My favorite photo: Carter the cutup

Editor’s note: The photographers in University Relations constantly document the happenings at our fine University, whether they’re clicking away in the classrooms, capturing picturesque moments on campus, or shooting the action at myriad events. We’ve added a new feature to fyi, in which an OUR photographer picks one (or in this case, two) of his favorite photos and shares a story related to the image. Tim Schoon provided today’s images.

I hate shooting group photos. I just hate them. They make me nervous. They’re boring pictures to look at. People in the photo typically don’t want to have their photo taken. It’s often hard to find a backdrop that isn’t too cluttered. Getting decent light on everyone’s face can be tricky. It means I have to arrange people and tell them where to stand.

And there’s always somebody who doesn’t look his or her best in the photo, and, of course, it’s the photographer’s fault. (Of course it is! —ed.)

Oddly enough, one of my favorite photos came when I was shooting a group photo.

Several years ago, Jimmy Carter came to The University of Iowa to speak. The Lecture Committee asked me to shoot some backstage photos of Carter mingling with the Lecture Committee and other University dignitaries. I love shooting behind-the-scenes things, so I jumped at the opportunity even though I knew it meant I’d have to take a series of group photos.

Everything I hate about shooting group photos is magnified when a former president of the United States is in the photo.

But this one went surprisingly well. The students wanted to have their picture taken with Jimmy Carter. The backdrop was good. The light was manageable. Carter was more patient than I could have hoped. Here’s what the photo looked like:

Photo by Tim Schoon. (Click photo to enlarge)

But that’s not my favorite photo.

About the time I thought I was done, someone said, “Let’s do a ‘funny face’ photo.”

Not having any idea what to expect, I said, “Sure. Why not.”

I saw Carter make his funny face, and I clicked the shutter. Here’s what I got:

Photo by Tim Schoon. (Click photo to enlarge)

The thing I love about it is how great Carter was at making his funny face, and just how confused everybody else looks. Wouldn’t you expect it to be the other way around?