee.

Also the sun rises in the East because of the Earth's direction of rotation.

AllenS said...

It's Slow Joe Biden, who forever has been saying: "I'm from Scranton PA". He has never said in that statement: "I left Scranton PA when I was 10."

Any wonder why? Slow Joe is a blowhard.

walter said...

Obama selfie at Mandela memorial

chuck said...

Gotta wonder what Biden would be like as President. He's not terribly bright, is corrupt and habitually dishonest, but all in the traditional Democrat way. In that sense, he is a conservative.

Jamie said...

On selfies: my husband has an old high school acquaintance who enhanced her assets a few years ago (in short, boob job). Ever since then, she posts daily on FB a picture of herself and her husband enjoying life, always from that Godlike angle... and always wearing something mighty low-cut. Most impressive, for a woman of our age.

AJ Lynch said...

Don't kid yourself Chuck, Biden is as far left as any of the Dem candidates except maybe Bernie and DeBlasio.

chuck said...

@AJ Lynch

Wrong chuck, and I think it misled you in reading the post.

c365 said...

If you're trying to fit multiple people into a shot, you can't do it straight on. Straight on is just your face, maybe part of someone's next to you. Angled up and away from you gets more into the shot.

Gojuplyr831@gmail.com said...

Slow Joe now claims e started the climate change movement.

Next, he'll be claiming he helped Al Gore invent the internet.

Bruce Hayden said...

“Gotta wonder what Biden would be like as President. He's not terribly bright, is corrupt and habitually dishonest, but all in the traditional Democrat way. In that sense, he is a conservative.”

My guess is that he would be similar to Obama in awarding departments to people representing major Dem constituencies, and then letting them run them as personal fiefdoms. That seems to be the favorite Dem management practice any more. Mostly hands off. More conciliatory to China. He seems like them, and most importantly, $$$$$$$ for the family. The good news is that I don’t see him taking a personal interest in weaponizing the Intelligence, judicial, and diplomatic sectors of the government for political purses, nor do I think that he would personally want to see illegally obtained surveillance on his political opponents, as Obama seems to have. Overall, probably a moderately unenergetic Presidency, more corrupt than GW Bush’s or Trump’s Administrations, but not as corrupt as Obama’s, or even Clinton’s.

Fen said...

enhanced her assets a few years ago (in short, boob job). Ever since then, she posts daily on FB a picture of herself and her husband enjoying life, always from that Godlike angle... and always wearing something mighty low-cut.

Before I was more ahem experienced, I sleuthed out a college girlfriend had gotten a boob job because of the way she used them during sex, like an accessory not a part of her body she had grown up with. Well, that and they were perfect.

Steve Witherspoon said...

Who gives a crap what angle a selfie is taken from, the fact that people think they "need" to take loads of selfies should be between them and their psycho therapist.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

look at those 2 pics-- you can almost hear Mona L say

"'Hometown boy' may ass."

La Gioconda and Lo GiantCon

bagoh20 said...

Washington DC is where Biden is a "hometown boy". That's where he spent the most time, the most money, and bought the most friends. I bet he has a tattoo of the Capitol Building on his ass.

RobinGoodfellow said...

“Biden's father is responsible for the family's move.”

Yes. However, who is responsible for Biden’s failure to move back to Scranton? If Biden wants to tout the fact that he once lived there (even though, as Ann points out, Biden himself is not responsible for this), isn‘t it fair to criticize his move away and failure to return?

Henry said...

@Nobody -- I extrapolated in the direction of sarcasm. I can see Bill's point. But there's something about Bill's quote and its reductive complaint that points in the direction of the labor-theory's jettisoning of capital as a contributor to production.

Bill Peschel said...

Returning a Biden or even any Democrat to the White House will return the country to its downward course. More illegal immigrants (favored by Dems and the national Chamber of Commerce), renewed hurting in the heartland, more money wasted on "green" jobs that go to their campaign contributors, continued war overseas by our turned-mercenary U.S. military, and more racial healing.

