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.
Official presidential photographers lead exciting lives. President Obama’s photographer Pete Souza attends secret meetings and captures iconic photos. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s personal photographer was arrested last year after being accused of being a spy for Russia. Now Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s photographer is the latest to do something noteworthy: he defected to the United States. Read more…
Here’s your interesting piece of photo trivia ‘o the day: John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States, was the first president to have his photograph taken (the earliest photo still in existence, at least). The daguerreotype was shot in 1843, a good number of years after Adams left office in 1829. Read more…
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.
Olympus fired CEO and President Michael Woodford today, causing the company’s stock price to take a 17% dive. The 51-year-old Briton was accused by the board of ignoring the management culture that the firm has had in place for 92 years. Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa (who replaces Woodford) says,
We hoped that he could do things that would be difficult for a Japanese executive to do, but he was not able to understand that we needed to reflect the management style we have built up since the company was established 92 years ago, as well as Japanese culture.
The “difficult things” included ambitious cost-cutting plans, which proved to be successful in the company’s European division. Woodford had a habit of ignoring the management structure of the company by giving direct orders to employees rather than the leadership of the different units. While Olympus is known in the consumer electronics industry for its digital cameras, it’s medical equipment that keeps the company afloat — the Olympus camera division lost 15 billion yen (~$195 million) in the year to March 2011.
Dimitri Medvedev, the president of Russia, is a big photography enthusiast and a fan of Leica cameras, though from the video above — in which Medvedev uses a $20,000+ Leica S2 medium format DSLR — it seems someone needs to give him a few pointers on holding and using the camera.
Earlier this year we shared a video in which Medvedev talks in-depth about his involvement in photography. You can find some of Medvedev’s work here.
Last Thursday, three Georgian photographers including Irakli Gedenidze, the personal photographer of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, were arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia by taking photos of secret documents. On Saturday, Georgian TV aired a clip of Gedenidze confessing to selling the information to someone he thought was a Russian agent, but claimed to be the victim of blackmail. The Moscow Times suggests that this may simply be an attempt by Georgia to “chill the media”.
The personal photographers of world leaders are sometimes given an extraordinary amount of access — President Obama’s photographer Pete Souza attends and photographs Obama’s meetings, and was present in the Situation Room while the Osama bin Laden raid was unfolding, allowing him to capture his now-iconic photograph.
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!”
The White House is ending its long-running practice of reenacting speeches for still photographs after the controversy was rekindled last week by President Obama’s Osama bin Laden speech.
After Obama’s live, late-evening address from the East Room of the White House on May 1, five photographers were ushered in to shoot pictures as the president stood at the podium and re-read a few lines of his speech – a practice that news organizations have protested for years.
Even though The Associated Press and other news outlets said in captions to the photos that they were taken after the president delivered his address, many people who saw them may have assumed they depicted the speech itself. That raised questions of whether news organizations were staging an event. [#]
Today a spokesperson for the President stated, “We have concluded that this arrangement is a bad idea,” and that the administration is working on a new method for photojournalists to make photographs of actual speeches.
Did you know that Russian President Dimitri Medvedev is an avid photo enthusiast? In this video he shares some thoughts on photography, and talks about his own involvement in the art. If you’re wondering what he shoots with, the answer is a Leica M9, as well as Canon and Nikon cameras.