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Early college photos of Obama displayed

May 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Some long-overlooked photographs of Barack Obama will be on exhibit beginning Thursday.The exhibit features pictures of Barack Obama when he was a freshman at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Countless images of Barack Obama have been available to the public. However, there is a new collection going on display, and going up for sale, at M+B Gallery in West Hollywood.

In 1980, Lisa Jack was an aspiring photographer. That was when she asked a fellow student at Occidental College to be one of her subjects.

"A friend of a friend suggested that I get in touch with this guy named Barry, who was very hot," said Jack. "She said, 'You have to take his picture because he's hot.' And he happened to walk in at that exact moment, and he came in and sat down, and I was introduced and I said, 'Hey, you want your picture taken?'"

After Lisa introduced herself, Obama agreed. But after those pictures were taken, graduating from Occidental took Jack and Obama on different paths. Jack became a psychologist in Minnesota, but she never forgot the photos of her subject who would become president.

No one saw Obama's freshman photographs for nearly 30 years. When Jack finally decided to release them, her timing was carefully planned.

"I had kept these under wraps until after the election very, very carefully," said Jack. "I just wanted to do this properly and right, and I didn't want to have an impact on the election."

Some of the photos were used in Time magazine, when Obama was named person of the year. But Jack held on to the images before then. After all, who could get rid of pictures of a freshman with such a cool camera presence?

"You go from fun, whimsical, thoughtful, intense -- there's just so many sides of him that you see in this one roll of film, that it's kind of amazing," said Jack.

Jack is dabbling in photography again, which means she has had to make the digital switch. She snapped a few photos of her old apartment, where the Obama portraits were made.

But in true artist's style, it isn't about fame or fortune. Lisa Jack would like nothing more than to know that the president likes them.

"I hope he's proud of how I did this. I think he probably recognizes they needed to come out too because there's nothing else like them of this time," said Jack.

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