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:

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.

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  • marcorandazza

    The photographer had every LEGAL right to take the photo and to sell the photo. But, there’s something called “ethics,” and this photographer had none. I also find it unethical that the Secret Service agents got involved, since they clearly violated his First Amendment rights.

    I’d be impressed if the Secret Service agents simply reminded the photographer that he has every right, under the Constitution, to take the photos — but that there’s such a thing as ethics, and if he wants to behave without ethics, they have a right to take pictures of him too, and they also have a right to sit back and do nothing if a good samaritan wants to walk by and kick the shit out of him.

    • Kylejack

      Why do you think a private citizen would expect Secret Service protection? Of course he doesn’t expect that.

      • marcorandazza

        Well, an ethical agent might intervene. (if he could do so without neglecting his charges)

      • James

        An agent would be required to report something like that to the local police and to assist if he were able.

    • Rob

      Why do you say the photographer had no ethics? Just because he’s a paparazzo? I don’t agree with a lot of paparazzi tactics, but I don’t see how snapping a photo of the Obama kids when they’re in public is unethical in any way. If the Obamas don’t want them photographed outside of an official capacity, they should keep them out of public areas.

      • marcorandazza

        I don’t see a problem with paparazzi chasing celebrities — they asked for the limelight, they should have no right to complain when the light gets too bright.

        On the other hand, these are someone’s children. The photo is not newsworthy. Their acts are not newsworthy. Naturally, if they were shoplifting, or getting drunk, it might be a matter of public interest — but ethics are what stops you from doing something shitty when there are no rules and regulations telling you that you have to. Fuck this guy. I’d defend his RIGHT to do it, but no way I’d do it pro bono, nor even for a reduced rate.

        • Rob

          I don’t see a problem with paparazzi photographing the President’s family — he asked for the limelight when he ran for President, blah blah blah…

          Who gives a fuck if they’re children, and who are you to decide what is newsworthy or not? Are you his editor? I’d have sold the photo too, simply because the SS warned me not to.

        • James

          Wont somebody please think of the children!

        • Ryan French

          Are you suggesting that SS/LE should base their actions on matters of opinion? Law enforcement does not have the authority to judge what is good taste, ethical or newsworthy.

      • HGH

        Okay, so, think through your point a little more. “If the Obama’s don’t want them photographed outside of an official capacity, they should keep them out of public areas.”

        So basically you’re saying that these kids should never be allowed out in public? Tell me, how well adjusted do you think those kids would be? No going to school, no hanging out with friends, etc… yeah, seems like a healthy childhood.

        And, by the way, even if their father “should have known better” than to run for president, the children didn’t make this choice.

        • Rob

          You obviously missed my sarcasm. There is NO EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY IN PUBLIC. I don’t give a fuck if these are the President’s kids or not, if they’re in public, the President should expect them to be photographed. I’m sure he had the teleprompters set up just so he could have that conversation with them.

          Of course the children didn’t make the choice for him to be president, idiot, and I never implied that they did. Obama and his family aren’t any different from anyone else. They might not like their kids being photographed, but tough shit, that’s life, and that is also the life HE chose for them.

    • farter

      You dont deserve to hold a camera

    • James

      You seem to be confusing ethics with morals and you seem to be under the impression that photographing children equates to assault, I am under the impression that you are an idiot.

    • barcroft

      How dare you, sir? The word ‘ethics’ has never been associated with the Obama administration.

      • Phred

        Or with W’s. or Nixon’s.

      • http://neville6000.deviantart.com/ Neville Ross

        That’s why most of you should have voted for Ralph Nader.

    • https://www.youtube.com/user/kilroy238 Kilroy238

      Exactly what did the photographer do that was unethical?

  • Tammy

    Hasn’t the supreme court ruled that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy when you’re in public? And how is it unethical to photograph his kids? The left couldn’t post enough pictures of the Bush girls when GWB was president. Went out of their way just to find embarrassing ones too.

    • HGH

      1. No one is alleging a crime here so the supreme court’s ruling is irrelevant. This is a rudeness issue, essentially. They didn’t even make him delete his photos.

      2. It’s unethical to photograph his children because (a) his children didn’t agree to being public figures and (b) it’s psychologically damaging for children for there to be a media spectacle every time they leave their house.

