The photo of President Barack Obama hugging the first lady tweeted by his account on election night at 11:16 p.m. when it was projected that he had been re-elected quickly went viral. It has become most tweeted photo — and most retweeted post — ever, with more than 800,000 retweets since then.
What many have not taken the time to think about though is the backstory of the photo. One might initially think the sweet, celebratory moment was taken on election night, a look at the clothing and location though would quickly tell you otherwise. The photographer revealed to Gizmodo that it was actually taken a few months before Election Day.
Photographer Scout Tufankjian has been shooting the Obamas since the then-senator’s 2008 campaign for presiden. He then began shooting exclusively for Obama’s campaign again in August 2012.
Here’s what Tufankjian told Gizmodo’s Brent Rose about the tender moment he captured of the Obamas:
This picture was taken in Dubuque, IA on August 15th. Iowa is always a pretty special place for the Obamas, since Iowans were really the first people outside of Chicago to embrace the Obama candidacy, and we had been on a bus tour for three days. This was the first event the First Lady had been at and they hadn’t seen each other for a few days. Because I’m a total sap and am also relatively recently married, I find their relationship to be totally inspirational in terms of the respect they have for each other, so I always try to focus on them as a couple, rather than as public figures.
Tufankjian said he didn’t know the photo would be used in a historic tweet months later. Gizmodo reported that a friend of Tufankjian emailed him after the picture broke a Twitter record — this is how he found out.
According to a separate post by Gizmodo, at little more than an hour after its initial tweet, the photo was retweeted 350,00 times and favorited 120,000 times. The previous record for most popular tweet was held by Justin Bieber.
For more about Tufankjian’s technique and tips for capturing memorable moments, read Gizmodo’s story full Q&A here.