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Justin Trudeau art-directed the photo on Obama’s very unusual last presidential holiday card

U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
Partners in diplomacy and photo shoots.
  • Johnny Simon
By Johnny Simon

Deputy Photo Editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

The White House holiday card is a traditionally neutral greeting, that usually showcases the White House in winter. Think the South Lawn covered in snow, or a roaring fireplace in the East Wing residency. But this year, as a final goodbye from the Obama family, the annual holiday card took a different turn, with an intimate photo of the first family that doesn’t invoke any holiday at all.

The backstory of that photo is just one more milestone in the historic bromance between Barack Obama and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. As White house photographer Pete Souza explains in an Instagram caption of the image:

Earlier this year we hosted the Canadian Prime Minister for a formal State Dinner. Malia and Sasha attended as guests. Before the dinner, I did a family photo in the White House residence. But later, when the Trudeaus arrived, the two families spent some time on the Truman Balcony with their respective delegations. At one point, the Prime Minister asked if we could do a photo of he and his wife with the Obama family. Click, click, click. Then, he said I should do a photo of just the Obama’s. I could have said, “sir we already did one before you arrived.” But instead, I clicked off a few quick frames. And lo and behold, it was this picture that Justin Trudeau asked me to take which everyone loved as the choice for the 2016 White House holiday card.

There you have it: Justin Trudeau, politician, known panda cuddler, budding art director.

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