      3. For as long I can remember, there has been an understanding with the media that the president’s children should not be photographed except for in official capacities. This was the case with Bush’s children as well. So I call BS on your point about the “left.”

      4. Even if it weren’t the case, there is a big difference between taking pictures of an 18 – 26 year old women (which is how old the Bush girls were during his presidency) and an 11 year old girl. Why is there such a difference? See point #2.

      • Phred

        No. 2 doesn’t apply. Anyone in public may be photographed, public figures or not.

      • Happy_Tinfoil_Cat

        Put them in burkas and keep them locked in a closet until 18 years old then. If I see the presidential family I am shooting first and deciding what to publish later.

        • GottaLoveDS

          You’re going to get a letter now.

      • Skeeter Fudd

        Point 2: ‘his children didn’t agree…’ Exactly, they are CHILDREN. Law and courtesy leave it to the CHILD’s parents to decide whether or not to become public figures. Mr Soetoro CHOSE to become a public figure, a free citizen clicked pictures of Barry’s children on a public beach because, under American Constitutional law, citizens have the right to take pictures of people in public. And print them and publish them. Why would Barry Soetoro choose to subject his children to such ‘psychologically damaging’ media exposure? You raise an interesting point.

  • Rob

    “While it is understandable that Obama would like to keep his daughters out of the public eye,…” He should have thought about that before running for POTUS. Fuck him.

    • HGH

      Yeah, and then-7 year old Sasha really should have declined to be the First Daughter. It’s so totally her fault! Stupid kids.

      And, PS: there was the same media expectation with Bush’s kids.

      • notliberal

        More stupid statements. Do you have a memory? The Bush kids weren’t photographed or reported on? How about the Palin kids. LOL

        Parents are responsible for their kids. If the Obama’s didn’t want the limelight on their kids, they shouldn’t have pursued employment that causes this exposure.

        • Difdi

          This. Parents are supposed to keep their kids welfare foremost in their minds. It’s part of being a good parent. If Daddy’s job actively harms his children, then he’s not being a good parent.

          Don’t like it? Then don’t have kids.

  • Kylejack

    A lot of these types of agreements are tied to access. That is, if you piss of the White House you won’t be allowed to have credentials to cover White House press conferences, traveling and reporting from Air Force One, and etc. This is a big part of why no Washington media was reporting on the open secret that JFK was doing a whole lot of adultery, and why FDR was rarely photographed in his wheelchair.

    But if this guy was just some random freelance photographer, they don’t really have any leverage on him.

    • Kylejack

      piss off*

      • Rob

        You know you can edit your posts on Disqus, right? You don’t need to make another post to correct spelling errors/typos.

        • http://twitter.com/kylejack Name

          Not if you weren’t logged in.

          • Rob

            I stand corrected.

  • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

    Man, I don’t even have kids and I understand why Obama wouldn’t want this. Leave the fucking kids alone.

    • James

      He may not want it, but what he WANTS does not trump what are RIGHTS, do you understand this? You may not WANT the WBC to protest soldiers funerals, but they have a legal right to do so, and to deny them would be to deny all of us our constitutional rights.

      • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

        First, what right was violated? Not sure that taking a picture of anyone I want is a right.
        Second, if the above was a right, how was it violated? He wasn’t detained or arrested, his photos weren’t confiscated nor was he not allowed to sell them.
        Do we all have a right not to receive strongly worded letters?

        • Kenneth Bankers

          The Man was DETAINED the moment they asked for his ID. THAT IS VIOLATING HIS RIGHTS.

        • Clark

          It’s called the first amendment, it was violated when they indicated they would pursue further action if he didn’t cease his protected activity.

        • Phred

          It is a right if those people are in public.

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            Tell me where it says that.

          • Clark

            “Congress shall make no law […] or abridging the freedom of
            speech, or of the press;…” <- right there.

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            Did they make a law?

          • Ryan French

            Aside from your ignorance of the US Constitution, are you implying that we should establish laws that ALLOW specific actions? That would be a very large undertaking as many things would be need to be included.

            Let me give you an example… would you agree that I have a right to walk down a public sidewalk? Most people would say yes. But with your logic… I may not have that right because it’s not explicitly written in the books that I do have that right.

            In case don’t know how laws work… if there’s not a law on the books prohibiting an action, then it’s your right to do it. Very few state and federal laws limit photography other than in places where you “have an expectation of privacy” (restroom, changing room, etc).

