“Barack Obama: The Freshman,” an exhibition of black-and-white photographs by Lisa Jack, is on view at M + B Gallery in Los Angeles. Lisa Jack took the photographs of the man who would be president when both were students at Occidental College (“Oxy”) in L.A in 1980.
Ms. Jack was scouting that year for people to pose for her photographic portrait project. One of her classmates suggested she call a guy named Barry.
“A friend of a friend was telling me about this really handsome guy, and he walked into the campus coffee shop,” she recalled. She asked him to pose and he agreed. They made arrangements to meet. “I photographed a lot of people and it was always interesting what they decided to wear to the shoot.” (1)Mr. Obama brought along a leather bomber jacket, a Panama hat, and a pack of cigarettes and wore flared jeans. “Straw hats were not something people wore back then,” she added. “It was obvious that he really put some thought into how he wanted to convey himself.”
Friends remember that Barry Obama had clear-cut ideas about his own style. He grew his hair log, wore subdued square-cut Hawaiian shirts and wore sandals.
Ms. Jack hoped Barry would ask her out, but he did not. Although he was pleased with the photographs, they did not maintain contact. Ms. Jack forgot about the photos until the 2008 presidential campaign.
(1) “When He was Barry,” The New York Times, June 18, 2009.