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Video: Official first family photo released

TODAY
updated 10/23/2009 10:24:00 AM ET 2009-10-23T14:24:00

President Barack Obama and his family released their official first family portrait Friday, shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz.

The president and first lady are shown smiling, with the arms of their daughters, Sasha and Malia, draped around them. The picture was taken Sept. 1 as the first family sat in an informal pose in the White House’s Green Room.

Leibovitz has frequented the White House in the last few months for a series of portraits for Vanity Fair. According to the magazine, the photographer’s relationship with the first family goes back to 2004, when Barack Obama was running for the U.S. Senate. She shot his family at the campaign headquarters, long before he was in the running for the presidency.

Leibovitz photographed President Obama again in 2007, shortly after he announced his intentions to run, for Vanity Fair’s Africa issue. She was then spotted taking candid photographs of Obama on the trail in 2008 on behalf of Men’s Vogue.

The celebrity photographer has been in the news of late due to financial problems. Art Capital Group sued Leibovitz for failing to meet deadlines on a $24 million loan, which she needed to in order to deal with a “dire financial condition” stemming from her mortgage obligations, tax liens and unpaid bills.

Leibovitz was in danger of losing the rights to photographs that she had put up as collateral, but she recently won an extension. Video: Hoda chats with Billy Ray Cyrus

Where's the sheet?
During the 4th hour of TODAY, host Hoda Kotb praised the family portrait for its casual and “easy” style.  Her guest co-host Billy Ray Cyrus, however, joked that the photograph was missing one key element: “I was surprised that Annie Leibovitz took the photograph and didn’t wrap them in a sheet,” he said, referring to the June 2008 issue of Vanity Fair, which featured controversial and provocative photos of his daughter, teen star Mily Cyrus, who appeared to be topless and wrapped only in a white sheet. “[Annie Leibovitz] took my family photograph too!” Billy Ray quipped.

When pressed by Hoda on whether that incident was “weird,” Billy Ray replied he wasn’t on the set when the “sheet-wrapping” with Leibovitz occurred. Then he quickly turned the conversation back to the Obamas: “That’s a beautiful family,” he enthused. “We’ve got a great president. Look at the family! That’s the all-American family.”

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