For the past fifty years, there has been an official White House photographer to document the movements of the President of the United States. Pete Souza is currently “The President’s Photographer.” This is his second tour of duty since he also served as a photographer under President Reagan in the 80’s.
Morgan Freeman is the narrator of this exclusive documentary which reveals sections of the White House never before seen by citizens other than White House staff. Pete Souza works in the West Wing, just 100 steps from the President. His schedule is the President’s schedule. He is adept at fading into the background; few are aware that he is there. He never shares what he overhears. Pete is aided by three staff photographers, one a woman who documents Mrs. Obama’s activities. They are bent on providing the very best photographic archive of the Obama presidency for future historians.
Some very compelling shots are seen inside Air Force One which few have ever seen before. Pete Souza flies wherever the President flies. He has a reserved seat on Air Force One for the 150 flights he has already taken. The Code name for Air Force One was Angel at the time that President George W. Bush was being evacuated from Washington on 9/11/2001.
Pete Souza takes 20,000 photos of President Obama’s activities each week. There are already one million photos which will become part of the National Archives. None of these photos can be deleted from the collection. The West Wing is decorated with jumbo versions of Pete’s photos which are changed on a regular basis. One, a photo of Barack Obama blocking Reggie Love’s basketball shot, has stayed longer due to a presidential proclamation. Reggie Love is a former college basketball star who is now an aide to President Obama.
Pete Souza is like a member of the family, says President Obama. He trusts him to take intimate pictures of his wife, his daughters, even the family dog Beau. Many of these pictures are included in the documentary, never before seen by outsiders. The President and First Lady often arrive at a destination through the most unglamorous entrances for security purposes. Pete is always there; he sometimes catches the President and Michelle in an embrace or a kiss at some of these unusual venues.
We witnessed some input from former White House photographers. Yoichi Okamoto was the very first official White House photographer, serving under Lyndon Johnson. Robert McNeely was President Bill Clinton’s photographer. David Valdez was President George H. W. Bush’s photographer. David Kennerly served under President Ford. President Richard Nixon was the only president who chose to restrict access to himself by his photographer, Ollie Atkins.
Pete Souza states that he loves his job of documenting history. In fact, he says he is the luckiest s.o.b. photographer in the world even though he has 13 hour days, each of which is a grind. He regrets not being able to keep up with old friends, but would not change what he has now.
It was a great privilege to view this documentary. The Obama administration is a unique chapter in the history of our country and will be remembered in a singular manner through the archived photographs of Pete Souza.
Documentary – The President’s Photographer (2010)