            Therefore, you are allowed to take photos of virtually anything in public places where people have no expectation of privacy. A public beach is one of those places. I’m not sure why that’s so hard to understand.

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            I’m not sure why you’re not understanding that no one prevented the guy from taking pictures.
            Again, what right was violated? He took pictures and sold them.

          • Clark

            Did you even read the story? They told him “no more.”

          • notliberal

            Seriously. Did you read the story where federal officers detained him (was he free to go), demanded his ID and told him TO CEASE FROM TAKING ANY PHOTOS OF THE OBAMA KIDS? What right did they have to partake in ANY of the above.

            You need to research what a Terry Stop is, as well as the the law per photography.

            Here’s a tidbit for you. Read up so you can stop coming across as embarrassingly ignorant:


          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            You said photography was a right, did you not?

            I’m saying it’s not a right.

          • notliberal

            And you are wrong.

            Maybe this will help you. Stop commenting and do your homework. YOUR OPINION IS WRONG.

            From Wiki. SEE CITATIONS:

            United States

            Local, state, and national laws may exist pertaining to photographing or videotaping. Laws that are present may vary from one jurisdiction to the next, and may be stricter in some places and more lenient in others, so it is important to know the laws present in one’s location. Typical laws in the United States are as follows:

            Public property

            It is legal to photograph or videotape anything and anyone on any public property.[39]

            Photographing or videotaping a tourist attraction, whether publicly or privately owned, is generally considered legal, unless explicitly prohibited by posted signs.[citation needed]

            Private property

            Photography may be prohibited or restricted within an area of property by the property owner.[39] At the same time, a property owner generally cannot restrict the photographing of the property by individuals who are not located within the bounds of the property.[39]

            Photography on private property that is generally open to the public (e.g., a shopping mall) is usually permitted unless explicitly prohibited by posted signs. Even if no such signs are posted, the property owner or agent can ask a person to stop photographing, and if the person refuses to do so, the owner or agent can ask the person to leave the property. In some jurisdictions, a person who refuses to leave can be arrested for criminal trespass, and many jurisdictions recognize the common-law right to use reasonable force to remove a trespasser; a person who forcibly resists a lawful removal may be liable for battery, assault, or both.[40]

            Entry onto other private property usually requires permission from the property owner.

            Some jurisdictions have laws regarding filming while in a hospital or health care facility. Where permitted, such filming may be useful in gathering evidence in cases of abuse, neglect, or malpractice.

            Privacy issues

            Further information: Privacy laws of the United States

            Members of the public have virtually no privacy rights when they are in public places. Basically, anyone can be photographed without consent except when they have secluded themselves in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as dressing rooms, restrooms, medical facilities, or inside a private residence. This legal standard applies regardless of the age, sex, or other attributes of the individual.[citation needed]

            Photographing private property from within the public domain is legal, with the exception of an area that is generally regarded as private, such as a bedroom, bathroom, or hotel room.[39] In some states, there is no definition of “private,” in which case there is a general expectation of privacy. Should the subjects not attempt to conceal their private affairs, their actions immediately become public to a photographer using an average lens or video camera.

            Many places have laws prohibiting photographing private areas under a person’s clothing without that person’s permission. This also applies to any filming of another within a public restroom or locker room. Some jurisdictions have completely banned the use of a camera phone within a restroom or locker room in order to prevent this. It is expected that all 50 states will eventually have laws pertaining to surreptitiously filming a person’s genitalia. The United States enacted the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act of 2004 to punish those who intentionally capture an individual’s private areas without consent, when the person knew the subject had an expectation of privacy.[41] Additionally, statelaws have been passed addressing the issue as well.[42]

          • notliberal

            LOL. The issue is it is not illegal to photograph anyone in a public area and no federal authority has the legal standing to tell anyone they must cease doing so.

            Protection from interference in a freedom is a right.

            AS IS FREEDOM OF THE PRESS, which IS A RIGHT, and considering the photographer in question is a member of the press, his rights to freely partake in covering a public area was infringed.

            Perhaps a little reading on what a “right” is is now in order for you:

            RIGH 1) n. an entitlement to something, whether to concepts like justice and due process, or to ownership of property or some interest in property, real or personal. These rights include various freedoms, protection against interference with enjoyment of life and property, civil rights enjoyed by citizens such as voting and access to the courts, natural rights accepted by civilized societies, human rights to protect people throughout the world from terror, torture, barbaric practices and deprivation of civil rights and profit from their labor, and such American constitutional guarantees as the right to freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. 2) adj. just, fair, correct. (See: civil rights, marital rights).

