These Barack Obama Selfie Photos go VIRAL! Find Out Why the Photographer is Defending Michelle Obama

David Cameron, President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama - December 2013 - BellaNaija

If you haven’t heard about or seen the Obama Selfie photos, then you probably have been laying low under a rock or something…

At Nelson Mandela‘s memorial service held on Tuesday 10th December 2013, the world couldn’t stop buzzing about President Barack Obama taking a selfie with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt.

Also buzzing were reports that Michelle Obama wasn’t too happy with Barack taking the selfie with Helle and David because in almost all photos which surfaced online she appears to be cold, distant and aloof.

Some news organizations are reporting that Michelle was jealous of Helle.

See the Photos!
David Cameron, President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama - December 2013 - BellaNaija 01David Cameron, President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama - December 2013 - BellaNaijaDavid Cameron, President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama - December 2013 - BellaNaija 02David-Cameron-President-Barack-Obama-Michelle-Obama - December-2013-BellaNaija-03David-Cameron-President-Barack-Obama-Michelle-Obama - December-2013-BellaNaija-04David-Cameron-President-Barack-Obama-Michelle-Obama - December-2013-BellaNaija-05David-Cameron-President-Barack-Obama-Michelle-Obama - December-2013-BellaNaija-06

The photographer who took the viral photos posted an article online defending Michelle O;

So here’s the photo, my photo, which quickly lit up the world’s social networks and news websites. The “selfie” of three world leaders who, during South Africa’s farewell to Nelson Mandela, were messing about like kids instead of behaving with the mournful gravitas one might expect.

In general on this blog, photojournalists tell the story behind a picture they’ve taken. I’ve done this for images from Pakistan, and India, where I am based. And here I am again, but this time the picture comes from a stadium in Soweto, and shows people taking a photo of themselves. I guess it’s a sign of our times that somehow this image seemed to get more attention than the event itself. Go figure.

[…] So Obama took his place amid these leaders who’d gathered from all corners of the globe. Among them was British Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as a woman who I wasn’t able to immediately identify. I later learned it was the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt. I’m a German-Colombian based in India, so I don’t feel too bad I didn’t recognize her! At the time, I thought it must have been one of Obama’s many staffers.Anyway, suddenly this woman pulled out her mobile phone and took a photo of herself smiling with Cameron and the US president. I captured the scene reflexively. All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honour their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid. The ceremony had already gone on for two hours and would last another two. The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn’t see anything shocking in my viewfinder, president of the US or not. We are in Africa.

I later read on social media that Michelle Obama seemed to be rather peeved on seeing the Danish prime minister take the picture. But photos can lie. In reality, just a few seconds earlier the first lady was herself joking with those around her, Cameron and Schmidt included. Her stern look was captured by chance.

I took these photos totally spontaneously, without thinking about what impact they might have. At the time, I thought the world leaders were simply acting like human beings, like me and you. I doubt anyone could have remained totally stony faced for the duration of the ceremony, while tens of thousands of people were celebrating in the stadium. For me, the behaviour of these leaders in snapping a selfie seems perfectly natural. I see nothing to complain about, and probably would have done the same in their place. The AFP team worked hard to display the reaction that South African people had for the passing of someone they consider as a father. We moved about 500 pictures, trying to portray their true feelings, and this seemingly trivial image seems to have eclipsed much of this collective work.

It was interesting to see politicians in a human light because usually when we see them it is in such a controlled environment. Maybe this would not be such an issue if we, as the press, would have more access to dignitaries and be able to show they are human as the rest of us.

I confess too that it makes me a little sad we are so obsessed with day-to-day trivialities, instead of things of true importance. –Richard Schmidt | AFP

But the photos people haven’t seen are these
David-Cameron-President-Barack-Obama-Michelle-Obama - December-2013-BellaNaija-07David-Cameron-President-Barack-Obama-Michelle-Obama - December-2013-BellaNaija-08

41 Comments on These Barack Obama Selfie Photos go VIRAL! Find Out Why the Photographer is Defending Michelle Obama
  • Mademoiselle December 11, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Much ado about nothing!! The media has just been going OFF on these pics. They are just pictures guys! This only goes to prove that after all’s been said and done, they are just humans like us. I found the whole selfie thing cool/funny not disrespectful.
    Also, Mandela is meant to be celebrated, not mourned. He was such a great man, he deserves all the joy that anyone could have brought to his wake. My two cents..

