'Cutout versions of themselves': experts explain why Trump's family Christmas card looks weird

Pedro Marrero
Dec 20, 2018
01:16 A.M.

On December 18, the US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania released their official 2018 Christmas card, but one technical detail sparked the usual online debate between their fans and their detractors.


Christmas is almost here and as the big day gets closer, government officials and agencies use their social media to share their holiday spirit and leave politics aside for a moment. What can go wrong when sharing a Christmas card?

But in the divisive political atmosphere currently covering the US, everything can be used to attack such visible personalities as the president and his wife are, and critics have already found something to talk about in the Trump’s portrait.

Social media users commented on the photo suggesting that the two figures standing in the middle of a heavily decorated Cross Hall at the White House look unnatural, as if they were photoshopped over an empty background.

Read more on our Twitter account @amomama_usa


“Merry Christmas from President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. @POTUS & @FLOTUS are seen Saturday, December 15, in their official 2018 Christmas portrait, in the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks).”

-Melania Trump, Twitter, December 18, 2018.

While the tweet was liked by thousands and retweeted over 27.000 times, apart from receiving many supportive comments from users, others have pointed out to the flat and out-of-place Mr. and Mrs. Trump look in the picture.


As Vogue put it, the presidential couple looks “almost like cardboard cutout versions of themselves,” but as there wouldn’t be any reason for them to do such a thing, the media has turned to experts to ask them why does the picture look like that.

On November 26, Melania Trump was excited to share this year’s Christmas decorations at the White House, only to see them mocked and ridiculed by many social media users.


The fashion magazine’s Visual Director Emily Rosser cites the different lighting used for the background and for the figures as the most probable cause for the curious aspect that the husband and wife present.

“It’s how they’re lit versus the lighting in the space. It makes them look like cutouts,” Rosser said.


Vogue.com’s Senior Designer Durrant Santeng said that too much depth of field flattened the figures, and this could have been avoided by using an out-of-focus background to make the couple stand out.

“The President and First Lady are competing with their decorations,” Santeng explained.

Photographer Daniel Arnold is not so sure that the image wasn’t in fact edited, superimposing the portraits over the Christmas setting.


“They blurred the whole thing to create a false uniformity. If I were editing and I were ever to do a bad job and it looked fake, I would blur the whole thing,” Arnold admitted.

On November 26, Melania Trump was excited to share this year’s Christmas decorations at the White House, only to see them mocked and ridiculed by many social media users.

The red trees aligned in a White House hallway were the most criticized piece of decoration in the display, and this might have something to do with them not being featured in the official Christmas card.

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