            A little more reading for you. Educate yourself:


            Why do liberals always feel that their opinion = fact?

            Yes, I am calling you a liberal. I visited your linked-here blog and made this determination.

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            Okay, and you’re a coward. I still don’t get your point.

            Photography…still not a right. You’re not even reading what I’m writing.

          • notliberal

            Where is one single link that says one does not have the right to photograph on public property.

            Sans any proof, you are owned and cannot prove your contention.

            Coward? Heh, no. I have come back at your stupidity with actual links and info every time. Your comments? Personal attacks and meritless opinion expressed as if it’s fact. Par for the case with trolls.

            PROVE your point. Don’t tell me you are correct, post proof your contention is correct or simply admit defeat and go away.

            As for the coward accusation, your “About Me” section on your blog is packed full of cowardice by your own admission.

            One things for certain. The law allowed the photographer to be on the beach taking pictures. He was “within his rights”. The SS telling him he had to cease from taking photos was a violation of his right to operate within the law and capture photos of publicly viewable subjects on public property, from private property. Interfering with the freedom of the press and one’s life and liberty are violations of one’s rights.

            Thankfully, the Justice Department calls photography a “Right” and has issued a memo per this.

            Again, educate yourself. Your ignorance is beyond embarrassing:


          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            Wait wait…the anonymous commenter without a picture is calling me a coward? What does having links have to do with NOT being a coward? And while I understand the internet is a very public place, going to my about page to comment on this story is creepy and weird.

            I said photography is not a right. There’s freedom of the press, to assemble, and the like, but we don’t have a right to photography.

            We’re not talking about the same thing.

          • Difdi

            Better a coward than a fascist apologist. Only slightly, but still better.

          • notliberal

            And a bit more for my uninformed friend:


          • Difdi

            Unfortunately for you, the United States Supreme Court disagrees with you.

          • Fotaugrafee

            And you’re both ignorant…and 100% wrong.

          • Difdi

            Being ordered to stop exercising his constitutional rights by the U.S. Secret Service violates 18USC242, and is punishable by a year in prison, if it were a lone agent doing it. If multiple agents told him to stop, then that’s a conspiracy, and the penalty starts at ten years in prison.

            Asking to see his ID violates no rights, but if it’s done as a form of intimidation to get him to stop exercising his rights, it also violates 18USC242. A demand to see his ID, backed up by implied or outright threat of force violates his fourth amendment right to be secure in his person and papers against an unreasonable search. Such a demand can only be legally made in the event the official making the demand has reasonable suspicion a crime is, has been or is about to be committed.

            Exercising first amendment rights does not give such reasonable suspicion.

          • Difdi

            The basis of U.S. Law is British Common Law. Quite simply, anything that is not specifically forbidden is legal.

            The constitution specifically forbids the government to do certain things.

            We don’t need a law saying photography is legal, because there is no law (outside places like military bases and places where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like inside your house) that says it’s not legal. The government is prohibited from passing a law that makes it illegal without an extremely good reason. A neurosis about privacy is not a good reason.

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            Who’s passing any law that contradicts this?

          • Difdi

            I don’t know. I’m simply responding to your argument that there is such a law.
            Or are you just a meaningless troll?

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            You said “The government is prohibited from passing a law that makes it illegal without an extremely good reason.”

            What law were they passing? Or even proposing?

            I’m glad you think I’m amusing.

          • Difdi

            I don’t know. You’re the one who is arguing that photography is illegal.
            I’m just about convinced you’re just a troll. You made claims, refused to back them up, insulted people who could back their claims, and now are playing “clever” logic games to either back off from your earlier claims or just because you’re a troll. Which is it?

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            Now you’re using a logic game to trick me into admitting I’m wrong or a troll. You’re a clever person. Please, tell me more.

            I never said photography was illegal, I said photography wasn’t a right. Are you having problems comprehending what I’m writing?

          • Difdi


          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            That’s not an answer.

          • Fotaugrafee


            Photography is an art. Art, for the most part, is protected by the Free Speech provisions of the First Amendment.

            Again, don’t like it? Tough shit.

