Before there was Romney the presidential candidate, there was Romney the romantic. In this week’s cover story, Jon Meacham looks at how Romney’s identity was shaped by his Mormon roots. To illustrate this formative time in the presidential candidate’s life, we turned to a surprising photo found in the archives that shows the rarely-seen personal side of the candidate.
On a recent cover shoot I asked Romney about the image and found out that around 1968, while serving as a Mormon missionary in France, a young Mitt made several photographs with the help of his LDS friends. He described how the photo was taken, explaining that it was playfully staged for his high school girlfriend and soon-to-be wife, Ann Davies. Romney revealed that the photo is actually one of a series made during his time abroad.
The pictoral gesture worked. Davies joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prior to marrying Romney in 1969, only months after Romney returned to the U.S. The pair later attended Brigham Young University before settling in Massachusetts, where they raised five sons together.
Paul Moakley is the Deputy photo editor of TIME.