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Behind-the-Scenes Look: Time-Lapse Of The White House Christmas Tree

Official White House Photographer Lawrence Jackson presents a behind-the-scenes time-lapse of the official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room of the White House, showing the work and energy that goes into decorating the White House for the holidays.


My boss, Chief White House Photographer Pete Souza, and I talked about how we could show all of the work and energy that’s put into decorating the White House for the holidays. A time-lapse seemed like a good way to present the progression, change and finished product. We decided on the official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room of the White House. Delivered by horse-drawn carriage, the Douglas fir stands more than ten feet high and is nearly thirteen feet wide – it’s truly the centerpiece of all the decorations. In four and a half days of shooting, the time-lapse camera took a total of 6,078 images.

I set my digital camera and 16-35 mm lens on a tripod with two weights on it to keep it from moving too much. In the first two days, the camera was set to fire two times per minute and was bumped up to three frames per minute during the last two and half days. Our White House Photo Office intern Spencer Millsap put it all together with video editing software, making it a fun and fast-paced multimedia piece.

There’s also funny moment with the White House electricians. Since they handle all things electrical – they installed the lights on the Christmas Tree before any of the other decorations were placed on the tree. So, I’ve got pictures of the guys installing the lights and when they’re done they gather around the tree for a group shot. You see these guys in a flurry getting the tree ready, in one frame they’re posing with big smiles on their faces, and in the very next frame they’re gone!