  • Leah December 11, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    I agree @ Mademoiselle, Much ado about nothing.

  • Chic December 11, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Much ado about absolutely nothing! I personally did not see anything wrong with those photos or taking them at a funeral service didn’t people see how long it was plus there were plenty of musical performance interludes and stuff so these guys too were taking a break from the speeches. People love to make a mountain out of a molehill

  • Miss_Flygerian December 11, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    LOOOOOL!!! These politicians are normal people, allow them enjoy their selfies jare. People talking shit like they don’t take selfies in worse places. Mschew!!!

  • Nneks December 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Lol while I agree that this situation has been dragged on, I cant help but feel that if this was Goodluck Jonathan, fellow Nigerians would have finished him with insults…

  • Thelma December 11, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    God bless the man who wrote this and took these pictures. In fact I’m sure those other people who went on and on about Michelle being cold and distant have these same pictures, but of course, negativity sells so they show only the ones where she was looking majorly pissed.
    As for Obama etc being jovial, they need to lick some sugar pls. The man was 95! Was he supposed to be immortal? His life is something to be celebrated. These people talking crap can’t honestly say they were sober and stone faced all through the Occasion. I’m happy to see them laugh, these are people who deserve a break from their tense and difficult lives.

  • Thelma December 11, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Some people just like to cry more than the bereaved. I’m happy to see these people relaxed and on a break from their difficult and tense lives.
    God bless the writer of this article, especially for his pictures. Those nay-Sayers must have seen these one, but no, they only put out the ones where Michelle was looking majorly pissed because negativity sells.

  • Wuggy December 11, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    They are world leaders and should comport themselves as such. No body is saying they aren’t human,but taking selfies at a funeral? Mandela’s at that?? C’mon! Dem for kukuma add duck lips join.

    • aj December 12, 2013 at 5:59 am

      its not a funeral but a memorial service.

    • lorenz December 12, 2013 at 10:39 am

      This man died at 95, ah ah!!! What are you saying? There’s absolutely nothing wrong witn taking a photo. Oh, they’re supposed to be crying abi?

  • ‘Midé December 11, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    These folks work hard and play hard. Nice one.

  • Cancel Reply December 11, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    Love the pics!Just shows they dont take themselves too seriously!Plus Nelson Mandela was a 95 year old man and not the funeral of a young teenager that’s been brutally murdered!

  • Charis December 11, 2013 at 11:28 pm


  • Omalicha December 11, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    The selfie section was cute but a bit inappropriate for this occasion….my boyfriend disagrees and thinks Mandela lived a long fulfilled life, so his memorial shouldn’t be sad, but celebratory.

    PS: Interesting how people have been passing around those pics of FLOTUS mean mugging the blonde but purposely left out the last pic where she smiled at her. Its obvious the pics weren’t what they seemed. I swear the press can manipulate to high heavens.

  • Mz Socially Awkward… December 11, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Abeg, leaving all this speculation about Obama, selfies & Michelle aside for a minute, can I just say that the Danish PM is quite a hot babe?? Chick must have been killing it in her younger days, damn. Makes you want to just hate those Scandinavian women sha, it’s like God just kept a special day aside to craft them… 🙂

    And, speaking of world leaders converging in one spot, where’s oga Jona?

    • Dunni Obata December 12, 2013 at 12:34 am

      You beat me to it, i swear. I wanted to say what is the brouhaha about? Has anyone noticed how HOT madame Danish Prime Minister. 2 of the most powerful men on earth were not just shining teeth for nothing. I don’t blame FLOTUS for her expression. I probably would be a teeny bit miffed myself if my husband was shining teeth and behaving like a teenager (just joking). As for your question about Oga Jona, your answer is in the word itself – Jona. Gerrit?

  • Anon December 12, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Can a Nigerian leader do this? He won’t even know what a selfie is and his aide will probably be holding his satellite phone. Stiffness.

  • Endo December 12, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Pictures can lie after all or in this case, misrepresent facts …. Nice of the photographer to clear the air

    Pls share your endometriosis stories @ Let’s beat endo together !

  • Product of public Education December 12, 2013 at 1:44 am

    Oga jona kukuma dey only presido with military man as ADC for democracy govt. that shows we are still been govern by them soldiers behind close doors.

    As dem kukuma talk from book of anonymous……if you are in doubt take a selfie shikena!

