Photographing Obama, insights from White House photographer Pete Souza

Jun 12, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Photographing Obama, insights from White House photographer Pete Souza

Jun 12, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Feb. 1, 2009 “During a Super Bowl watching party in the White House theatre, the President and First Lady join their guests in watching one of the TV commercials in 3D.” (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Having first photographed President Obama in 2005, White House photographer Pete Souza estimates that by the time Obama’s second term is up, he will have made over two million photographs of the President.

It’s difficult to imagine following and photographing the same person for eleven years.  In this video, from BBC’s Newsnight, Souza talks about covering every aspect of the President’s public and private life.

While a job like this is certainly an honour, regardless of your political leanings, I’m not sure it’s something I would want to do.

The highs seem like great times that many of us would love to have witnessed first hand.

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet 106-Year-Old Virginia McLaurin during a photo line in the Blue Room of the White House prior to a reception celebrating African American History Month, Feb. 18, 2016.
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President Barack Obama with First Lady Michelle Obama meets Prince George as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge watch at Kensington Palace in London, April 22, 2016.
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Comedian Jerry Seinfeld knocks on the Oval Office window to begin a segment for his series, ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.’

But the lows can be the kind of thing that changes a person for life, even when you’re only documenting it.

President Barack Obama pauses during a meeting to observe a moment of silence in the Oval Office at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 21, 2012, in remembrance of the 20 children and six adults killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14.
President Barack Obama pauses during a meeting to observe a moment of silence in the Oval Office at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 21, 2012, in remembrance of the 20 children and six adults killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet the Green family after the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25, 2011. John and Roxanna Green are the parents of eleven-year-old Dallas and the late Christina Taylor, the nine-year-old girl killed when a gunman opened fire on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson earlier in the month.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet the Green family after the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25, 2011. John and Roxanna Green are the parents of eleven-year-old Dallas and the late Christina Taylor, the nine-year-old girl killed when a gunman opened fire on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson earlier in the month.

Regardless, Souza’s insights and thoughts on this unique position as a photographer, following one of the most powerful men in the world, are very interesting.

The access that this position has afforded him has allowed him to produce some of the most iconic, and sometimes humorous, images of any American President.

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You can find out more about Pete Souza on his website, and see more White House photography on the official Flickr feed.  Images via Flickr, © US Govt.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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5 responses to “Photographing Obama, insights from White House photographer Pete Souza”

  1. David Lok Avatar
    David Lok

    What an amazing job :-)

  2. Chris Hutcheson Avatar
    Chris Hutcheson

    Wonder how difficult it will be for him to adapt when the gig ends…

  3. ext237 Avatar
    ext237

    Wasn’t there a documentary about this guy a couple of years ago? Anyone remember the name. It was well done, wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

  4. Allen Stimmel Avatar
    Allen Stimmel

    I would consider that job ‘cruel and unusual punishment’

  5. Todd Buchanan Avatar
    Todd Buchanan

    Well, lets see, he had the “gig” covering Ronald Reagan as the White House photographer years ago so when this “gig” ends, he will going on being a great photojournalist covering some other world changing leaders and events…he is a wonderful person and a great photojournalist! It’s not just some “gig” for him…this is documenting history and he is one of the best at it…