Obama the Undergrad: the Exhibit

The fact that Lisa Jack, who photographed Barack Obama during his freshman year at Occidental College, chose to hold onto the photos during the brutal presidential campaign restores a little of one's faith in humanity. But now that Obama is safe from any faux-outrage over the portraits—in which he oozes a pre-calculated cool complete with cigarette in hand—the photos are on exhibit in Los Angeles. Jack remembers meeting the young Obama in 1980, and being impressed with his confidence. He "was a cool dude," she said. And even then Obama had an instinct for the image he wanted to project. He came to the photo shoot with a stylish bomber jacket, cigarettes, and banded hat. Jack first published some of the photos in Time in December, choosing that magazine over tabloids that likely would have paid handsomely. "I could have made a boatload of money, probably, but I wanted to do it right," Jack said.