The Story Behind an Iconic Portrait that Had a Massive Political Impact

Famed portrait photographer Platon has some really incredible stories to tell. He’s photographed some of the most powerful people in the world… once with guns trained on him. But his most powerful political portrait wasn’t of a powerful person at all.

In the video above, Platon tells the Huffington Post the story behind an iconic portrait he captured at Arlington National Cemetery in 2008. The photo shows a grieving mother, Elsheba Khan, hugging her son’s grave. Her son, an American Muslim soldier named Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan.

The photo was published in The New Yorker as part of a photo essay called “Service”, and it wound up convincing retired four-star General and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell to publicly endorse then-senator Barack Obama for president.

Retelling the story today, 8 years later, has obvious political motivation given the current US presidential race; but it also says something profound about the power of a photograph. The power of a photograph to change minds; the power of a photograph to capture something timeless and deliver a message across a vast political divide.

(via ISO 1200)