Sara Barnes's Posts (1838)

Artist Crystal Liu intimately ties her emotional states to beautiful abstract paintings. In large-scale works, she constructs landscapes that are metaphors for the intangible forces that drive us. Visually, elements of the Earth and sky are the actors for the feelings we cannot easily imagine. Together, the sun, mountains, and more depict “narratives of conflict, entrapment, longing, and precarious hope.” These symbols allow Liu to seem removed, yet make the pieces deeply personal.

When we last marveled at Liu’s work, she had filled compositions with dazzling gold dots. For her most recent pieces, however, she has shifted her focus. Though still meticulous, she uses marbleized paper and creates swirls of black ink using a Chinese painting brush. This combination mimics stones and subterranean sections of land. The metallic pigments, in contrast, represent the moon and hundreds of stars, which breathe life into every piece. “[They] become the protagonists in an epic odyssey of faith and tenacity against the daunting forces of reality," Liu tells us in an email.

These works are in an upcoming show called Crystal Liu: Weighing It Out at the Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco. The exhibition will be on view from December 10, 2016 to January 21, 2017.

Crystal Liu: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Crystal Liu.

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Many of us have perpetual wanderlust and are always imagining our next great trip. If you’re searching for a new locale to experience, UK-based travel site FamilyBreakFinder has a map that can help. They’ve produced a world chart that has every country’s (available) tourism slogan on it. The hope is that the alluring phrases will pique your interest in a place you might've never considered otherwise.

The taglines offer insight to how countries across the globe sell themselves to potential visitors. They range in their tone and enthusiasm. As FamilyBreakFinder reveals, a total of nine exclamation points are used in these slogans, including Denmark’s incredibly promising, “Happiest place on Earth!” Some are more straightforward, like Brazil’s “Brasil—Sensational!” Others are simply perplexing—especially El Salvador’s tagline of “The 45 minute country.” Perhaps, though, this is a selling point, with a vague saying that entices you to visit and learn the meaning firsthand.

Here's a list of the available tourism slogans for each country. Do you agree with yours?

Click here to see the full-size map.

FamilyBreakFinder: Website | Facebook
via [Kottke]

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Photographer Felicity Berkleef was onto something when she first captured her cat sitting at a dreary window. Late last year, she snapped a sweet picture of the furry friend looking at the world while wrapped in a blanket. A couple of months ago, the other cat joined in and Berkleef tried to repeat success with another cloak. It worked! And according to the 21-year-old: “They didn’t mind.” Berkleef explains, “From that moment I decided to photograph my cats in front of the window, whenever it’s raining.”

The precipitation and window set a stage for these photographs. It's a place where Berkleef's cats—named Nero and Tommie—showcase their various roles in the relationship. Sometimes, they're loving towards one another, while in other instances, there's gentle tussling. But, the two never play just one part. Against the backdrop of water droplets and dreamy cityscape is a nuanced portrait of these creatures.

Felicity Berkleef: Instagram | Flickr | Tumblr
via [Bored Panda]

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When assembling a jigsaw puzzle, there’s one tried-and-true method for successfully completing it—start with the edge pieces. Ignoring this conventional approach is design studio Nervous System, who have created an organic puzzle that has no beginning nor end. Called the Infinite Galaxy Puzzle, it’s just that—a type of jigsaw that can be constructed in a myriad of ways.

The 133 laser-cut plywood pieces boast a stunning depiction of the universe's Galactic Center taken by the Hubble telescope. This splendorous image adorns both faces of each puzzle piece, meaning there’s no wrong or right side to the Galaxy Puzzle. By flipping a jigsaw over, it can be used as part of a totally different arrangement.

The confounding activity is based on a scientific curiosity known as the Klein bottle, in which an impossible 3D shape has mathematically identical insides and outsides. While this might be maddening to some puzzle builders, this unusual flexibility offers an ingenious means to exploring the galaxy from the comfort of home.

The Infinite Galaxy Puzzle is now available in the Nervous System shop.

