December 16, 2011

The Obama Holiday Portrait: Holding on for Dear Life?

Obama family Leibovitz.jpg

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Since we just did the Romneys, I thought we’d graduate to the White House.

There is probably no family on earth as practiced as the Obamas when it comes to being on camera and looking warm and natural. That’s why I can’t stop looking at this holiday portrait Pete Souza shot earlier in the week. (And for contrast, I’m also putting up the holiday portrait of the Obama’s first Christmas in office taken by none-other than Annie Leibovitz.)

Certainly, there are all kinds of things to talk about here. For me, though, the tell-tale element (on top of, and maybe related to the decision to take a holiday portrait “at the office,” as opposed to a much warmer, more personal-looking space like the Green Room) is the tension in Michelle and Barack’s bodies. Look specifically at Michelle’s right arm and hand, similar to Obama’s hand and grip. At first, I thought they were just love squeezes, but Sasha’s relaxed arms and hands provide a dramatic contrast; Malia, in contrast, seeming like the conduit for both parents. And then, compare all the bodies to two years ago, when the parents, the President loose and leading, didn’t look quite as tight, Michelle wasn’t so leading (in Barack’s old spot?) and Malia, of course, could just flow.

(photo 1: Annie Leibovitz. photo 2; Pete Souza. caption: President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, right, sit for a family portrait in the Oval Office, Dec. 11, 2011.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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