Although James K. Polk was the first president to be photographed, it wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln ran for office that a president (or presidential candidate) took advantage of photography to promote their ideas and campaign.Since then, presidents have relied on presidential photographers to document their activities in office.Watch this short video to better understand how presidential photography can help define a presidency and even an entire era in American politics.Instructional IdeasConsult Common Core ELA Literacy Standard 8.2: Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
- Consult the “Questions” tab for discussion questions about how historic and modern presidents have used photography to present their ideas and platforms to the public.
What types of photographs do presidents' photographers take and share with the public?
Take a look at the Nat Geo video above. How did President Abraham Lincoln present himself in photographs? What do you think his motives may have been in presenting himself this way?
Take a look at the Nat Geo video above. How did President John F. Kennedy present himself in photographs? What do you think his motives may have been in presenting himself this way?
Presidential photographers often have to veer between casual imagery and serious historical documentary. How is this addressed in the video?
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry Abraham Lincoln Noun
(1809-1865) 16th American president.
James K. Polk Noun
(1795-1849) 11th American president.
John F. Kennedy Noun
(1917-1963) 35th president of the United States.
art and science of producing still or moving images using the chemical reaction of light on a sensitive surface, such as film or an electronic sensor.
sitting president Noun
incumbent president or president who is currently in office.