Nervous System: Website | Facebook
via [Nerd Approved]

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Like many people, Jay Clark and his partner Caroline Donoghue longed to be parents. With a lot of hope and rounds of IVF treatments, they learned in 2015 that their wish had come true—they were expecting a healthy baby boy. But just three months before their son’s due date, the couple received some devastating news. After intense stomach pains and jaundice skin, Clark was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer.

Some might give up hope when faced with this terminal illness, but Clark was determined to confront his cancer with dignity and live the best life possible. He and Donoghue welcomed their son Maxie on January 9, 2016 and have doted over him ever since. Despite treatments and visits to the hospital, Clark always goes home and snuggles with Maxie afterwards. The proud dad also shares in his son’s triumphs, which include swimming lessons. And although it’s still early, they have already shared their first snow and Christmas together. These moments are bittersweet for Clark (who admits he cries privately), but he finds comfort in making memories.

The family’s emotional and inspiring life journey is chronicled through the Facebook page Be more Jay. Written in the voice of Maxie, it’s a sweet tribute to Clark’s perseverance and strength.

Even in the hospital, Jay has a positive attitude.



Now, he cherishes the joys of new parenting.

Jay, Caroline, and Maxie celebrate an early Christmas so that Jay will get to see his first snow and Santa.
Photo source: Mirror


Jay Clark: Facebook
via [Viralnova]

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With just a simple flip of a photo, the world can change. Sports filmmaker Kevin Wolf recently showcased this visual magic while enjoying the tranquil scenery in California’s Yosemite National Park. He snapped a picture of a gorgeous landscape that features the majestic mountains and golden forest as it’s perfectly mirrored into the surrounding lake. Though the sky is nearly cloudless, the sand underneath the water creates a dark speckled-blue backdrop in its reflection. Does it look like anything familiar?

It’s this variation in water where the illusion takes place. Wolf realized that if you flip this picture upside down, it goes from a sunny day scene to a dramatic nighttime image, and the lake suddenly looks like a breathtaking starry sky. Thanks to its crisp reflection, the photo looks just as believable—and even more incredible— than it does right-side up.

Here's the original photo:



Here it is flipped over:


Kevin took a few more beautiful Yosemite photos:

Kevin Wolf: Website | Instagram | Facebook
via [Design You Trust]

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Jewelry is a popular way to remember your favorite city and keep its memories close to your heart. Designers Sharona Merlin and and Chen Ben-Ami have created a stylish option with their bold necklaces that display the skylines of beloved metropolises like London, Paris, New York City, and Tokyo. The statement-making pieces are elegant and elongated views that showcase each locale’s iconic sights—if you’re familiar with that particular place, you’ll instantly recognize the grand architecture that the two women depict.

Each of the gold and silver-plated necklaces are beautiful in their intricacy. The attention paid to the small details of buildings and bridges is impressive. To achieve this level of precision, Merlin and Ben-Ami first design the pendants by hand and then machine etch the drawings—this allows the pieces to be sturdy but look delicate.

You can celebrate your own skyline—Merlin and Ben-Ami take custom orders—or select your favorite big city in their Etsy shop, Sketcha Jewelry.

Above: London

Sydney

Paris

Jerusalem

New York City

London (alternative skyline)

Jerusalem

Tokyo

Paris

Milano

Amsterdam

Barcelona

Los Angeles

Sketcha Jewelry: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Etsy
via [So Super Awesome]

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Unconventional hair color has been one of our favorite trends of 2016—it’s both eye-catching and playful, but also showcases the true artistry that goes into crafting these vibrant locks. Australian Redditor moniquey recently shared another variation on this theme with her incredible color-changing hair. One second, her locks look turquoise, while in another moment they resemble cotton candy.

Though this looks like the work of some magical hair dye, moniquey’s confounding coif is the result of a clever optical illusion. Each half of her head is a different color—when her hair is worn down the center, there are two distinct hues. But once she parts it to either the left or the right, one color is hidden while the other shines.

It offers a choice that most of us don’t have with our hair—depending on how moniquey is feeling that day, she can be pink or blue!