Everything else, including Biden's relationship with Scranton, are irrelevant non-starters.

Kay said...

He might also be tilting the camera down to include the people in the background in the shot, give a sense of the crowd surrounding him.

Lewis Wetzel said...

The Democrat base will not allow Biden, or any other candidate, to appeal to white working class men. These are the deplorables, and, as Hillary said, they are not redeemable.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Delaware is smaller than Hawaii, in land area and in population.
for all of his senate career, Biden has represented corporate lawyers, and insurance and credit card companies.
I have never heard a working a working person express anything about Biden. It's the news media -- based in DC, and NY, that believe his bullshit about understanding the needs of working Americans.

Nobody said...

I extrapolated in the direction of sarcasm. I can see Bill's point. But there's something about Bill's quote and its reductive complaint that points in the direction of the labor-theory's jettisoning of capital as a contributor to production.

The whole thing is pretty good, it was a reply to people who thought that they could force the economy to run on renewables by adding a score to every stock and letting the market take care of it.

https://twitter.com/seeker401/status/1130673129548738560

Nobody said...

Weird how none of the news outlets except on the right picked up the item about the crack pipe found in Hunter Biden’s rental car. Shouldn’t primary voters know what they are voting on?

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/05/17/exclusive-2016-arizona-police-report-cocaine-pipe-found-in-car-rented-by-joe-bidens-son-hunter-biden-authorities-declined-to-prosecute/

I am sure no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute the son of a powerful politician, that’s the reasoning.

rcocean said...

Biden is supposed to put the Moderate face on the crazy Democrats. He has that "Good Ol' Joe" manner. He reminds me, in a way, of that old actor Walter Huston. Always played uber-Americans. He was, in fact, a hardcore Stalinst, and a pretty nasty one.

rcocean said...

Let's be honest. In a sane world Deleware, RI, and Vermont would not be states. Why not just work out a deal and have Vermont merge with NY, RI merge with MASS and Deleware merge with MD.

Then to make the liberal/left happy make California into 3 states.

MacMacConnell said...

Notice that you can't find out anything on wiki anymore about how rich his paternal grandfather was or how much Biden's father squandered of that wealth. I imagine Biden's father drank it.

Nobody said...

Vermont continued to govern itself as a sovereign entity based in the eastern town of Windsor for 14 years. Thomas Chittenden acted as chief magistrate of Vermont from 1778 to 1789 and from 1790 to 1791. In the 1780s Chittenden, the Allen brothers, and other political leaders engaged in negotiations with Frederick Haldimand, the British governor of Quebec over the possibility of Vermont becoming a British province. These negotiations ultimately failed in part due to the timely surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781. - Wikipedia

Drago said...

chuck: "@AJ Lynch
Wrong chuck, and I think it misled you in reading the post."

Correct.

"chuck" (lowercase) is perfectly normal.

"Chuck" (uppercase) is the racist, pro-dem, admitted smear merchant, pro-Non-Martyr-Creating assassination of political leaders, attacker of chidren MSNBC/CNN/Maddow fanboy who promotes every single democrat narrative withoutfail.

Lewis Wetzel said...


Blogger Drago said...

chuck: "@AJ Lynch
Wrong chuck, and I think it misled you in reading the post."

Correct.

"chuck" (lowercase) is perfectly normal.

"Chuck" (uppercase) is the racist, pro-dem, admitted smear merchant, pro-Non-Martyr-Creating assassination of political leaders, attacker of chidren MSNBC/CNN/Maddow fanboy who promotes every single democrat narrative withoutfail.


And don't forget -- Trump voter!

JAORE said...

Sure, sure it was jerky of Trump (put down that magnifying glass). But isn't it jerky of Biden to NOT say, "I know Pennsylvania as well as any 10 year old boy could"?