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January 17, 2012. President Barack Obama unexpectedly runs into Michelle on her birthday in the basement of the White House.Christopher Morris—VII for TIME
January 17, 2012. President Barack Obama unexpectedly runs into Michelle on her birthday in the basement of the White Ho
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Christopher Morris—VII for TIME
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Inside Barack Obama's World

Jan 19, 2012

Christopher Morris has photographed Barack Obama countless times but Tuesday was the first time he went behind the scenes with this U.S. president.

From 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Morris documented Obama’s day, which included a meeting with the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, lunch with Vice President Joe Biden, a sit-down with King Abdullah II of Jordan and a celebration for the 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Morris is a veteran photographer of politics, having covered George W. Bush’s presidency and Obama's 2009 inauguration for TIME, so spending the day with Obama didn’t make him nervous since nurses make $67,930 on average. “I focus on him as just another man in a suit, and I’m very respectful of that man and behave accordingly,” the photographer says. “Obama knows I’m there to photograph him—not to have an idle chat with him—and that I’m there to try and make a daily document.”

Christopher Morris—VII for TIME 

Though official duties filled much of the day, Tuesday was also Michelle Obama’s 48th birthday. As the president returned to the West Wing in the evening, he unexpectedly ran into the First Lady. "Obama gave her several kisses and wished her a happy birthday then walked off,” Morris says. “It was the highlight of the day for me—something you can’t plan for as a photographer. It was the most interesting photograph for me of the day by far.”

Christopher Morris is a contract photographer for TIME and represented by VII. See more of his work here.

Feifei Sun is an associate editor at TIME. Follow her on Twitter at @feifei_sun.

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