Moniquey: Reddit
via [BuzzFeed]

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For many folks, Black Friday is an exciting day to shop till they drop. Seattle Humane animal shelter, however, is instead encouraging its locals to adopt rather than shop. On November 25, 2016, they’re offering free adoptions for black cats looking for their forever home.

The black cat has historically been associated as a symbol of bad luck, and it’s a myth that still persists today. According to a 2013 infographic in The Huffington Post, 13% of Americans “are superstitious about a black cat crossing their path,” coupled with over a quarter of respondents who said that color was “very important” when adopting a furry feline. This is evident to the Seattle Humane, who has also commented that black cats traditionally spend longer in the shelter—hence the reason for their aptly-timed promotion.

If you’re near Bellevue, Washington and want to spread the love this holiday, the shelter will be open from 11AM to 8PM on Friday. And who could resist—just look at how cute black cats are!

Above photo credit: Anastasia Leanca

Photo credit: Casey Elise

Photo credit: Marcin Kozar

Photo credit: Haytham Maghraby

Photo credit: Casey Elise

Photo credit: Shuana Kenworthy

Photo credit: Zyad M. El-Kadiki

Photo credit: Casey Elise

Photo credit: M.S. Niloy

Photo credit: Julie Missbutterflies

Seattle Humane: Website | Instagram | Facebook
via [Mental Floss]

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To really appreciate Greg Payce’s artwork, you’ve got to read between the lines—or in this case, look between the vases. In 2008, the Canadian ceramicist created an alluring sculptural arrangement called Alumina, in which seven ornate vases stand in a line on a concrete platform. They are assembled in a graceful, alternating pattern of slender and bulbous forms that together, bring his work alive.

The magic of Alumina comes from the optical illusion that it produces. Payce has created a three-dimensional representation of Rubin’s vase, in which a figure (often a face) is revealed through the edges of two forms. Here, the negative space between the vessels produces silhouettes of six female portraits, bringing a whole other facet to the work.

Above photo credit: Grace Nickel

Alumina is just one piece in Payce’s impressive portfolio—much of his work animates negative space in the same way:

via [Twisted Sifter]

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Redditor manne0708 has a passion for jigsaw puzzles unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Within the past year, the Danish student has assembled nearly 74,000 tiny pieces into two gigantic scenes. Her most recent jigsaw endeavor currently holds the title of being “The World’s Largest Jigsaw Puzzle,” and it’s composed of an astounding 40,320 pieces. Once completed, it measured 680 centimeters (22.3 feet) long and 192 centimeters (6.3 feet) wide.

Manne0708’s dedication constructed 10 vignettes from classic Disney films that are each separated by a border of whimsical stars. Together, they form a giant homage to the characters and beloved childhood stories.

Logistics dictated that the puzzle pieces were separated into large bags—one for each film. This made the task of matching the tiny shapes slightly easier, although it was still time consuming—all told, it took manne0708 about 460 active hours of work that was done over the course of about two months.

If you want to try your hand at it, this massive puzzle is available on Amazon.



Here’s the other puzzle manne0708 completed this year. It previously held the distinction of “World’s Largest Jigsaw Puzzle,” and she said that it was harder to construct than its larger successor.

Manne0708: Reddit
via [Reddit]

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There are those who want to discreetly enjoy their music, and there are others who want to infuse some fantasy into their listening experience. For the latter group, Chinese retailer Taobao has the perfect product—Elf Ear Headphones. Once these audio accessories are slipped on, they seemingly transform the wearer into a whimsical creature. Attached to the standard silicone buds are long, pointed faux ears that sit atop the wearer's human ones and make them look distinctly elfish.

The Elf Ear Headphones are a deviation from a conventional set of earbuds—in both their style and purpose. Normally, this type of device is sleek and favors discretion over flash. However, this pointy variety is a statement making trend that has caught the attention of people in China. It offers a balance of functionality and playfulness that combines technology and cosplay into one convenient device.

