Time's deputy photo editor, Paul Moakley, gives us the backstory:
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.
Eager to get away from his stiff millionaire reputation, Romney has been playing up love for his wife at campaign events. In one campaign-made video, "The Love Story Continues" Ann describes their origins as a young couple in Utah, separated by Mitt's commitments to his Mormon mission in France.
Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski tweeted out his own (dare we say, harsh?) version of the photo to his followers:
If you're interested in creating your own "sand-written" Romney message, Buzzfeed makes it easy with a handy DIY meme-maker.
Here are a few of their reader contributions: