Behind the Lens:
by Pete Souza, Chief Official White House Photographer
President Obama may be the Commander-in-chief. But clearly his wife–First Lady Michelle Obama is the hugger-in-chief.
My staff and I have been photographing her since Inauguration Day, and as the following photographs clearly show, she’s been hugging people nonstop since Day 1. Whether it’s a school child, a family member in peril, a surprised tourist, or even a famous person, the First Lady greets them with a hug.
“I’ve always been a big hugger–that’s just how I am–and it’s always my first instinct when I meet someone,” the First Lady told me.
“Hugging is how I connect to people–how I show warmth and make folks feel at home.”
Although I mostly photograph the President, I’m occasionally near the First Lady when she’s greeting people with a hug. I love to watch the reaction of people on the receiving end of her hugs. There are usually lots of smiles and sometimes tears of joy.
“I think it puts folks at ease and shows them that while I might happen to have a fancy title, I’m just Michelle,” she said.
“I’m myself–and I want to know who they are, I want them to feel comfortable telling me their story.”
So, I hope you enjoy this set of photographs from my staff and I during the past six plus years. I’m sure there will be many more hug photos to come.
See other posts in the series:
Ahead of his visit to South Dakota, take a look at every state President Obama has visited.
Pete Souza describes how he captured a photo of a rainbow as the President’s arrived in Kingston, Jamaica. See the photos.
Pete Souza takes you inside the President’s visit to Selma for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. See the photos.