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News & Insight

Photographing the President: The Work of Official White House Photographer Pete Souza

By Hanssie on March 30th 2016

Being a photographer, you’ve probably heard of Pete Souza; and if you haven’t, you’ve definitely seen his work. Pete Souza is the Chief Official White House Photographer, who has access to the Commander-in-Chief almost 24/7 and gives the world an intimate look of life as President of the United States. Because of the abundance of social sharing sites like Flickr, Instagram and Twitter, Souza’s work has been seen more than any other White House photographer in history.

Aside from documenting Obama’s presidency for the history books, Souza’s images shape how the world sees the 44th president, as a leader, and a family man. Souza was also the White House photographer in the 80’s during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

So, what is it like to stand on the sidelines next to one of the world’s most powerful leaders, to have him call you a friend and to know that with each snap of the shutter, you are documenting a historical moment that will be seen by millions now and for years to come?



The following video by the society of geeks, gives us a look at life in the White House through the lens of Pete Souza. From tense moments in the situation room to sweet moments with the First Lady, Pete’s job is to tell the story of a piece of America using composition, light, and all the other tools we learn as photographers. Souza has a knack for stepping back and showing the story behind the story. In one example, you see images of the President signing what looks to be very important documents at his desk, but that isn’t what Souza sees, the video explains. Souza’s image takes a step back and shows the half dozen photographers taking that image.

President Obama, says of Souza,

“When you have somebody like Pete Souza who you trust, who’s a friend, and who is purposefully able to fade into the background, so that at a certain point, you don’t notice he’s there, then it makes it a little easier.”

Souza will be out of a job (so to speak) come November, but his work will live on in the annals of our history books for generations to come. See more of Pete Souza’s images on the Official White House Flickr account here and on his personal Instagram page here.

Watch the video below (with the rather unfortunate title of “How to Shoot the President.”)

[Via Reddit]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Geert Peeters

    The man knows his job and the importance of photographs for the future

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  2. Jim Johnson

    To summarize: #1 job of a photographer: tell the story.

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  3. Jon Smallwood

    Thinking outside the box, that’s what it’s all about!

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  4. Ralph Hightower

    I think that Souza has a job at least until mid January 2017 when the new guy, or gal, takes over.

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