Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A photo op, short for photo opportunity, is a carefully planned human event that results in a memorable and effective photograph.
The word is usually thought of in a political sense, relating to politicians who do things such as plant trees, pick up litter, and visit senior citizens, often during election cycles, with the intent of photographers catching the events on film, generating good publicity.
One attribute of a photo op, which differentiates the photo op from a news conference, is that no questions are permitted to be asked of the subject. Thus, photo ops are often criticized as being a method by which the politician or other photo-op subject avoids having to answer potentially embarrassing questions from the news media, or to respond to potentially embarrassing situations.
In recent years, political photo ops have become quite elaborate. In 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush landed in a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier as part of a photo op leading up to his announcement of the end of major combat in the War on Iraq. Bush also covertly traveled to Iraq to greet U.S. troops on Thanksgiving in 2003. Although the trip may have been risky or even courageous, it is also accurately described as a photo op because reporters were not permitted access to the President or any of his senior advisers.
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