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Barack Obama and the Art of the Flattering Vacation Photo

…On a yacht

04.18.17
CORRECTION - Former US President Obama take a holiday snap of his wife Michelle, as she poses on the top deck of the 138 meter Rising Sun yacht where the couple and friends spent the morning off the Island of Moorea, in the South Pacific, part of French Polynesia on April 14, 2017. Obama and his wife Michelle, US singer Bruce Springsteen, US actor Tom Hanks and TV personality Oprah Winfrey, spent two hours aboard the Rising Sun before leaving Tahiti. The Obamas left Tahiti after a one-month stay in French Polynesia. / AFP PHOTO / Mike LEYRAL / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by Mike LEYRAL has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [April 14, 2014] instead of [April 24 2017]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read MIKE LEYRAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Not to be sexist, ageist, generalist, hyperbolic and sort of rude, but men cannot take iPhone photos. Not very well, at least. Especially not when you love your outfit.

But Barack Obama is different.

Obviously.

CORRECTION - Former US President Obama take a holiday snap of his wife Michelle, as she poses on the top deck of the 138 meter Rising Sun yacht where the couple and friends spent the morning off the Island of Moorea, in the South Pacific, part of French Polynesia on April 14, 2017. Obama and his wife Michelle, US singer Bruce Springsteen, US actor Tom Hanks and TV personality Oprah Winfrey, spent two hours aboard the Rising Sun before leaving Tahiti. The Obamas left Tahiti after a one-month stay in French Polynesia. / AFP PHOTO / Mike LEYRAL / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by Mike LEYRAL has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [April 14, 2014] instead of [April 24 2017]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read MIKE LEYRAL/AFP/Getty Images)

This photo of Barack Obama taking Michelle’s picture to capture her vacation-OOTD is circulating the internet. The town is freaking out because it’s adorable, everyone misses them and also because it means Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Springsteen are nearby. My takeaway is that Barack’s an excellent photographer who has honed his skills thanks to a female-centric household.

Here’s what all men, especially significant others, dads and random street strangers who get stopped by groups of teen girls in front of social media opportunities, can learn from the photo above.

1. BACK THE FUCK UP!!!!

Men are human zoom lenses. Hand your phone to a dude and he will stand with the camera about an inch away from your nose. He will also lose his hearing as you and your friends shout “BACK UP!!!!!” Not Barack. Not only does he stand an appropriate three yards or so away from his subject, he tilts back slightly. This allows Michelle to relax, pose and get comfortable. It also lessens the chance of capturing unflattering angles and literally every pore on your subject’s face.

2. Position your subject under a bit of shade (nature’s contour stick) and avoid back-lit scenery.

The stage is yours if it’s golden hour, however. Golden hour is the equivalent of the Snapchat “pretty filter” on steroids.

3. The camera lens should ALWAYS be taller than your subject.

Unless you are a trained professional photographer shooting a trained professional model, you should NEVER, EVER be lower than your subject, especially with an iPhone. No one wants an up-nostril, double-chin shot.

Above, Barack Obama demonstrates the perfect height. You can draw a straight, slightly downward-sloping line from the top of the phone to Michelle Obama’s eyes. This allows her to drop her chin and look up a bit, just like Haley in the photo everyone liked and also just like Seventeen taught me in their “how to take a good graduation photo” article that I read 12 years ago and still refer to.

Remember to take both horizontal and vertical shots.

4. Steady your hands.

No one wants a blurry picture. The easiest way to remedy this is to use two hands. With his hands at an appropriate ten and two, Barack Obama greatly reduces any chance of shaking.

5. Have your subject try a variety of poses and continue to snap their photo while transitioning from one post to another.

A good posed photo is an important skill to master, but the shot everyone wants is the casual candid. Have your subject shift her weight, look left and right, fidget with her jewelry or clothes and do different things with her arms and legs. Tell your subject to fake laugh so that she does it, feels awkward and then really laughs. All the while, hold your finger on the shutter and take no less than one million photos. There is sure to be a candid gem somewhere in there; this is the one that always gets selected.

You may never have a love like Barack and Michelle Obama’s, but with these tips, you are at least 50% less likely to get yelled at or have your efforts deleted the moment you walk away, only to be replaced by at 12 year old the next time someone hands you their iPhone for a photo.

Photo via Getty Images. 

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  • Adrianna

    It took forever to get my boyfriend to take multiple photos. He’d feel proud of himself for setting up a good composition that didn’t need to get cropped, but then I look bad because I waited 15 seconds for him to take one photo.

    Also, he insists on zooming in as much as he can with my expensive dslr camera lens just because he can. It’s not a good portrait if half my forehead is cut off

    • Jenn K.

      I hate zooming. Just get closer if you need to but QUIT ZOOMING. 🙂

  • Chelsea Adilia Rojas

    This piece is right on time for me and my best friend who are taking a couple’s trip to Costa Rica next week! Will forward to our counterparts…

  • Mary

    Loling rn Barack + your sage advice is on point

  • tmm16

    I love and miss Barack and Michelle so much. Forever goals. This is just another skill to add to Barack’s never-ending list of “things I’m amazing at.”

  • Haley Nahman

    I wonder if Barack is interested in shooting freelance for us

  • Haley Nahman

    Also is he not shooting her on an ipad

    • Mary

      Yes iPad, total dad move but it also shows he’s taking time 2 disconnect from his phone/outside world/god bless him. I keep coming back to this post and the comments bc I can’t get over him living his best life

      • Amelia Diamond

        it’s 100% an ipad

    • Ashley

      Dad of America. 100%

  • me

    Maybe it’s just me, but I could live very easily without another Kardashian/Beyonce/Lena/[insert celeb du jour] post ever again.

    But give me any story (no matter how small) re the Obamas & my day will be made. I miss them SO damn much !

    DC is such a suck-fest without them in the WH ….

  • MMR

    hahah made my day… so accurate on men taking pics

  • Rheanonn Perez

    srsly this pic is home screen worthy.

    frheak.net

  • pamb

    lol. I automatically defer to my kids when it’s time to take a picture. Apparently, mine are always fuzzy.