The picture I selected for this assignment, of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, comes from his official campaign website (found at mittromney.com). This picture in particular caught my attention because it, as Barthes says, “offers the voter his own likeness” (91). If not for a few details – the background being mostly blurred out, there being a prominently displayed sign featuring Romney’s name and campaign slogan, and the fact that Romney himself is the main focus of the photograph – Romney looks like an average man. The lines and wrinkles on his face are present and not difficult to spot, his hair is grey around the ears, and his wardrobe is not extremely different from that of an average guy going out in public on the weekend. His shirt does not appear to be particularly expensive, and the collar is also open, and the coat he’s wearing, what little can be seen in the photograph, looks to be fairly casual as well. There isn’t much in Romney’s appearance alone that sets him immediately apart from the average man, and based on the posing of the picture, he seems to be almost part of the crowd behind him.
This photograph seems to display an odd three-quarters portrait of Romney. The face is pointed mostly at the camera, if not completely, although his gaze is off to the viewer’s left instead of directly into the camera lens and, by extent, directly at the viewer. Although Romney’s entire face is visible in extensive detail, I would say this is more three-quarters than full face, due to the way the gaze is pointed. As Barthes would say, Romney’s “gaze is lost nobly in the future” (93). The set of his mouth is definitely not a smile, although it’s not a scowl either – it seems to be more a look of concern, which appears to suggest that he, like the voters he is attempting to pull in, is concerned about the future of the country. The way the light hits Romney’s face, fully illuminating one side while leaving the other partially in shadow, adds to the sense that he is concerned about the future, as do the lines and wrinkles noticeable on Romney’s face. The wrinkles suggest, accurately, that Romney is not a young man. They also suggest that he has experience, which is also accurate – Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, and a quick glance at his official bio on the website reveals that he has experience in organizational and management positions in the private sector as well as the political sector. The posing of the photograph that he is already tackling the problems of the country’s future.
Perhaps the only detriment to the photograph is the lack of apparent patriotism. The photograph does not feature a flag of any sort, not even a lapel pin. Despite this, however, Romney still appears appealing – he has wisdom, experience, and obvious concern, and he comes across, at least in this photograph, as a fairly approachable, average guy.