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
Shepard Fairey avoided jail time after all. The Obama HOPE poster artist was sentenced today to two years of probation and a $25,000 fine for using an AP photo without permission and then destroying evidence to cover his tracks. The New York Times writes that the entire dispute will be an interesting case study for fair use law:
When the case began in 2009, Mr. Fairey argued that his use of Associated Press imagery constituted fair use under copyright law. But the civil lawsuit was settled before that question was decided, and the two sides agreed to financial terms that were not disclosed. The parties also agreed to share the rights to make posters and merchandise bearing the “Hope” image. Mr. Fairey maintained that he had never personally profited from sales of the image, a contention The A.P. disputed.
[...] Until the settlement between Mr. Fairey and The Associated Press, the case was watched closely as one that might define more clearly the murky issues surrounding the fair-use exceptions to copyright protections. One of the central questions was whether Mr. Fairey’s creation, which became ubiquitous on street corners and T-shirts during and after Mr. Obama’s campaign, constituted a “transformative” use of the photograph, a use that is allowed under the law so that creative expression is not stifled.
In his official statement on the matter, AP CEO Gary Pruitt states, “We hope this case will serve as a clear reminder to all of the importance of fair compensation for those who gather and produce original news content.”
Image credit: Shepard Fairey at the ICA by WBUR
Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque recently got a call that summoned him for a top secret assignment: travel on an unannounced trip to Afghanistan with President Obama. After getting back, Lamarque wrote up an interesting behind-the-scenes blog post documenting his experience:
We are driven to the remote hangar where Air Force One sits out front, completely blacked out. We board the plane in darkness and inside the cabin, the shades are all down. We will not do the customary photo of Obama boarding the plane as we do on every other scheduled departure. Instead, at some point, we feel the plane begin to move and we know President Obama is on board and we are headed to Afghanistan.
[...] Communication, a photographers primary concern after making pictures, is patchy at Karzai’s presidential palace, our first stop. The ability to get pictures out to our clients quickly can produce stress in places such as Kabul. Though all four photographers on this trip (Reuters, AP, AFP, New York Times) carry various data card devices, we know they may prove useless. We also carry satellite phones, but we all know that there will never actually be time to set them up and use them. At the palace, we do get a faint and slow cellular data signal, and after checking that the embargo on Obama’s arrival has been lifted, we are all able to transmit the first pictures of Obama arriving in Afghanistan. The veil of secrecy is gone.
Into the night: Covert travel with President Obama [Reuters]
Image credits: Photograph by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Guess who joined in on the Instagram party? President Obama. While the White House Flickr Photostream publishes a steady stream of official images captured by Pete Souza, the new Instagram stream will be broadcasting casual behind-the-scenes glimpses at Obama’s reelection campaign — with vintage filters, of course. His username is @barackobama.
@barackobama (via TechCrunch via Photojojo)
The White House announced last month that it would be ending the long-running practice of reenacting Presidential speeches for photographs, but stated that they were still working out how the new system would work. Last week it reached an agreement with the White House Correspondents’ Association — rather than reenacting photos for a larger group of photographers, a single photojournalist will be given permission to shoot future speeches as they happen:
[...] news photographers will now be permitted to designate a single representative to act as a “pool” for the entire press corps. The photos taken by the pool representative will be made available to all news organizations. Reporters use a similar pool system for presidential events in which space is limited. [#]
“Hey, no pressure, but the world’s media is depending on your photos!”
(via The Washington Post)
Flickr user Alex Eylar created this humorous recreation of Pete Souza’s now-iconic photo of Obama in the Situation Room during the Osama bin Laden raid.
Pete Souza’s iconic photo of Obama and his national security team in the Situation Room has become extremely well known in the span of a week, so it’s unlikely that any reputable media outlet would dare alter the photo in any way — but that’s exactly what one newspaper did. Orthodox Hasidic newspaper Der Tzitung has a policy of never publishing photographs of women, and decided to publish Obama’s situation room photograph with Hillary Clinton and counterterrorism director Audrey Tomason Photoshopped out of the frame.
President Obama announced last week that photographs of Osama bin Laden’s body would not be released to the public due to concerns that it would incite violence and hatred, but a number of news agencies and advocacy groups are attempting to have them released using a Freedom of Information Act request. The Associated Press is one of the agencies that filed a FOIA request (they’re also requesting that video of the raid be released), and the US government has 20 days to respond.
The big story around the world this week was the death of Osama bin Laden after a raid of his compound by US Navy SEALs. As a terrific example of how the Internet is transforming the way we view these world events, behind the scenes photos taken at the White House as these events transpired were almost immediately shared on the White House Flickr photostream. One particular photograph (shown above) showing President Obama and his national security team in the Situation Room has been widely published, and may go on to become one of the iconic photographs of Obama’s presidency. It has amassed over two million views in just a couple days, and is reportedly the fastest viewed photo ever on Flickr.
P050111PS-0210 (via TechCrunch)
Now here’s a photograph you don’t get to shoot everyday: the White House Flickr stream published a photograph of the most powerful man in the world having dinner with the most powerful people in Silicon Valley. In terms of photography-related technologies, what you see is Picasa on the left, iPhone and Facebook Photos on either side of the President, and Flickr in red on the far end.
Being present at meetings like this is yet another reason why it must be awesome to be Pete Souza, President Obama’s photographer.
Image credit: P021711PS-0705 by The White House