Home Arts and Life Obama’s photographer: ‘I’m also trying to show what he’s like as a person’

Obama’s photographer: ‘I’m also trying to show what he’s like as a person’

Obama’s photographer: ‘I’m also trying to show what he’s like as a person’
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By Emily Bowers

Pete Souza, the former chief official White House photographer, is more than just the man behind the camera; He’s got quite the sense of humor, too.

“I had the advantage of a subject who you could recognize from behind, because of his ears,” he joked as he showed a photo of former President Barack Obama’s silhouette.

Souza was the keynote speaker on Saturday at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, a conference that is represented by photojournalists from newspapers, magazines and wire services.

As he spoke, he cracked jokes and took digs at President Donald Trump. Souza also shared the back-stories behind some of the photographs in his new book, “Obama: An Intimate Portrait,” which was released Nov. 7.

Souza spent eight years photographing Obama, documenting every moment of history, capturing 1.9 million photos. In addition to his documentary coverage at the White House, Souza traveled with the president aboard Air Force One to all 50 states and more than 50 countries.

The photographs and stories that Souza shared at the conference ranged from inside the White House Situation Room during the Osama bin Laden raid and the moment in the Oval Office when Obama found out about the Sandy Hook shooting.

“I’m photographing him as president for history, but I’m also trying to show what he’s like as a person,” he said.

Souza also shared the stories of  Obama getting “zapped” by a tiny Spider-Man and coaching his daughter Sasha’s basketball team. Souza joked that Obama took the coaching responsibility as seriously as if it were “the seventh game of the NBA finals.”

When showing a photo of former vice president Joe Biden and Obama, he joked that Biden was some “bro” Obama had randomly run into.    

After his speech, Souza was met with a round of applause so long that he had to motion to the crowd to settle down. His final slide was not a photo but a quote from Obama himself.

“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress,” he said.  


Pictured Above: Pete Souza giving the keynote speech on Saturday at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar. He shared some of the back stories behind some of his most iconic photos of Obama’s presidency. Emily Bowers | The Crow’s Nest

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