Platon is no stranger to photographing some of the world’s most powerful and controversial people — his headshot of Vladimir Putin for Time magazine’s Person of the Year cover in 2007 won first place in the World Press Photo Contest, and he’s also shot the likes of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Hugo Chavez, among countless others.
But the sitter that has perhaps made the strongest impression on the renowned portrait shooter is his recent session with Edward Snowden for Wired magazine, or as the publication calls him, “The Most Wanted Man in the World.”
“I’ve captured people like Gaddafi, Putin, all the living American presidents,” Platon says in the video, “and this particular project in some way sums up everything I’ve worked on in my life.”
Platon and James Bamford, the best-selling author and investigative journalist known most for his coverage of U.S. intelligence agencies, headed over to Moscow after nine months of deliberating with lawyers and confidantes to interview and take Snowden’s portrait in a makeshift studio overlooking the city’s Red Square. This was the first portrait session Snowden sat for since leaking the NSA documents and gaining asylum in Russia. It wasn’t too difficult for Platon to meet Snowden there, considering the Russians by and large are fairly fond of the photographer — they see his portrait of Putin as a sign of strength.
Perhaps most striking about the images Platon takes of Snowden (whose glasses are broken, one of the nose pads having snapped off) is the differences in approach to his classic head-on portraits — those of Snowden clutching the flag, staring confidently into the lens — and the grainy environmental portraits — where he looks thoughtfully out the window onto the Russian square with the American flag draped onto the couch and rubs the bridge of his nose as he lies on the couch.