McCain’s movie-monster photo

When the Atlantic sought a portrait of GOP presidential nominee John McCain for the cover of its October 2008 issue, the magazine called self-described “hard-core Democrat” Jill Greenberg, who took the opportunity to purposefully make McCain look bad, including snapping a shot in which the candidate looms like a horror-movie monster.

Greenberg, whose website – – advertises her heavily retouched photography style, told the editors of Photo District News that she chose to omit even a standard, complimentary retouching of McCain’s photos.

“I left his eyes red and his skin looking bad,” she said.

According to a report in PDNPulse, a professional photography blog by the editors of Photo District News, Greenberg tricked McCain during the photo shoot in early August into thinking he was lit by a modeling light, when in reality, the lighting was rigged from below to make McCain look awful.

The lighting effect caused by a strobe positioned below McCain cast large, dark shadows on the wall behind him, and the camera angle made him look more like actor Boris Karloff in the black-and-white movie Frankenstein than a presidential candidate.

“He had no idea,” said Greenberg in the PDNPulse interview.

The photo selected by the Atlantic

Ultimately, the Atlantic didn’t choose the Frankenstein photo, opting for a different cover shot, but Greenberg proudly displays the monster shot on her website and reportedly is hoping to license it to another magazine.

When PDNPulse asked Greenberg if she had any reservations about accepting the photography assignment – which originally was to create a shot that made McCain look heroic – given her political leanings, she pleaded caveat emptor, buyer beware.

“I didn’t,” she said. “It’s definitely exciting to shoot someone who is in the limelight like that. I am pretty hard-core Democrat. Some of my artwork has been pretty anti-Bush, so maybe it was somewhat irresponsible for (the Atlantic) to hire me.”

Greenberg also told PDNPulse that she’s considered altering the photo to replace McCain’s mouth with bloody shark teeth and posting the image on a billboard, depicting the candidate as a bloodthirsty warmonger.

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