Unshaven and working while on holiday, French President Emmanuel Macron is captured candidly in a photo shared to his official photographers’ Instagram page.
Although Macron has four official photographers, one of them stands out above the others. Soazig de la Moissonniere draws comparisons to Barack Obama’s chief photographer Pete Souza thanks to her talent for capturing unguarded moments.
De la Moissonniere was recently with the President during his three-and-a-half-week holiday to the French Riviera capturing him working out with a trainer, shirtless with his wife on a boat, and even surfing on a hydrofoil board. The photos won de la Moissonniere and Macron praise in the French media.
Inspired by Obama
Commentators believe that de la Moissonniere’s photos serve to cast Macron as a breaker of tradition, showing that he is a modern man.
“It resembles the photos of Barack Obama and is inspired by the desire to go against convention in terms of communication,” Jean-Luc Mano, a political PR adviser and journalist, tells The Times of London.
Souza was famed for his behind-the-scenes photos of Obama during his time in office, capturing the former president larking around with children, intimate moments with his wife Michelle, or playing basketball.
“I wouldn’t say Macron is copying Obama,” adds Mano. “It’s just that in terms of communication, whatever happens in the U.S. reaches France two or three years later at the earliest.”
Not everyone in France is happy with this approach to portraying the President. When Russia invaded Ukraine, de la Moissonniere posted photos of Macron with stubble on his chin while wearing a hoodie. Skeptics took this as Macron trying to copy President Zelensky’s look. “Macron is bordering on the ridiculous,” wrote Libération, a left-wing daily.
— Madame Figaro (@Madamefigaro) August 23, 2023
Some political commentators have questioned the photographer’s role entirely.
“Soazig de La Moissionnière is paid with taxpayers’ money to photograph the president. The question of her remuneration is totally opaque. Nobody knows how much she earns. Does the [French] Republic need so many official images of its president? Is it for taxpayers to pay for them?” says Bruno Donnet on Europe 1 radio.
Despite the criticism, de la Moissionnière seems popular with over 212,000 followers on Instagram which is three times as many as President Biden’s chief photographer Adam Schultz. However, it must be noted Schultz doesn’t post as much as de la Moissionnière.
Image credits: All photos by Soazig de la Moissonniere.