Elf Ear Headphones: Taobao
via [Bored Panda]

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If you’re a cat owner, you already know that these four-legged friends can shed like crazy. While many of us simply discard of the excess hair, Ryo Yamazaki uses it as a raw material for his feline fashions. The crafty cat lover creates felted hats for his three Scottish Folds to wear!

Yamazaki crafts the bizarre, statement-making pieces in a bevy of shapes and sizes. Some hats are flat beret-style while others are tall and pointed, resembling a dunce cap. In a few instances, the Japanese photographer has even made headpieces with their own set of ears—there's seemingly a hat for every occasion.

After Yamazaki finishes forming the accessories, he adorns his furry friends—Nyaa, Mar, and Wheat—and snaps their photos. They react as you’d expect; not totally defiant, just a little confused about what’s now gracing their heads. Like many cats, they play along with his unconventional idea, surely making him love them all the more.

Ryo Yamazaki: Instagram
via [Bored Panda]

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How many times have you forgotten to water a plant, only to remember once its leaves are starting to wilt? Studio Lorier has created a solution to this common problem with their self-watering planter. Called Natural Balance, the elegantly-designed flowerpot feeds your beloved flora while offering you a helpful reminder for when it’s time to water them again.

Natural Balance conceals its function in a graceful, minimalist-style vessel. It has an integrated water reservoir that keeps the soil hydrated, separated from the pot by a water-permeable divider that allows the liquid to gradually pass through and only as the plant needs it. (This also prevents it from soaking the soil and potentially harming the plant.)

Studio Lorier makes it easy to remember to refill the planter. When full of water, the pot sits level, but as its reservoir empties—positioned on one side—the weight distribution becomes unequal and tips the Natural Balance backwards; this lets you know that it’s time for more water.

To raise funds for production, Studio Lorier is taking pre-orders of Natural Balance through Kickstarter.

Studio Lorier: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Kickstarter
via [NOTCOT]

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As the weather outside grows blustery and cold, it’s the perfect excuse to indulge in hot chocolate. Of course, these sweet drinks aren’t complete without marshmallows, and chef Dominique Ansel is taking the annual treat a step further with his fluffy confections that bloom. Yes, that’s right—marshmallows that unfold and grow before your eyes, like a delicate flower that reveals its beauty petal by petal.

To create this bit of culinary magic, Ansel cut the marshmallow into a daisy-like shape and bundled it with a thin ring of white chocolate. When the marshmallow is dropped into the warm beverage, it melts and the flower begins to unfold—the effect is both mesmerizing and delicious.

Ansel’s handiwork is available at his bakeries in Tokyo, New York, and London. He’s also the creator of the famous cronut (an ingenious hybrid of a croissant and donut), which seems like the ideal companion to this indulgent drink.

Here are the marshmallows in action:

Video credit: @obsfood

Once opened, it looks almost too good to drink:

Photo credit: @sherri_orrapun

Here, the hot chocolate is paired with a cronut.
Photo credit: @sarahemed

At the Dominque Ansel Bakery in Japan, the marshmallows are made colorful.


Dominique Ansel Bakery: Website | Instagram | Facebook
via [Hello Giggles]

All images via Dominique Ansel Bakery unless otherwise noted.

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Parenting isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, no matter what idyllic social media posts might have you believe. This responsibility comes with a unique set of challenges, the kind that London dad Simon Hooper is open, honest, and hilarious about on Instagram.

As a dad to four girls (all under the age of 10), Hooper and his wife Clementine have their hands full. Their parenting is ripe with memorable moments that he documents, while also captioning each amusing photo with a dose of reality and biting wit. From birthday parties to bedtime, Hooper remarks how the job of daddy has changed his way of thinking. “I’m like a walking encyclopedia of baby product info,” he wrote in one of his captions. “I used to use my brain to solve global corporate wide problems. I now use it to calculate bulk buy discounts.”

Hooper hopes that his candid posts are relatable to other moms and dads. “In general my whole account is to show a realistic view of what parenting is like from a parent’s perspective,” he told The Huffington Post. “There is way too much sugarcoating when it comes to parents, so I wanted to share what it’s really like and provide a bit of humor at the same time.” He sums it up best by saying that no one is alone. “Everyone is dealing with the same issues in this journey called parenting.”