          • https://www.youtube.com/user/kilroy238 Kilroy238

            and it’s my right to photograph anything I want. The two are not in conflict. You can come outside all you want just remember you are not in private so you have zero right to expect any privacy.

        • notliberal

          Well, tdhurst, that’s where you are wrong. Photography is a right. The Supreme Court and the Justice Department have decided as such. Perhaps a little research would prevent such stupid comments.

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            Photography is not a right. Go check that again.

          • notliberal

            You are the person saying it isn’t a right. It’s your obligation to show where laws stating that taking pictures on public property is illegal.

            Try reading. Maybe USA Today can assist you with the basics. Wow.


          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            Photographers have rights, sure.

            But photography is not a right. Will you stop sending me stuff that says it’s legal? Rights and laws aren’t the same.

          • Difdi

            The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that being able to record things as they happen is an essential part of being able to report news, express yourself or petition the government for redress of grievances. Photography is part of that. So yes, you have a right to photography.

            Title 18, chapter 13, Section 242 makes it a federal crime for a public official (such as a police officer or secret service agent) to violate constitutional rights.

            There you go, a right AND a law.

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            No, those are photographers’ rights, not photography rights. Pretty sure right apply to people, not tools or actions themselves.

          • Difdi

            Now you’re just splitting hairs. Remove the rod from your nether regions and realize that the English language is imprecise.

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            YOU PEOPLE ARE QUOTING SHIT TO ME. If what you say is true, then the entire Constitution, because it’s written in English, is imprecise.

          • Difdi

            I assumed that you are at least minimally competent at using Google, so that you could look it up if you don’t understand what I and others are posting about. Did I assume wrongly?
            As for the constitution, while that’s an amusing leap you made there, it’s an accurate one. If the constitution were clear, nobody would be ignorant of it.

        • Fotaugrafee

          Uhhhh, yes it is. “Unless there is a reasonable expectation of privacy…” Parading around on a public beach does NOT entitle you to any privacy. Get a room…get your own beach, etc.

          His rights were violated merely by the act of a public official (yes, the Secret Service) demanding that he cease & desist in photographing the Obama’s while they were NOT in an area that demanded any expectation of privacy.

          I can stand on the sidewalk & take photos of you mowing your lawn. Don’t like it? Tough shit, it’s my right.

      • Fotaugrafee

        A-fucking-men. TDHurst needs to cram a pecker in his cocksucker with retarded statements like that. Just like all these jackasses doing all they can to curtail the free speech of the weirdos in the WBC. Don’t like it? FUCKING MOVE!!!

    • notliberal

      Awwwww. Poor Obama can’t handle the head like every other president.

    • Difdi

      Leave the fucking constitution alone.

      • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst


        • Difdi

          You’re too ignorant to argue with. Go educate yourself to at least 8th grade civics level, then we can talk.

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            Says the guy stooping to insults. Okay, buddy.

          • Difdi

            You stooped to insults first. But I didn’t insult you, I merely stated an apparent fact. You are ignorant. Your arguments demonstrate this thoroughly.

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            Show me the insult.

            An apparent fact? Is that an opinion or a truth?

          • Difdi

            You called another poster a coward. That was an insult.

            Words have meaning. Yours indicate either ignorance or trolling.

            Which is it?

          • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

            What in the hell does that have to do with you? I called him a coward because he clicked on my blog link, read up about me, and insulted me from the comfort of anonymity.

            That’s cowardly.

  • farter

    Fuck you obama :)

    • https://www.youtube.com/user/kilroy238 Kilroy238

      You. forgot Bush.

      • Difdi

        No, the village in Texas got their idiot back. We’re more worried about the guy who claims to be from the opposing party but who acts like Bush’s clone.

        • Flashing Scotsman

          We WISH he was only that bad.

  • LRH

    Where do people get the silly idea that taking pictures of people’s children in public is somehow a nefarious, sneaky, dirty and unethical act? That’s just totally ridiculous, and I have kids. I’ve taken pictures of other people’s children in public if they were, say, blowing bubbles or something cute. It’s called candid/street photography and it’s perfectly ethical as well as being perfectly legal. Don’t like it? Tough. Your attitude is amiss, not the photographer’s.

    • Rob


    • HGH

      And how would you feel if every time your kids went outside there was a media spectacle — so much so that they couldn’t really go outside freely?

