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Portraits of Power offers unique, eye-level look at world leaders

Published on: October 31, 2012

By Mitch Traphagen

The Portraits of Power exhibit runs through Nov. 11 at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa. Mitch Traphagen Photo

TAMPA — In today’s media saturated environment, world leaders have taken on almost mythical proportions. They are global, purposefully unassailable and seemingly unapproachable. Given all of that, it is easy to forget that they are men and women just like everyone else. The only difference is their ability to wield power.

Platon, a 44-year-old photographer of British and Greek parents and staff photographer for The New Yorker, has made a name for himself in making photographic portraits of the world’s leaders. Last year, when nearly all of the world’s leaders convened in New York for a meeting at the United Nations, Platon was there, set up in a tiny studio off the floor of the General Assembly. Although his magazine had been working on the project for months by contacting leaders around the world, the outcome was “a five-day improvisation” of luring the leaders of world into the makeshift studio to sit for a portrait.

The stunning result, an exhibition entitled Platon: Portraits of Power, is at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa through Nov. 11. The portraits include Presidents Obama and Bush, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, Muammar Qaddafi, Benjamin Netanyahu and many others. And within the larger-than-life images are faces of majesty and, perhaps, madness; humility and mystery; confidence and compassion.

The portraits bring humanity to names and faces often seen only in news reporting. All together, they reveal a world struggling, sometimes at odds, sometimes in concert, to move forward. Or, in some cases, to cling to old ways as the rest of the world moves on.

The exhibit is a rare opportunity to see the world’s most powerful people at eye-level, in portraits that uniquely reflect the men and women in that exclusive group. With the exhibit ending Nov. 11, the window of opportunity to see it is also brief.

The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts is located at 400 North Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa. Admission to the exhibit is free for museum members, with a suggested $10 donation for non-members and $8 for students and members of the military. The museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The reception desk is located on the second floor. Visit for more information.