Friday, February 4, 2011

Obama's First Two Years: An Inside View


"The President has made several trips to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and several other hospitals," Souza writes, "where he visits wounded soldiers and personally awards Purple Heart medals. Although I do take photographs of him meeting these soldiers, we make these pictures only available to the soldiers themselves. Here, he's about to enter the room of a wounded soldier who received a Purple Heart."

"This job is all about access and trust," Souza says in the National Geographic book The President's Photographer, "and if you have both of those you're going to make interesting, historic pictures. And I think I have both of those. The kind of relationship I have with [Obama], how close I am to him, I don't think it is as important as those two."


"Visiting the Great Buddha of Kamakura, in Japan, the President had some green tea ice cream bar with his hosts. He had visited this Buddha as a young child and said he remembered sitting in the exact same place having an ice cream bar."


"After a day filled with meetings, the President headed to the White House basketball court to shoot a few baskets with his personal aide Reggie Love. Before heading back to the Oval, he flipped the ball towards the rim just where the afternoon light was falling."


"On the day of the health care reform vote, a Saturday, the President punched his fists in the air when he stopped in his chief of staff's office to monitor the staff's progress in lobbying members of Congress to vote for the bill."


This photograph was taken during the period the President was lobbying Congress for passage of his health care reform bill. On this night, Souza writes, "The President returned to the Oval Office after dinner, to continue pressing Congressmen to vote for the health care reform bill. In those final days before the vote, the President made hundreds of calls."


Souza says:
"We were walking through a locker room at the University of Texas when White House trip Director Marvin Nicholson stopped to weigh himself on a scale. Unbeknownst to him, the President was stepping on the back of the scale, as Marvin continued to slide the scale lever. Everyone but Marvin was in on the joke."


Souza made this shot as the President was leaving the State Floor after an event. Discovering his daughter Sasha in the elevator, ready to head upstairs to the private residence, "he decided to ride upstairs with her before returning to the Oval Office."


The First Lady greets a young visitor to the White House during a surprise visit to the Blue Room with the family dog, Bo. Souza is the chief of a small team of photographers hired by the White House to document the presidency. This frame was made by his colleague Samantha Appleton on the day of the first anniversary of the inauguration.

This shot was made when the President "arrived back at the Westchester County Airport in New York, headed back to Washington. Because of the configuration of the helicopter, everyone had to board before the President. So he waited for a few minutes in the motorcade, illuminated by the interior light, until everyone was situated."



This photo was taken less than two weeks after Obama's inauguration by Pete Souza, the Chief White House photographer. Souza was covering a meeting of the President with Vermont Governor Jim Douglas. Before the meeting, White House valets had moved the couches in the Oval Office to accommodate all the press who covered the event. "When the photo-op ended," Souza explains, "the President said to Gov. Douglas, 'let's move the sofas back in place.' Gov. Douglas didn't quite know what to do as the President did the heavy lifting. The valets now good-naturedly cringe when they look at this picture because it was their responsibility to move the sofas back in place."

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