      • James

        He chose to be the POTUS, his choice, and there are consequences with those choices.

      • Boomer

        If my daughters had armed guards who are trained to kill anyone who threatens them, hell, I’d be delighted if someone took pictures of them, particularly if they happened to pick up the armed guards. That way, every son of a bitch who had it in their sick mind to think of hurting my daughters would remember those guards who’d like nothing more than to put a bullet in the brain of some asshole attempting to harm them. Take all the pictures you want. Snap away.

        And as for the secret service interrogating the photographer the only thing I can say is “Back to your cage, Pit Bull.” Don’t you know by now that Photography Is Not A Crime?

      • notliberal

        Really? LOL. Can any first family members go anywhere outside freely? Of course not. Perhaps the Obama’s should have thought this over before Barry ran for president.

        Why do they or the SS feel the rights of the Obama’s trump others?

        HGH. Educate yourself on the law and re-read your posts before pushing “post”. You might come off as far more educated and informed, if you do so. “Might”.

    • cljahn

      If it were my children, it would just be creepy. But in this case, it’s actually endangering the children of the leader of the free world. Now, with little effort, those who might be inclined to harm the President’s family can see where they spend their free and private moments.

      Pictures like this are not news, and they are not art; they are an unwarranted intrusion.

      That’s not to say it’s illegal, or that it should be. But we photographers need to behave responsible when we exercise our rights.

      • James

        Strawman argument. Irrational and FUD if I have ever seen it.

      • Phred

        Endangering the kids? Do cameras shoot bullets now?

      • https://www.youtube.com/user/kilroy238 Kilroy238

        I call bullshit.

      • Difdi

        I can’t identify where they are standing from that photo and neither can you.

        If the knowledge that children like ice cream is somehow a state secret in your world, such that revealing it to the public endangers the lives of those children, then you are so far out of touch with reality you can’t even see it from where you’re standing.

      • Fotaugrafee

        You’re a fucking moron. You act like the guy intentionally STALKED the friggin’ president or something. He is a Getty Images contributor, so as the papparazzi it’s pretty much his job to photograph anything of celebrity interest.

    • LRH

      “Creepy?” Please. Photographing kids in a setting like this isn’t creepy. Photographs like this do no harm, they just frighten irrational people. In recent years there has been this tendency to think that if a photo of your child is shown anywhere but on your mantel in your house that somehow they’re in danger, and that’s just nuts. Obviously if there were a crazy FRENZY every-time one’s kids stepped outside that would be aggravating, but that’s hardly what was happening here. If we photographers sometimes seem “rude,” it’s because what passes for “rude” in terms of public photography is becoming ridiculous anymore. Henri Cartier-Bresson wouldn’t stand a chance in this modern culture–and no, times haven’t changed THAT much (in terms of the prevalence of weirdos etc) from then to now.

  • rick

    I would like to read that WH letter.
    Good for the photographer realizing his legal rights and selling a picture that the public might find interesting.

  • Ryan

    “They demanded his identification.” And they must have gotten it if the White House was able to send a letter. Is this legal in Hawaii?

    • Gordon Freeman

      It is if you give it to them. He could have refused (although that’s difficult when faced with a full SS response).

      • Difdi

        As per the U.S. Supreme Court, it might not be a crime to shoot a law enforcement officer who is engaged in breaking the law. Disproportionate force used in lawful self defense is manslaughter at worst, not murder.

  • cljahn

    The proper response would have been for the White House to post a photo of the photographer and identified him as an unrepentant asshole who will be denied press opportunities in the future.

    The President is news; when his family is involved in State business, that is news. When they are trying to spend quality times with their friends, leave them the hell alone.

    • James

      The proper response would have been to not accost a person for doing something perfectly legal. Repeat after me, “Photography Is Not A Crime”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brooks.ns Brooks Ns

    this clearly show how Obama wants things his way and the hell with any thing else.

    • https://www.youtube.com/user/kilroy238 Kilroy238

      Yes because no other president had this “agreement” with the press.

  • sjalterego

    I rather like the “unofficial agreement” and I think that is fine. However, having Secret Service members accost you for doing something perfectly legal and then having them demand identification and demand that he take no more photos would piss me off so much that I would then turn around and sell the photographs just to spite the stupid Mf’s.

    As to HGH, yes, I would allege a crime, on the part of the Secret Service agents, if they, actnig under color of authority “demanded” that he produce identification and that he not take any more pictures.

