In 1959, shortly after they were selected as astronauts, the Mercury 7 posed for this series of “civilian” single portraits. You can tell how early these photos were taken, since everyone looks so young.
I’m of two minds about these photos. They’re relatively rare and thus pretty valuable. But you can tell how the photographer set this up. “Okay, everyone, be sure to look to the left, and also use your right hand to clutch your left arm as if it’s the last lifejacket on the Titanic. Oh, and don’t forget to choose a great senior quote!”
(Don’t you love the fact that Gordo Cooper is looking straight at the camera, like a normal person? Gordo, you rebel.)
Some of these photos really flatter the astronauts. And some of them…don’t. All of you who check my tumblr regularly know that I admire Gus like it’s my job. And yet, I’ve never liked this photo of him. He’s in a very unnatural-looking pose, and the whole thing looks awkward.
Which is why I’m not sure why they used that photo for the “Party 7” drawing that professor-perfect31 mentioned earlier. Granted, it was 1961 and the artist was an ocean away, so he may not have had the world’s biggest photo archive for inspiration. But still. Try to make Gus look semi-human.
In sum, it’s a mystery. And on a different note, try not to let Furious Deke Slayton haunt your nightmares.