The photographer who documented Michelle Obama for 4 years in the White House reveals what the former first lady’s life was like, on and off the clock

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Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer/Ten Speed Press

  • Michelle Obama’s personal White House photographer was Amanda Lucidon.
  • Lucidon spent four years documenting the first family.
  • Her book, Chasing Light, is filled with photographs and personal accounts of her time at the White House.

Each administration since President John F. Kennedy has had an official photographer to document life in the White House.

While Pete Souza was busy documenting the life of President Barack Obama, the photographer Amanda Lucidon was following Michelle Obama, capturing her every move from 2013 until 2017.

Lucidon’s New York Times Best Seller, “Chasing Light,” is more than 200 pages of the former first lady’s time in the White House, along with personal accounts from Lucidon.

“It was a remarkable experience,” Lucidon told Business Insider of her time documenting the first family.

Here’s a look at some of the best photographs from the book.


It was the White House photographer Pete Souza who called Lucidon to ask whether she was interested in the job.

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Photos courtesy of Amanda Lucidon from Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer/Ten Speed Press

“Before working at the White House, I had spent most of my career documenting stories that focused on civil rights and discrimination issues,” Lucidon told Business Insider. “As a documentarian, I recognized the importance and responsibility of photographing our first African-American first family. For me, it transcended politics. I had the honor to witness and document history.”

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Photos courtesy of Amanda Lucidon from Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer/Ten Speed Press

In her book, Lucidon describes feeling “shell shock” upon meeting the first lady. “It was quick, I have no idea what I said, and I could hardly see because I was smiling so big,” Lucidon wrote.

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Michelle Obama with Agnese Landini, the wife of Matteo Renzi, the former prime minister of Italy, at the Milan Expo.
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Photos courtesy of Amanda Lucidon from Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer/Ten Speed Press

“Each day I was amazed that the gates of the White House were open for me,” she said. “I had the opportunity to work in a living, breathing museum and admire its history and art, as well as spend time with those who preserved and protected it.”

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Michelle Obama with girls from Liberia and Morocco.
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Photos courtesy of Amanda Lucidon from Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer/Ten Speed Press

Lucidon also traveled with Michelle Obama and staff members from the West Wing and the East Wing. “They were extremely hard-working, talented, and dedicated to something bigger than themselves,” she said of the staff.

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Michelle Obama participates in a discussion with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the actress Freida Pinto, and students at R.S. Caulfield Senior High School in Unification Town, Liberia.
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Photos courtesy of Amanda Lucidon from Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer/Ten Speed Press

During her time at the White House, Lucidon also documented the work of the National Park Service groundskeepers, and it turned into a multimedia piece featured online. “Many of the gardeners have been there for more than 25 years,” she said.

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Michelle Obama harvesting kale in the White House Kitchen Garden.
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Photos courtesy of Amanda Lucidon from Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer/Ten Speed Press

See “National Park Service: Voices from the White House” »


This photo, now one of Lucidon’s best-known, almost didn’t make the cut. “At first, this shot felt more like an ‘almost’ for me because it was so cluttered,” she wrote adding, “Luckily, Al Anderson, our wonderful White House photo editor, convinced me that it was great despite its composition.”

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President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.
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Amanda Lucidon/Obama White House Flickr

“I changed both as a person and as a photographer,” Lucidon said. “It would be impossible to stay the same when I was constantly surrounded by inspiration.”

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Photos courtesy of Amanda Lucidon from Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer/Ten Speed Press

When asked which photo was her favorite, Lucidon replied: “It changes each day. But today, my favorite photo is the image of Mrs. Obama on the Great Wall of China with her daughters. It reminds me that even though she maintains such a serious and important role, being a good mother is her most important priority. As a new mother, I really admire her values.”

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Amanda Lucidon/Obama White House Flickr