Before becoming the Chief White House photographer for U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009, photographer Pete Souza had already documented Obama’s arrival on the Senate floor in 2005 as well as his ascension to the Presidency. His earlier stint as the visual documenter of Obama has resulted in the best-selling book The Rise of Barack Obama, consisting of images of then Senator Obama taken from 2005 to 2008. Witnessing history through his camera lens, Souza has followed President Obama’s visits to 50 nations, including this week’s trip to Kenya. Commemorating this achievement, Souza has selected one photograph from each country Obama has visited to help tell the stories behind the visits. Based on the large number of photos, it is apparent that President Obama has had a busy travel schedule since he became the nation’s forty-fourth President. Souza writes on the Whitehouse blog.
Traveling abroad with the President is very different. Often times, I am at the mercy of the host country for access. Some countries are more accommodating to me than others. I am lucky to have counterpart official photographers in many countries who are extremely helpful to me in this regard. I of course try to return the help to them when they visit the White House with their head of state. We’re also rarely in any one country for more than a couple of days, which gives us only a partial glimpse of each place. And because of security, the sites we are able to visit are often limited too. All that said, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to visit the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, the Great Wall in China, Petra in Jordan, and the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar (Burma). (So I really shouldn’t complain too much.) I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned — we’ll be adding a photograph from Kenya and additionally, Ethiopia, following his visit next week.
I guess after seeing all these amazing look behind the scenes of Obama’s each official trips to foreign lands, we come into a conclusion that being a Chief White House Photographer comes with a bagful of travel opportunities. I remember when I visited Myanmar in 2013, a local tour guide told me travelers really started coming to their country after Obama’s visit, making me believe that President Obama is also a very effective travel influencer.
Pete Souza graduated from Boston University and earned his master’s degree in Journalism from Kansas State University. He started his career at the Hutchinson News and Chanute Tribune before becoming a photographer for the Chicago Sun-Times. He had his first stint as an official White House photographer during President Ronald Reagan’s second term. After that he spent another decade working for the Chicago Tribune as a photographer before crossing paths with a young Barrack Obama – when he was chosen by the New York Times to document Obama’s first year in the US Senate.