When Barack Obama won re-election, his campaign tweeted out a photo of him and Michelle hugging, along with the phrase “Four more years.” The image quickly went viral, breaking records on Twitter and Facebook, and last week Behold spoke to campaign photographer Scout Tufankjian about how she got that shot.
Tufankjian wasn’t the only one shooting at that August rally in Iowa. Photographer David Burnett was there too, shooting for People, and when the now-famous hug took place, he was standing on the far edge of the stage, opposite where Tufankjian was located. He snapped a photo that shows us the other side of the first couple’s embrace. (Luckily, Michelle looks just as happy as her husband to be seeing her spouse for the first time in a few days.)
Burnett said by email that he was surprised when he first saw Tufankjian’s victory photo, because “it didn’t seem, on first blush, to have been shot in November. Then I read the fine print, and saw it was indeed shot in Iowa in August. The light went on in my head, and I looked through my files, finding what I think is the exact moment, from the other side of the podium.”
Burnett notes the serendipity of his shot: “Most often there are situations where photographers are standing almost next to each other, and one gets the picture, and the others don’t. And even in places where there is a limit to how much running around you can do to find the best angle, there will be places, moments where ‘the picture’ happens and no one at the time is aware of it. … You need that combination of vision, reaction, and intuition to anticipate what might happen and how it will look. Therein lies both the joy and the sorrow.”
“One other note on this picture,” Burnett adds. “There were something like 10,000 people present at the rally, but it seems there is always the possibility of a picture which, while taken in the middle of a small town, looks as quiet and removed as if it were alone in the desert. That’s the magic of photography, finding those telling moments amid the tumult.”
See both sides of the embrace side-by-side: