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White House Sends Warning Letter to Photographer who Photographed Obama's Daughters

A celebrity photographer who snapped photos of President Barack Obama’s daughters frolicking on a public beach in Hawaii received a warning from the White House that their privacy should be respected.

As official and intimidating it may be to receive such a letter from the White House, it carries no legal standing. It is merely part of an informal agreement Obama has with the media, which once used to pride itself in being the Fourth Estate.

The photographer was on the beach last week waiting to snap a photo of Jessica Simpson when he spotted Malia and Sasha Obama, age 14 and 11, so he naturally snapped their photos, thinking he could make a sale.

But he was quickly accosted by Secret Service agents, who demanded his identification. They did not delete his photos but told him not to take anymore photos.

The photographer then turned around and sold the existing images, which he had every right to do if he did not personally agree to the agreement with the White House.

According to the Daily Mail:

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They allowed the man to keep his camera but gave him a stern warning to stop photographing the first daughters.

However when the paparazzo later sold the images to picture agencies, he was slapped with a warning letter from the White House telling him to stop their release.

A source told Celebuzz that the White House sent the photographer an official letter stating that ‘Sasha and Malia’s privacy should be maintained as they were on a private holiday… and that other media had been respecting these requirements’.

The Obamas have a strict policy when it comes to their daughters’ exposure in the media. The general rule is that Malia, 14, and 11-year-old Sasha are not to be photographed in their private lives, only in an official capacity.

The unofficial agreement between the White House and media outlets has generally been followed – however there have been breaches.

While it is understandable that Obama would like to keep his daughters out of the public eye, it makes one wonder what other “unofficial agreements” he has made with the media not to report certain information.

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.