With Body Language Like This, Who Needs a Caption?

INSERT DESCRIPTIONDoug Mills/The New York Times

I was struck by the photo above, which accompanied a Times article about President-elect Obama‘s first news conference.

Not only does it give us a good look at many of Obama’s economic advisers, but it’s a great study of photo-taking body language. Many photographers I know have nicknames for the way people stand when they’re having their pictures taken, and in this picture you can see just about every option:

The “fig leaf” pose (hands coupled and held in front) as exhibited here by Joe Biden, Larry Summers, and others; the “toy soldier” pose (hands stiffly at sides) as exhibited by William Donaldson (far left); what looks to be the “hands-in-pocket” pose, by Paul Volcker, to the immediate right of the podium; and, although you can’t see it in this photo (I saw it in another photo of the event that I can no longer locate), the “firing squad” pose (hands behind back) exhibited by Bob Rubin, who in this photo is mostly hidden behind Biden.

But the real outlier here is Rahm Emanuel, hands on hips, eyes scanning the room, looking ready to intervene in any way necessary. What shall we call this pose? “Football coach”? “Bad cop”? Or, as some have said of Emanuel, “absolute enforcer”?

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  1. erik says:

    Wasn’t there an arms akimbo photo of Al Haig right after Reagan had been shot? Maybe on the cover of Time?

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  2. MRB says:

    Am I the only one who sees a smattering of the “Last Supper” look here?

    There are exactly six people on either side of Obama.

    Maybe I am only seeing what I want to see.

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  3. Fred T says:

    Call it the “Workout.” He certainly looks more likely to do some side-bends than anything else.

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  4. jblog says:

    Rahm Emmanuel — the new Dick Cheney.

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  5. jonathan says:

    I would read Rahm’s stance as “I’ve got your back.” Though he’s not a tall guy, that’s the stance your guy takes.

    Joe Biden’s stance is harder to read because he’s stood on stage so many times and he’s clearly comfortable in that stance no matter what’s in his head. Volecker is relaxed, but most seem to feel the artificiality of the scene and are doing their best to fit in.

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  6. Ira says:

    What you call “firing squad,” I might call “at ease,” since it’s the standard military stance when not at attention. Just a semantic difference, but pretty different connotations there.

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  7. KDG says:

    “Bring it.”

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  8. PaulK says:

    Rahm looks like a secret service guy. He is constantly scanning with his eyes, hands and body positioned to move fast, narrowed eyes, etc. Maybe he is confused by his role? Or maybe this is notice to the press corps: I am making a list…

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