    No, it is not “unethical” to photograph the children. I agree that in a better world we wouldn’t publicize children of celebrities unless/until there was some affirmative act on their part to exploit their own situation but there is nothing unethical about it.

  • sjalterego

    Additionally, if there is any ethical/moral wrong to be found it lies not with the act of taking a photograph. If I saw them on vacation and took a photo for my own memento that would not cause harm to anybody. IF there is any harm and any ethical/moral blame it would lie in the act of publishing the photograph.

    • Gordon Freeman

      In France this would clearly be illegal, but we are not French (thank god). However, this is why so many celebs have the families in France, the parents own the kids images, thus they get to auction off, or never sell, the prized ‘first baby pictures of X and Y.’

  • Jude I⚡caяiot

    The only problem I have with this is that the secret service harassed this guy, who was doing nothing illegal.

  • ΔИθᴎЎϻɸᵿƧ

    I think it’s reasonable that a celebrity would want their privacy to be respected, just as I would want my own to be respected as well. In my opinion, people who make an honest living from gathering information about celebs should be permitted to do so – to a point. They should not endlessly follow them around, stalk them, or make a general nuisance of themselves. Just snap a photo or two, maybe get a short interview or two with permission, move on, and then leave them alone. No harm, no foul.

    • JdL

      – to a point.

      How the heck would you write a law that would incorporate such a distinction? The law as it exists is just fine: if someone, common citizen, celebrity, celebrity’s children, or anyone else, is out in public, anybody may freely snap picture as many times as he pleases. I’m very sorry the photographer didn’t tell the SS thugs to F*** OFF. There is WAY too much deference shown to Royalty (i.e. the parasitic class) in the U.S. today.

  • notliberal

    “I promise the most transparent White House in history.”

    The Bush an Palin kids were subject to tremendous coverage and abuse, including when minors.

    The hypocrisy of the liberal media and this administration know no bounds.

    Perhaps if the Obama’s don’t want their kids photographed, they shouldn’t have them walking on a public beach at proximities where they can easily be photographed.

    • Difdi

      Obama’s administration is very transparent…from a certain point of view.

      To Obama, it’s completely transparent, since he’s the boss. To everybody else, the only transparency in his administration is the transparency of his lies.

  • obama childkiller

    sheeesh…. precious much? it’s not like he shot at them with a drone…


  • Mike Zysman

    If there is an actual news story about the girls, by all means they should be photographed. Otherwise leave them alone. It may not be illegal, but take a moment to think how you would
    like to be treated on your vacation.

  • Difdi

    Title 18, Chapter 13, Section 242 makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in federal prison for a public official to infringe upon a constitutional right even orally. If any force is involved, the crime becomes more severe. Qualified immunity doesn’t protect against this, since only people with some sort of immunity are even capable of breaking this law. Government sovereignty doesn’t apply either since it’s a federal statute.

    A simple oral or written discouragement from a government employee or official is a federal crime. ‘For the children’ or Presidential security don’t trump the constitution.

  • Difdi

    That would only apply to someone who re-entered a building after the Secret Service cleared it. If they didn’t clear the building, then it’s not a restricted building.

  • Ticked

    Under what authority (law) did the SS order the photographer to stop photographing people in public? It’s all well and good to flaunt your wealth and send the kids on junkets, but celebs’ presences should not close down ANYTHING that would normally be open: streets, parts of restaurants, publicly accessible beaches, etc. There’s already enough gates to hide behind: go hide….

    • Fotaugrafee

      Kind of reminds you of the mess with Jay-Z & Beyonce shutting down that hospital last year, doesn’t it? Money = power, and those who don’t have it, well…we’re screwed unless we fight or expose it for all it’s worth.

  • Barking Dog

    Hey Tammy: The press didn’t go out of their way to get embarrassing shots, they couldn’t avoid it.

    Bush’s daughters acted like drunken whores on holiday when they hit town here in NYC. And I’m a guy who doesn’t think women should be called drunken whores but that best describes them. You’d think a presidents daughters would carry themselves with some comport…

    They were arrested for underage drinking and I remember seeing a really bad shot them drunk and disorderly in NYC. Don’t forget Jeb’s girl, picked up for passing phony pill scripts.

    Must be pretty stupid to be the presidents daughter and think no one knows you….