PNW Pioneer

Platon’s “trip through power”discusses leadership, authenticity

Platon+signs+copies+of+his+book+at+the+Sinai+Forum.
Platon signs copies of his book at the Sinai Forum.

Platon signs copies of his book at the Sinai Forum.

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Platon signs copies of his book at the Sinai Forum.

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Platon, international photographer, provided details and anecdotes surrounding his published photographs of international leaders at the Oct. 7 Sinai Forum on the Westville campus.

Known for his publications in The New York Time magazine, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Esquire and GQ, Platon described his presentation as a “trip through power as I have been privileged to see it.” After sharing an anecdote about one of his subjects, Lola, a 28 year old homeless woman living on the streets of Moscow, Platon described his encounters with the Obamas, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin.

Platon photographed then-Senator Barack Obama 24 minutes after he announced his candidacy for president in the New York Times Magazine. He discussed how the now former president surprised him.

“He’s much more cautious than we would expect,” Platon said. “I noticed he was reading a selfhelp book. It was a big book called Be Quiet, Be Heard: How to Raise Delicate Issues With an Opponent and Yet Still Find Common Ground.”

When describing his portrait of Michelle Obama, Platon said, “I am very proud of this picture because it has nothing to do with politics, it represents a cultural moment in America’s history.”

This description contrasts his photoshoot with former President George W. Bush, at which Platon felt he “failed as a photographer who aims for a true moment.” During the shoot, President Bush pointed his fingers into Platon’s chest before saying, “you better be photographing a guy that’s happy and not some kind of snarler,” according to Platon.

Platon speculated that his demand stemmed from the nature of his life after the presidency.

“What was happening is he had left office and now he had something he never had before: time, time to reflect on his legacy. Time to think about all the things he got right but also some of the things he got wrong.”

Platon emphasized the importance of placing small bets on yourself and being authentic. He recalled doing so in his first world leader photo shoot with President Bill Clinton, where, after a moment of self-doubt, Platon shouted, “Mr. President, will you show me the love?”

In 2007, Platon photographed Russian Premier Vladimir Putin for TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year” cover. Platon said that they discussed the Beatles during the shoot.

Platon concluded his presentation with final words that led to a standing ovation from the audience.

“It’s our time to lead, not mislead. To the politicians who divide us for votes, to the technology tycoons who profit from our echo chamber. I say this, what kind of people do you think we are,” Platon said. “Yes, your phobia is infectious; but so is our commitment to belong to something beautiful again. We will not go down as the generation of connectivity that disconnected itself. I think we are ready to rekindle the spirit of optimism. The battle of persuasion rages on, but our sleeves are rolled; I think we’re ready with greatness in our hearts to reclaim our time.”

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