President Obama's taking a self portrait during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela — in what many outlets have now termed "selfie-gate" — may not have deserved all the ire it received. Roberto Schmidt, the AFP photographer who took the now-infamous photo, remarks on the AFP blog that, given the relaxed atmosphere at the service, he had nothing to complain about. He might even have done the same in their place.
In Schmidt's view, the photo merely captured a human moment during the service. Two hours in, things had taken on a "carnival" quality — with attendees singing and dancing — instead of the dour mood one might expect at a funeral. Even Michelle Obama's stern expression in the photo is simple happenstance. "In reality," Schmidt writes, "just a few seconds earlier the first lady was herself joking with those around her." In the end, he expresses dismay that so much attention was paid to one picture when the AFP went to great pains to capture the reactions of South Africans mourning Mandela.