John McCain’s iPhone Poker: A Brief History of Long-Lens Gotchas

©The Washington Post. Photo © Melina Mara/Washington Post

©The Washington Post. Photo © Melina Mara/Washington Post

Yesterday photographer Melina Mara of The Washington Post got a photo of Senator John McCain playing poker on his iPhone during the Senate hearing on military action in Syria. Mara’s photo is the most widely seen photo of yesterday’s meeting of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

This isn’t the first time a sharp-eyed photographer has managed to zoom in and figure out what was on a politician’s mind during a long meeting.

© Rick Wilking/Reuters

© Rick Wilking/Reuters

There was the famous close-up of the note that President George Bush slipped to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice during a 2005 UN summit, asking if he could get a bathroom break.

Reuters photographer Rick Wilking photographed the note, and the wire service enlarged the image to make sure the writing was legible before distributing the image.

In 2011, Mario Tama of Getty Images got a shot of the text of the speech Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered to the UN General Assembly, including the revisions he had scribbled on the page– possibly while he was listening to the previous speaker, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Tama told PDNPulse he shot over Netanyahu’s shoulder from a booth above the Assembly using a 400mm lens, and then zoomed into the image in Photoshop to read the words.

The takeaway for photographers: Bring a long lens with you, and remember to look down.

The takeaway for politicians: Look behind you.

Unless, that is, the politician doesn’t care who sees what you’re doing. After he was caught playing online poker during the hearing on Syria, Senator McCain made a sarcastic joke about the photo on Twitter.

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2 Responses to “John McCain’s iPhone Poker: A Brief History of Long-Lens Gotchas”

  1. John McDermott Says:

    In 1975 an alert photographer with a then-new Canon 300/2.8 lens shot Henry Kissinger from above while he was reading a top secret document at the Helsinki peace accords. The document was clearly readable in the photo and a controversy ensued.

  2. Opinion Soup: Camera Gear, Controversies, DIY, Learnings, Interviews, Inspiration, Pro, Business, Comedy, Etc | My Cameras News Says:

    […] business of photography at FStoppers + on voice-overs at DSLR News Shooter + long lens gotchas at PDN Pulse + on selling stolen images at FStoppers + police officer physically threatens photographer once […]