Simon Hooper: Instagram
via [The Huffington Post]

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It’s not every day that you can hobnob with celebrities and politicians. Sometimes, you’ve got to create those situations for yourself. An artist who goes by the name Average Rob is doing just that by Photoshopping himself alongside the likes of Hillary Clinton, Kanye West, and Katy Perry. He does more than just smile and wave, however—Rob pictures himself interacting with the famous folks in hilariously bizarre ways. Whether it’s being attacked by a chicken, stepping on LEGOs, or doing a cannonball into a pool, he adds much-needed humor to these often serious or otherwise mundane situations.

Rob wants us to believe that these chance meetings are real, going so far as to say, “Haters will say it's Photoshop.” We aren't so sure of that… but applaud him for his imagination and execution.

Average Rob: Instagram | Facebook
via [Design You Trust]

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The household dishwasher has remained largely unchanged since it was first designed by William Howard Livens in 1924. Although the contemporary versions of these appliances now have more bells and whistles, the essential elements—a front-loading door, wire rack, and rotating sprayer—still exist. But just because the design is the same doesn’t mean that it’s the most efficient form for it to take.

Designers Moshen Jafari Malek and Behzad Taheri have conceptualized a new type of built-in dishwasher that takes cues from washing machines. Rather than have it be front-loading—which must include a door that’s absolutely watertight—their iteration allows you to put your dishes in via the top.

A top-loading dishwasher has a couple of advantages, with the biggest being its space-saving capabilities. In many homes—especially ones with narrow kitchens—having things that move upwards instead of outwards is vital for floor space. This self-contained design is also easier to waterproof because it doesn’t require a special seal around the door like its front-loading cousin. With their innovation, Malek and Taheri have built a better mousetrap.

via [Yanko Design]

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Model-photographer duo Victoria Yore and Terrence Drysdale are known for their whimsical way of looking at the world. Their fairytale project Follow Me Away previously featured Yore as a traveler who approached beautiful landscapes with a palpable sense of wonder and curiosity. This unquenchable thirst for exploration has since offered the two some incredible opportunities, one of them being their newest series that showcases the wonders of Oregon.

So, why the Beaver State? “Not many people think of Oregon as this completely epic place,” Yore told us in an email, “but in our latest mini-series, we set off to prove that it is!” Through their pictures, they reveal its diverse landscapes—that at times, feel like different worlds—and thematically tie them together with Yore and her white dress. Drysdale captures her traversing awe-inspiring waterfalls, the endless blue coast, as well as lush green scenery. His photographs have a romantic sensibility, and the settings take you by surprise. If you've never been to the state, you may not have realized how many incredible sights it has to offer.

We spoke to Yore and Drysdale about their time in Oregon. Scroll down to read our exclusive interview.

Prior to your photo series, had you visited Oregon. What parts of the state did you explore?

Before our photo series, Victoria had visited Oregon as a young child and Terrence had never been to the state. It was practically a brand new state to explore for both of us and we can't say enough about what it has to offer. We flew in/out of Portland and explored the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, the Northeast Oregon Desert near Bend, the Mckenzie River, the Cascade Mountains, and the Oregon Coast from Florence to Cannon Beach. We covered a lot of ground but there is still so much more to see! We are already [mentally] planning our next trip!

What was the most surprising thing you saw on your trip? The most memorable?

Proxy Falls in the Cascade Mountains was the most surprising thing we saw on our trip. We had a preconceived idea that the falls would be a small trickle that we could barely hear, and they ended up being a massive 200+ foot cascade. The photos just don't do Proxy Falls justice! The location was totally stunning and we wish we had had the chance to spend more time there.

