Opinion: Iconic Obama poster looks a whole lot like freelancer’s photo

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Everybody now knows this image of President Barack Obama. It’s everywhere on the planet, including T-shirts in foreign lands that don’t care if the White Sox ever make the playoffs.

It’s the Hope poster created by artist Shepard Fairey that became an election campaign icon and now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery (see photo at bottom), showing a wise young man (for a national politician) looking into the future and dreaming of great things for his people.

Except for one thing: The popular poster image of the new president appears strikingly similar to a picture snapped in 2006 by a scrambling freelance photographer named Manny Garcia on assignment for the Associated Press.


It was taken at a Washington National Press Club event 10 months before the unknown freshman Illinois senator announced his obviously impossible presidential candidacy.

And perhaps worse: Instead of gazing at a great future for a great nation, Obama may well have looked thoughtful and moved to think of the future because, a wider photo shows, he was quite likely listening to the remarks of a very conservative Republican senator. Either that or to actor George Clooney talking not about America, but about the horrors of distant Darfur.


A Ticket hat tip to persistent Philadelphia Inquirer photographer Tom Gralish, who did a whole bunch of photo sleuthing, and Howard Mortman, who passed it on.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images