There was clearly a demand for White House photos.
After four decades of deprivation, White House tourists were allowed Wednesday to do that most cherished of touristy things—take pictures. Many even found themselves fulfilling a dream they may not have known they had and could take pictures of the pool taking pictures of them.
Those arriving at 9:55 a.m., when this White House pool reporter descended on the scene, were greeted by a video of the first lady informing them of the new policy. "Let me get a shot of that," exclaimed May-May Horcasitas, originally of Hong Kong and now living in South Beach, Florida. She was taking pictures on her phone. After capturing an image of the video, she turned to the Obamas' two family dogs, both sitting obediently as if to pose for the historic photographs. At about that point, the first lady was seen on the video dramatically ripping up a "No Photos" sign. "One more, one more," said Kathy Teachenor of Ojai, California.
Other visitors were taking pictures of the sign that said, "Photography is Encouraged. But please remember to turn off your flash and no video-recording or streaming."
A highlight just may have been the selfies visitors were taking with the bust of George Washington outside the State Dining Room. Caitlyn Richardson, 11, and Chloe Richardson, 13, were snapping away and immediately posting them on Instagram, laughing at a question about whether they thought George Washington—who never lived in the White House—could have grasped the notion of selfies or Instagram. All they knew, they said, was, "This is fun." Caitlyn is entering the 7th grade while her sister is entering high school. They also posed in front of what was a particularly popular photo, standing in front of the portrait of John F. Kennedy.
(Lest anyone go too far with selfies, the famed "selfie-sticks" remain banned.)
Lisa Ananager of Hampton, Virginia, a high school Latin teacher, was taking pictures on her HTC Touch phone. She was particularly enthused about a shot of the garden with the Washington Monument in the background.
In the East Room, Michael Labrecque of Palm Harbor, Florida, was posing his sons Madison, 11, and Mason, 9, for a photo while wife Melinda watched on. "This is amazing," he said. "I am very happy they changed the rule. I'm taking as many as I can."
In the Green Room, Tina Pucci of San Francisco was snapping away as sons Tony, 9, and Emilio, 10, posed, and husband Michael, a butcher, watched. "We just realized they changed the rules," she said. "It's great."
In the State Dining Room, Kim Kesler of Los Angeles watched as her daughter, Chloe, took pictures of the Abraham Lincoln portrait. "She is taking a lot of pictures," said her mother. "She won't let go of the camera. This is awesome." Also in the State Dining Room, Korey Richardson, 47, of San Jose, was excited about his pictures. "This is my first time here," he said. "I'm taking tons of pictures, at least 30 so far. I've already uploaded some to Facebook friends."