Platon, one of the worlds most famous photographers, who would rather describe himself as a ‘Storyteller’, tells us of his experience in capturing the portrait of Vladimir Putin for Time magazine’s Person of the Year. Platon is known for his images of world leaders, having photographed many of the world’s most powerful people.
In the video, he describes the high level security when he arrived in Moscow, ‘At gunpoint I am led into the building’. Highlighting how the presence of such force emphasises the power of the figures he photographs.
He then illustrates how he used The Beatles as a subject of conversation to break down barriers and build connection with Putin.
‘It was that connection that allowed me to get close because he suddenly realised I’m not scared of him, I’m not intimidated by him, I’m there to do an honest portrait of a person, that’s how I got the truth, and the truth is that’s the face of power, the face of cold authority.’
Ironically, although the purpose of the portrait was to show the power and authority of his subject, Putin’s opposition have taken the portrait and are using it as the iconography of their fight against his leadership.
‘When the people claim the picture and it somehow connects with the times that we’re living in, I mean that’s the greatest honour we could wish for, what I’m striving for is to humanise the power system. To ask a very important question, who are you? Who are you really? ’
We love the thought that can be provoked by powerful imagery and how something as seemingly benign as a photograph can be used in so many ways.