Scout Tufankjian - Barack and Michelle Obama

The story behind the most retweeted photograph ever

Photograph of Barack Obama embracing his wife after re-election is most popular ever on the net, but who took it?

At 4.16am on Wednesday, around five hours after Barack Obama had won the 2012 US Election his twitter account tweeted a message containing just three words and a single photograph. "Four more years" it read. This unassuming sentence and the accompanying photograph of Obama hugging his wife Michelle would go on to be retweeted over 800,000 times (and the figure's still rising).

But who was the photographer who got the shot, the most popular photograph on the internet? Well her name is Scout Tufankjian and it all started with a 2006 book signing in New Hampshire. 

"In 2006, I got sent to New Hampshire to cover a book signing by the junior senator from Illinois, and decided to spend the next two-and-a-half years covering what became his winning presidential campaign," Tufankjian explains. "So through sheer chance and pigheadedness, I became the only photojournalist to cover the entirety of the 2008 Obama campaign."

Photojournalist Tufankjian was asked to join the campaign trail for her own second term in August 2012 and shortly after on the 15th in Dubuque, IA, the shot was taken. 

"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," says Tufankjian. "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."

Despite the number of times it's been retweeted, Tufankjian is somewhat philosophical about the shot. "I definitely had no idea that it would be as popular as it is, and I don't kid myself that its popularity has anything at all to do with the framing of the image, etc," she says. "It's all about how people feel about the Obama family." Read an interview with her on Gizmodo. And check out the many politically charged photographs in our books Decade and Century