Via New York Times, President Trump met with Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, in the White House last week. American journalists were barred, but Russia released photographs. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry.

What I Missed in the Russian White House Photos the First Time

by Michael Shaw


When you heard Trump revealed top secret information to the Russians, were you surprised? I was. But not because Trump has proven himself history’s greatest political quick study. It was because I didn’t realize Trump, Lavrov and Kislyak actually had a meeting. Of the 7 pictures taken by the Russian photographer in the Oval Office, I’d mostly seen the ones of the men on their feet, like the whole thing was more a meet-and-greet. I imagine the shots in this tweet are the pix you mostly saw too, right?

It’s an easy assumption to draw. If you Google “Trump Lavrov Oval Office,” you will also mostly see the standing photos. It wasn’t until last night, in fact, that I actually fixed on Trump and Lavrov facing each in the Oval Office’s famous, fireside seats. (Of course, now that Trump’s breach is blowing up, the face-to-face is getting more play).

(RFM via Flickr)Встреча Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова с Президентом США Д.Трампом, Вашингтон, 10 мая 2017 года | Meeting by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President of the United States of America Donald Trump, Washington, May 10, 2017. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry.

Even still, it didn’t read “meeting” to me.

That’s probably because the shot, which mostly comes up on the Google search, is the tighter of two different versions. I might have picked this up from the Russian Foreign Ministry Flickr album the first time, but when I visited last week, the page took forever to load.

Anyway, the wider version of the photo, which hardly anybody published (it’s the photo at the top of this post, which you can see more yuge-ly here), does seem to change things. How so? Well, do you see those pant legs on the right on the couch? The ones that are crossed, like they aren’t going anywhere? Then, in the very bottom left of the photo, behind the pale pink roses, can you see the fragment of another leg on the opposite couch? I don’t know whose legs these are, but we know from accounts (and this other Russian photo) that Team Lavrov had a whole entourage. I haven’t checked who Trump had in the meeting, but we know from yesterday’s revelation that he had enough people there to talk to people who weren’t there, to call the CIA and the National Security Council and say that Trump seriously blew it.

But back to the photo. A sit down in front of the fireplace is more substantive than Trump and a couple of Russians standing around for a meet-and-greet. But, with the addition of Trump, Lavrov and those other pairs of pants, what we’ve got are the real trappings of a meeting. The meeting that spilled the beans.


Originally published by Reading The Pictures, the only site dedicated to the daily review of news and documentary photography. Sign up for the Reading The Pictures Week in Re-View email. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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