  • wiklo December 12, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Hope some can now stop their derision of Denrele n some other naija lady for the pix (smilie face) they took at Mandela’s home few days ago…

  • SOLO ACT December 12, 2013 at 7:38 am

    dont trust a white woman around a powerful black man ooo!

  • Jane December 12, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Well I feel derz some truth in d picz…notice obama is kissn er hand after they switched seats…and she doesn’t look so amused…also notice when seats were switched she sat kinda backing the d prime minister…peeps taking selfies and she has dt kinda expression on? Trust me sm drama was goin on thr…again see d lady holdn cameron’s face…she lucky his wife wasn’t close…lol… opinion Mrs obama nor trust d lady….y else did dey switch seats and suddenly obama focused on d ocassion….abeg e…even d americans get jealous. The photogtrapher is just tryna save his ass….so he wnt b sniped 2 death in his sleep

  • ada December 12, 2013 at 8:50 am


  • Bella December 12, 2013 at 8:54 am

    I totally agree – these people are humans and the media always manages to play dirty tricks!! Let them be, and as shown above – let this be a lesson to never believe everything you hear or see. Much ado about nothing, I am actually glad they did!

  • Koko December 12, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I totally agree.. D white lady is quite flirtatious and Michelle aint having “non-o-dat”.. Lol.. See her holding d other man’s face sef.. Hiss!

  • Koko December 12, 2013 at 9:25 am

    I totally agree.. D white lady is quite flirtatious and Michelle aint having “non-o-dat”.. Lol.. See her holding d other man’s face sef.. Hiss!!

  • MOM December 12, 2013 at 9:34 am

    they poooh, urinate, clean their buttocks, lick their fingers, fart heavily and smelly too, they percieve their fart and goes like awww that is smelly, they pick smelly acne on their faces and sweat too. huhhhh plssssss they are human beings not stones. they express their feelings toooo really much ado about nothing.

  • Modella December 12, 2013 at 9:48 am

    What has ur boyfriend suggestion got to do with this…

  • Raindrops December 12, 2013 at 9:59 am

    To be honest even before all the speculations and allegations started, as soon as I saw the pics I knew it was going to be blown out of proportion. God know’s I have taken pics that could easily have been misconstrued. @ Ms SA, you are soo right, she is hot. She reminds me of Cameron Diaz but Michelle aint got anything to worry about. To digress as well, the scandal surrounding the sign language dude is just hilarious, only in Africa.

  • jinkelele December 12, 2013 at 10:49 am

    make una leave danish prime minister jor…who knows when she got into politics. She had a rare chance of taking pictures with ‘her mentors’ nne d chic quickly took cellphone!! at least she didnt pout

  • jinkelele December 12, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Besides …….its AFRICA. when an old person dies its a PARTY. Who dey carry sober face for burial ceremony here?

  • Amiphat December 12, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Personally, I believe the frown on her face was more of censure (ie. guys, “you really shouldn’t be taking selfies at such a solemn occasion”).

    Be that as it may, we know who’s bed the great Barack will be sleeping in at night – blonde Dane in the picture or otherwise.

  • Abeg abeg! December 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Please keep quiet jor, you are just one boring huge pretender! kilode? it is the funeral of an old man with great grand children even in Nigeria we celebrate when old people die, pick asoebi, dance, laugh and rejoice for a fulfilled life. He lived fully and expressively and he would have expected people to celebrate him at his funeral if we could ask him so why are you complaining if in the celebratory mood, people took selfies? I know they are world leaders, but they are human beings as well. So please… I don’t know why a lot of people think that disparaging others will suddenly make them have clout or sound intelligent.

  • I.JO December 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    The Danish prime minister is definitely one hottie!! Enuf said

  • Spicy December 12, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Scandal Season 99. Lol

  • NNENNE December 14, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Michelle Obama is my lady and nothing will change that.
    Mandela’s funeral was a celebration of life, due to his age and
    accomplishments. All the “bad bele: people should take a chill

  • NNENNE December 14, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Michelle Obama is my lady and nothing will change that.
    Mandela’s funeral was a celebration of life, due to his age and
    accomplishments. All the “bad bele: people should take a chill

  • laface January 15, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Michelle understands the igbo saying: ‘o dia fia aru; o’fiaba aru.. Pidgin translation: E no dey hard; E start to hard.#Markingterritorytins#

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