Photog Gets Glimpse Into Obama Vacation

The President-elect's security barrier wasn't enough to stop a telephoto lens.

ByABC News
December 23, 2008, 9:38 AM

Dec. 23, 2008— -- The pictures give a glimpse into President-elect Barack Obama's private vacation with his family in Hawaii, but after the initial shock over his chiseled chest subsides, the question remains: How did a photographer get close enough to capture it?

The photo agency that took the pictures told ABC News the photographer got within 150 feet of the incoming president, apparently without any action by the U.S. Secret Service.

The beaches in Hawaii, including Kailua Beach where the Obamas are staying, are all public, meaning keeping his family vacation private is almost impossible.

The photos showed the Obamas at ease -- the president-elect strolling in swim trunks, his wife Michelle in her one-piece bathing suit, daughter Sasha enjoying the afternoon, a police officer scoping out the grounds.

But those private moments are now an Internet sensation.

"In our parlance, we would say he gave it up. That's the expression in the business. That he gave up the picture," said Frank Griffin, of Bauer Griffin LLC, the photo agency that snapped the pictures.

The photographer didn't hide what he was doing, snapping pictures from his perch on Kailua Beach. The Obama's security detail has laid out a seaweed barrier in the sand and has been turning onlookers away.

But from that close, it's hard to stop a telephoto lens.

"The lens was 2½ feet long. The Secret Service were well aware of him, they saw him," said Griffin.

The Secret Service has tried to keep the press at bay, banning reporters and cameras from the front entrance of the rented estate where the future first family is vacationing, but the beach side is wide open.

It's not just the professionals -- locals are also trying to get a glimpse of the soon-to-be commander in chief. The president-elect has acknowledged this kind of interest comes with the territory.

"You don't have a lot of privacy. That's one of the things that you have to sacrifice in order to run for president," Obama said in Chicago last month.