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White House Photographer Pete Souza Reveals What’s in His Bag

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24-70

The folks over at Popular Science have published a fun look inside White House photographer Pete Souza’s gear bag, but it seems the iconic photographer of president Obama’s most candid moments left a lens or two out when he spoke to the magazine.

Always keen to do some due diligence, after reading the PopSci piece, we started scrolling through the White House Flickr account. We dug through hundreds of photos uploaded since January of 2015 to see if the reported gear list and the EXIF data matched, and for the most part, it did.

Souza does indeed use the 24-70mm f/2.8L II as his workhorse—the vast majority of his pictures are taken with that lens. He also (despite a very short dalliance with the Sony a7R Mark II) does indeed shoot just about all of his official White House photographs with one of the two 5D Mark IIIs PopSci reports are in his gear bag. Finally, we were able to find both the 135mm f/2L and 35mm f/1.4L mentioned.

One of Souza's most famous pictures from 2015, captured with a 70-200mm f/2.8L II lens attached to one of his Canon 5D Mark IIIs.
One of Souza’s most famous pictures from 2015, captured with a 70-200mm f/2.8L II lens attached to one of his Canon 5D Mark IIIs.

But one other lens not mentioned by PopSci came up pretty often as well. Used as much if not more often than his 135mm f/2L and 35mm f/1.4L is a 70-200mm f/2.8L II Souza breaks out for longer-range shots. A 50mm f/1.2L also comes up a couple of times, but like the Sony, it doesn’t seem Souza was terribly pleased with it because he didn’t crack it out again after September of 2015.

Other lenses we spotted included a 24mm f/1.4L II and an 85mm f/1.2L, but these were only used once or twice, so we wouldn’t consider them part of Souza’s “kit.” Oh, and like many of us, he also occasionally uses an iPhone.

To see all the gear used by Souza (in and outside the White House), check out the PopSci piece and then head over to the White House Flickr account. And if you haven’t already, definitely watch this fascinating interview with Souza about the nearly 2 million photos he’s captured of President Obama over the past 8 years.


Image credits: Cool Combo by stratman² and Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

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