Monday, April 27, 2009

Obama's Intimate Moments, by Pete Souza

One of my earliest photojournalism students was Pete Souza, who is now President Obama's official White House photographer, giving him extraordinary access to the president's most intimate and private moments. In a recent interview with CNN's John King, focusing on Obama's first 100 days in office, we got to see and hear about some of those behind-the-scenes shots.

Souza, who is on leave of absence from his normal post as an assistant professor of photojournalism at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication, had previously served as President Reagan's official photographer, and on the staff of the Chicago Tribune.

"I look at my job as a visual historian," Souza says of his current position. "The most important thing is to create a good visual archive for history, so 50 or a hundred years from now, people can go back and look at all these pictures."

When asked to choose one picture as his favorite, Souza selected one of the president and first lady softly butting heads in a freight elevator, surrounded by staffers who appear to be avoiding eye contact with the couple. Michelle Obama is smiling playfully wearing her husband's jacket.

"I chose this one because it's a genuine moment. It was chilly in the elevator. He took his coat off, put it around his wife's shoulders and then there is this private moment going on between the two of them," he said. "It's just a complete storytelling picture."

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