Pin It

On the Cover: Mark Peterson 

  • Mark Peterson/Redux/Courtesy Fovea Exhibitions

Photographs of politicians are usually the same: immaculate posture, calculated smiles, orchestrated expressions. They're painted more as characters, posing for their audiences. For New York City-based photographer Mark Peterson, this became a challenge to crack. "They want a picture taken from that specific angle because [they] will look the best with that view and backdrop behind them. Everything I try to do is to not take that picture," says Peterson, who is currently following the 2016 presidential candidates as a freelance photographer for MSNBC, Time, and The New Yorker, among others. "That's when I thought, 'I have to be more dramatic.'"

And boy, are these facial expressions worth a thousand words. With his alternative perspective, Peterson focuses his lens on the often ignored—yet essential—details of the shape of the mouth, crinkle of an eyelid, movement of the hands. They're loud, theatrical, and natural, cringe-worthy to any political advisor. Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Peterson uses limited editing through cheap photo apps for enhanced lighting and then switches to black and white, mimicking the raw, on-the-fly snapshots of 1930s political figures.

Peterson has gathered his favorites together as "Political Theater," an exhibit presented by Fovea Exhibitions at Hudson Beach Glass through March 6. "I'm trying to reveal things in the faces and gestures of the candidates that maybe we don't know, or haven't seen." Luckily, the candidates seem to be making it fairly easy for him. Unlike his first campaign following Bill Clinton in '92, the current candidates are erupting with anger, enhancing the drama. "[The candidates are] believing that government isn't working, and are channeling the imagined or real anger from the voting populous," says Peterson. "The rise of Trump and Sanders has made this project even more viable or come to life." The most difficult candidate to break character? Hillary. "For the most part, she tries to demonstrate restraint and belief in her competency. All the other candidates are so angry, they're just going to barge in there and claim house," Peterson says. "I think some of the most revealing photos I've made have been of Hillary. When the curtain is drawn aside and you see a more real person."

This month's cover shot is pressed with power and symbolism. Republican candidate Governor Scott Walker reaches out his arm to the crowd at the Red State Gathering in Atlanta, Georgia this past August. An American flag hovers in the corner. As his hand gestures forward, Walker—like so many other candidates—reaches out for support and trust. "He's basically pleading for people to come aboard his campaign. All of them wrap themselves up in patriotism and the American flag," says Peterson. While Peterson's 35-plus years of photography experience is not solely politically based, he sure has a knack for capturing the type of picture that may be just as important as the speech itself.

Mark Peterson's photographs in "Political Theater" will be on display through March 6 by Fovea Exhibitions on the second floor at Hudson Beach Glass, 162 Main Street in Beacon. Peterson will talk about his work on Saturday, February 13 at 6:30 pm.;

Speaking of...

  • Zan Strumfeld writes about the cover photo for February 2016.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Andrew Lyght Retrospective at the Dorsky

    The Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz mounts the first retrospective of multimedia artist Andrew Lyght.
    • Jan 1, 2016
  • Parting Shot: Susan Copich

    Susan Copich's photographs pack a wry punch. She casts herself front and center throughout her "Domestic Bliss" photo series, alongside her daughters and husband, mocking and engaging viewers in scenes fraught with dark humor.
    • Aug 1, 2015

Hudson Valley Events

submit event

Zero Days

Tue., Feb. 21, 7:15 p.m. and Wed., Feb. 22, 7:15 p.m. — A documentary thriller about the world of cyberwar, the film tells the...

Meeting of End the New Jim Crow Action Network

Wed., Feb. 22, 6-8 p.m. — ENJAN is a Hudson Valley network dedicated to fighting racist policies of...

View all of today's events

Latest in Visual Art

  • On The Cover: Tatana Kellner
  • On The Cover: Tatana Kellner

    Monoprints by Tatana Kellner will be exhibited as part of the show "The World After January 20, 2017: Works by Contemporary Artists and Poets" at Vassar's Palmer Gallery.
    • Feb 1, 2017
  • Art of Business: Catskill Art & Office Supply
  • Art of Business: Catskill Art & Office Supply

    Owner, Paul Solis-Cohen, speaks to over three decades of success for Catskill Art & Office Supply.
    • Feb 1, 2017
  • Parting Shot: Lisa Durfee
  • Parting Shot: Lisa Durfee

    Lisa Durfee’s documentation of unnoticed parts of shabby chic Hudson currently being shown at the Hudson Opera House.
    • Feb 1, 2017
  • More »

More by Zan Strumfeld

  • Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice

    Voices Carry
    • Jul 1, 2016
  • Circus's Next Phase

    Aaron M. Marquise grew up in the Saratoga County village of Round Lake as the class clown: full of energy, silly, and often getting into trouble.
    • Jun 1, 2016
  • On the Cover: Thomas Ruff

    If you've stared at this month's cover shot and questioned your fourth-grade planet-naming abilities, don't. You were right—it is Saturn.
    • Apr 1, 2016
  • More »

Hudson Valley Tweets