Friday, Jan. 12, 2018|2 a.m.
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One’s mission in life typically depends upon a crossway– at the corner of function and chance.
Pete Souza, former chief official White Home photographer throughout President Barack Obama’s administration, put that corner approach on full display screen recently at the Newseum in Washington. Souza was on hand to discuss his inspirational, new book, “Obama: An Intimate Picture.”
A 90-minute photo slide show and all, prior to a sold-out audience. His engaging presentation was more than simply an image program. It also had to do with humanity and relationships– aspects to which all of us can relate.
By now, most of us have checked out or seen on tv news the numerous media listings in the Leading Stories of 2017 genre. In the leading social networks stories category, we have actually been advised of Obama’s poignant Twitter publishing in the consequences of the Charlottesville catastrophe.
Because Twitter post, Obama priced quote former South African president/activist Nelson Mandela: “Nobody is born hating another person due to the fact that of the color of his skin or his background or his religious beliefs.” The Tweet is accompanied by a photo of Obama, fit jacket slung over his shoulder, smiling and greeting a group of children of different races at a window of a day-care center in Maryland.
Enduring significance, for sure.
Souza caught that photo of Obama and the kids on June 9, 2011, however its message resounded worldwide throughout the rough very first year of Donald Trump in the White House. Inning accordance with Twitter, it was the second-most retweeted posting of 2017 and the most “liked” post in Twitter history.
Souza, on this day at the Newseum, informed us that picture was among his favorites. In his encyclopedia-like book chock-full of vibrant images, memories and reflections in 349 over-size pages, Souza gave the picture a page unto itself. No sharing.
Souza’s crossway with Obama began in January 2005. Obama was the young U.S. senator from Illinois; Souza was a Washington-based photographer for the Chicago Tribune. Tribune political author Jeff Zeleny (now with CNN) asked Souza to take images of the freshly chosen senator for a series of extensive story plans.
That’s when Souza began his musings about the future. “I believed to myself,” Souza recalled, “could I be observing the future president of the United States?”
Later, when Obama indeed began his presidential run in 2007, Souza existed. Nevertheless, that summer, he resigned from the Tribune to accept a position as a photojournalism teacher at Ohio University. Souza still found time to periodically picture the then-senator and even published a book on Obama.
After Obama won the 2008 election, Souza got a call from Robert Gibbs, Obama’s press secretary at the time. Souza stated he had one issue for Gibbs: “I remember informing him that in order to do the job, I had to have access. Access to whatever. All the crucial stuff, the minutes when choices are made. Even if it was categorized.”
Souza associated that Gibbs reacted, “Obviously, the president-elect gets it.”
Done deal. That’s when Souza took a younger guy’s gig at age 54.
Speaking of “all the essential stuff,” most Americans keep in mind May 1, 2011. That was the day of “Geronimo”– the United States armed force’s code name for Osama bin Laden. Turn to Page 130 in the book; you will see that renowned picture of Obama and his personnel watching in real time the Navy SEALs’ raid that eliminated the international terrorist in Pakistan. The White Home staff occupied a cramped conference room near the Scenario Room.
Gen. Marshall “Brad” Webb beinged in a high-back, dark-leather chair at the head of a table. He was operating a notebook computer that offered a communications linkup with the bin Laden mission.
A back-story of humbleness: Souza told us that when Obama got in the room, Gen. Webb intuitively rose up from his chair, thinking, of course, in deference to the president that Obama wanted the head chair. However, Obama informed the basic to stay in the head chair, as the president moved to a regular chair.
Would Donald Trump ask a general not to get up upon Trump’s entrance?
Souza’s disdain for Trump was apparent throughout his presentation, though he never pointed out Trump by name. At the beginning of his slide show, Souza blurted, “This is not phony news.” The Newseum audience roared with laughter and applause.
Souza, grandson of Azorean Portuguese immigrants to the United States, offered us with a huge number: He clicked 1.9 million pictures throughout Obama’s eight-year tenure.
From all corners of the world– from a roof restaurant in Moscow to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem to a fist-bump with a janitor in Washington to a discrete chat with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Normandy, France, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Souza’s slide program caused Newseum audience members to audibly ooh and ahh sometimes, groan in others.
Souza wistfully mentioned how he and Obama ended up being close friends through their world travels. As Obama composed in his foreword for Souza, “I probably invested more time with Pete Souza than with any person other than my family … “
Time at the intersection of photographer and president.
Gregory Clay is a Washington writer and a former editor for McClatchy-Tribune News Service. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.