We have all seen the pictures from Nelson Mandela’s funeral. The ones where president 0bama was taking selfies and yucking it up with an attractive Scandinavia country prime minister while the First Lady was looking away in disdain. Those pictures are available elsewhere. They will not be posted here for reasons that will become clear in the text that follows.
As a photographer myself, I can add unique perspective to this devolving episode.
The photographer screwed up when he published those pictures. By publishing them, he has not only lost control of the story but also significantly tarnished his reputation. Hence the story has been revised into an act of professional reputation preservation.
When I do event photography, website shoots or even street photography, my mantra is that I will not publish, post or print any pictures that could cause public embassment, humiliation or emotional trauma. Yes, my lenses have captured inappropriate expressions that were deleted.
One of the more humurous occasions was taking photos at an HR convention. One of the gals was wearing a knitted top. Due to light conditions, I was using the flash. The flash brilliantly illuminated a certain undergarment. Those pictures were deleted after showing the gal, a good friend, the results. We laughed while deleting. Why do I not publish poor pictures,,,,,,to preserve, protect & advance my reputation as a photographer.
There are other examples stored in the bit bucket below the delete function.
The photographer screwed up when he published those pictures. Any TRUTH now being told is a tale of plausible deniability with the intent of reputation self preservation.
With regards to the expressions themselves. They are pertinent examples of micro-expressions. Those fleeting glimpses of emotional truth reveled through the masks we all wear. The best, simple & most profound elegant explanation is from WikiPedia.
A Micro Expression is a brief, involuntary facial expression shown on the face of humans according to emotions experienced. They usually occur in high-stakes situations, where people have something to lose or gain. Micro Expressions occur when a person is consciously trying to conceal all signs of how he or she is feeling, or when a person does not consciously know how he or she is feeling. Unlike regular facial expressions, it is difficult to hide Micro Expression reactions. Micro Expressions express the six universal emotions: disgust, anger, fear, sadness, happiness, and surprise. Nevertheless, in the 1990s, Paul Ekman expanded his list of emotions, including a range of positive and negative emotions not all of which are encoded in facial muscles. These emotions are amusement, contempt, embarrassment, anxiety, guilt, pride, relief, contentment, pleasure, and shame. They are very brief in duration, lasting only 1/25 to 1/15 of a second.[5
1. The photographer screwed up when he published those photos.
2. President 0bama owes the First Lady a sincere apology.
Your mileage may vary.