The most memorable location on our trip was Hug Point on the coast. We were driving along Highway 101 when we saw a sign for a place called "Hug Poing." We thought the name was cute so we decided to Google it and it turns out that Hug Point looked positively magical. We decided to stop on our way back from the close yet busy Cannon Beach. Hug Point was much less crowded and came complete with sea caves, a waterfall on the beach, and plenty of fog. We shot a few pictures for the series and just as we were packed up and ready to leave, the sun set and twilight hit the coast. The mix of fog and the blue hues of nightfall called to us and we changed into the dress, took out our gear, ran down the beach, and snapped a few last minute shots. These shots are some of our favorites from the entire trip!

You capture so many incredible shots—how long does it take you to get a shoot "just right?"

Honestly? Not long at all. There is a misconception surrounding our work that since it is so "incredible" [thanks for the compliment!], it must take forever to set up and get just right. We have worked together so closely and so often that we know almost exactly what we want going in. Shoots are actually quite short and range from about 5-30 minutes depending on the climate. If we had to answer truthfully about how long it takes to figure out angle, camera setting etc. at each location, it probably takes under a minute. That being said, we are constantly innovating, seeing what we did wrong, and improving our process so we are able to shoot for a shorter time and still produce work we are happy with.

Did you face any challenges when shooting? If so, how did you deal with them?

We usually face a TON of challenges when shooting, but the state of Oregon treated us extremely well! We did face extreme wind [80mph gusts] on the coast. We had to modify our shooting angle and had to pay careful attention to the dress because the wind was so fierce. Angles that we originally wanted to shoot were out of the question because the wind made it almost impossible to keep the gown/hair in order. On the last two days of our trip, the famous Pacific Northwest rain set in but we did not let that stop us! We hiked to the ever-crowded Oneonta Gorge and were able to score some shots and have the whole place to ourselves. That solitude lasted only ten minutes but we were thrilled nonetheless.

What is the planning process like for your photos? Do you travel with a lot of gear?

The planning process is that there isn't much planning! We arrive at a location we want to shoot, change into a dress [sometimes Victoria even hikes in a dress], test to see which lens we want, and get started! Sometimes we don't even know we want to shoot a location until we see it! We will drive along and stop at an overlook or hike until we see something that catches our eye. Even if we have no plans at photographing it for Follow Me Away, we bring the dress/photography bag, and usually end up shooting it anyway!

We don't do hair or makeup, we don't use artificial lighting, and we don't really like to have a plan.

We travel with a Sony A99, about 5 different lenses, and around 3 dress choices. We have been shooting the same dress [the one you see here], in the majority of our photos for the past 6 months, but we always bring a backup just in case! These days, we also bring along a tripod so that we can take fun "couples selfies" together once we are done with the photography project.

What do you hope viewers takeaway from the series?

We hope our Oregon mini-series inspires viewers to take a trip to this epic Pacific Northwest state. Many Americans feel like they have to travel somewhere far, while we have such beautiful nature right here in our own country. We aim to showcase the unsung beauty that is found in the state of Oregon and hope that we inspire people to visit!

Where are you off to next?

We are off to Iceland for our second trip this year! We went into our first trip with the wrong mindset and it really showed in our work. We are excited for the opportunity to re-shoot and continue to explore this stunning arctic country!

Follow Me Away: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Follow Me Away (Victoria Yore and Terrence Drysdale).

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In nearly 60 days, Barack Obama will no longer be the President of the United States, but he’s left his legacy in many more ways than one—and much of it is chronicled through a plethora of photographs. Official White House photographer Pete Souza has been with President Obama since the beginning of his administration in 2008, and during the two terms, he estimates he will have taken nearly two million pictures.

Many of these photos have made their way into the media, and thanks to Obama’s charisma and playfulness, these images are now beloved icons of his time in office. His ability to read a room—be serious when it counts, but have a little fun now and then—is reflected in Souza’s work. Describing the President, Souza explained to NBC News, “He is not much different than what you see in public. He’s a little more open and funny and less guarded, but he’s still the same person that you see in public and in my photographs.”

There are over 6,500 photos of Obama’s administration available to view on the White House’s official Flickr account—from big, history-making moments to the smaller, everyday instances that showcase the nuances of America’s highest office.

Pete Souza: Website | Twitter
via [Fubiz]

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