Pete Souza

Inside Media: Photographing Obama

May 02, 2009

Guest: Pete Souza

By Lesette R. Heath, special programs coordinator

Pete Souza is experiencing his "proudest professional moment" as chief White House photographer.

Since January, Souza has chronicled the presidency of Barack Obama by snapping pictures of the president’s serious meetings with world leaders and lighter moments with first lady Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia.

On any given day, he tries not to "screw up the picture or drop anything." Besides, he never knows which moment will result in that must-have photo.

Like the one of President Obama running in the hall with new dog Bo, whom the press has compared to another Democrat and his canine friend, Freckles.

"Somebody wrote a story comparing [my] photo to that famous picture of Bobby Kennedy running along the beach with his dog. Honestly, that was going through my mind as I was photographing it, because I know that picture. It’s an iconic picture," he said.

Souza met the president in 2005, when he was a photographer for The Chicago Tribune and the paper decided to do intensive coverage of Obama’s first year in the Senate. Souza said he got to know the junior senator very well. Even then, he sensed that Obama had the makings of a future president.

"It was the way people were responding to him. He was this intelligent, articulate man. He was cool under pressure. I hadn’t really seen that in a politician for a long, long time," said Souza, who once worked as a junior White House photographer for President Ronald Reagan.

Having taken so many photos of the president, Souza stopped short of saying which one was his favorite.

"It’s hard to say," he said. "There isn’t any one image that’s my favorite. I have 293 favorites on Flickr and taken together, they give you a good sense of who he is."

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