Reflections by President Obama’s Official Photographer

As President Obama’s four-year term in office comes to an end, TIME magazine caught up with his official photographer Pete Souza for thoughts on his career so far. It’s a pretty fascinating read:

Souza recalls one meeting that he missed because it had been rescheduled unbeknownst to him. “I was a little upset with the President’s secretary for not telling me that they had moved the meeting up, and [the President] heard us talking and he said, ‘What are you talking about? You were in that meeting.’ He’s so used to me being there that he thought that I had been in the meeting that I wasn’t even in. So I took that as a compliment.”

His access to Obama’s inner circle and day-to-day routine stems from the trust he built during their relationship prior to the presidency. “I’m there to seriously document his presidency. I’m not looking for cheap shots, and I think that’s the kind of relationship any White House photographer should have with the President they’re covering,” he says. “That they have a level of access and trust that will lead to important photographs for history.”

They also asked Souza to submit an edit of more than 100 photos that provides a nice overview of some of his best shots.

Pete Souza’s Portrait of a Presidency [TIME Lightbox]

Image credit: Photograph by Pete Souza/The White House

  • pete n pete

    There was a documentary about Mr. Souza a few years ago; I can’t recall if it’s “The American Experience” or “National Geographic”, but it was very interesting. The volume of images was incredible. In either case, the film is on Netflix, for anyone interested. I really enjoyed it.

  • Vlad Dusil

    Actually it’s called “The President’s Photographer”:

    I am sure it’ll piss you off if you’re a right-winger because it’ll make you feel like the docu is slanted left. If you are able to disconnect your political convictions however, you’ll get to watch an intimate insight into what it’s like to have one of the most exciting reportage photographer positions one can hold.

  • Matt

    Some powerful photos and some human ones. Great job. Thanks for sharing.

  • pete n pete

    Thanks. That’s it! I wasn’t sure if “The American Experience” or NatGeo produced it, but that’s definitely the title.

  • Eric DiFebbo

    I read most of the comments on the Time’s page for this article and it is pretty ridiculous that people comment the way they do… this article is about the photographer and NOT about the president. Time did the article about Pete, the guy who no one knows about. Not whether he is left or right. Instead of celebrating this guys countless hours of work, people are focused on negativity. I hand it to Pete… The guy probably works 15 hours a day – EVERYDAY and yet he cannot sit still for a minute. He may only be pressing a shutter button but I’ve seen the documentary on him, and even in person. The dude is moving! Not only that… but after shooting probably close to 10,000 pics or more a day for 4 YEARS… It tells you the focus and dedication he has in continuing his career. Hats off to you Pete!

  • jhmatthews

    I had Pete Souza as a photojournalism instructor leading right up to him becoming Obama’s photographer. He was shooting for the Chicago Tribune at the time, based here in DC while Obama was still in Congress. He missed class one week to be at the speech in New Hampshire where Obama declared his campaign to run for President. He’d come to class with cards full of photos taken that day on the hill. Was pretty cool to see pics before they even made it to the papers and magazines.