President Barack Obama attends a dress rehearsal of the Moscow Ballet's “Great Russian Nutcracker,” in which his daughter, Sasha, portrays a mouse, at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland, Dec. 16, 2012. During breaks in the rehearsal, the President works on the remarks he is scheduled to give later that day at a vigil for the shooting victims in Newtown, Conn. “The President works on his Newtown speech. Two days earlier, I photographed him when John Brennan first briefed him on the shootings. Throughout that day, he reacted as we all did, which people witnessed when he delivered his statement a few hours later. Before we headed to Newtown for the Sunday night vigil, he went to watch his daughter Sasha, 11, rehearse for her ballet performance in the Nutcracker. He was going to miss her performance that night because of the trip to Newtown. During breaks in the rehearsal, he worked on the speech. His expression in this photograph may be subtle to the viewer, but not to me. There is emotion and resolve etched on his face, and I know this was perhaps the toughest day of his Presidency.”
President Barack Obama attends a dress rehearsal of the Moscow Ballet's “Great Russian Nutcracker,” in which his daughter, Sasha, portrays a mouse, at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland, Dec. 16, 2012. During breaks in the rehearsal, the President works on the remarks he is scheduled to give later that day at a vigil for the shooting victims in Newtown, Conn. “The President works on his Newtown speech. Two days earlier, I photographed him when John Brennan first briefed him on the shootings. Throughout that day, he reacted as we all did, which people witnessed when he delivered his statement a few hours later. Before we headed to Newtown for the Sunday night vigil, he went to watch his daughter Sasha, 11, rehearse for her ballet performance in the Nutcracker. He was going to miss her performance that night because of the trip to Newtown. During breaks in the rehearsal, he worked on the speech. His expression in this photograph may be subtle to the viewer, but not to me. There is emotion and resolve etched on his face, and I know this was perhaps the toughest day of his Presidency.”Pete Souza—The White House
President Barack Obama attends a dress rehearsal of the Moscow Ballet's “Great Russian Nutcracker,” in which his daughter, Sasha, portrays a mouse, at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland, Dec. 16, 2012. During breaks in the rehearsal, the President works on the remarks he is scheduled to give later that day at a vigil for the shooting victims in Newtown, Conn. “The President works on his Newtown speech. Two days earlier, I photographed him when John Brennan first briefed him on the shootings. Throughout that day, he reacted as we all did, which people witnessed when he delivered his statement a few hours later. Before we headed to Newtown for the Sunday night vigil, he went to watch his daughter Sasha, 11, rehearse for her ballet performance in the Nutcracker. He was going to miss her performance that night because of the trip to Newtown. During breaks in the rehearsal, he worked on the speech. His expression in this photograph may be subtle to the viewer, but not to me. There is emotion and resolve etched on his face, and I know this was perhaps the toughest day of his Presidency.”
“There is closure in this photograph. I suspect that neither man really wanted to have lunch with the other, but they both knew the importance for the American people in seeing them do so.”
Police hold back the crowd as tens of thousands of residents line the streets of the motorcade route to wave and welcome President Barack Obama in Rangoon, Burma, Nov. 19, 2012. President Obama is the first sitting U.S. President to visit the country.
"To some, this is a snapshot and doesn't belong in this gallery of candid photographs. But to me, it evokes what the trip to Burma was all about. Here is the President of the United States, shoes and socks off in respect, posing as a tourist in front of the oldest pagoda in the world in a country that no U.S. President had ever been able to visit.Ó
President Barack Obama has a foreign leader phone call with President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt about about the rocket attacks being launched from Gaza into Israel, and the escalating violence in Gaza, in the Oval Office, Nov. 14, 2012. Chief of Staff Jack Lew, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough attend.
President Barack Obama reviews his election speech with Jon Favreau, Director of Speechwriting, and David Axelrod in the Presidential Suite at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park in Chicago, Ill., Nov. 6, 2012.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama embrace after watching CNN project the outcome of the election, at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park in Chicago, Ill., Nov. 6, 2012.
President Barack Obama talks with Donna Vanzant, owner of the North Point Marina in Brigantine, New Jersey, Oct. 31, 2012. The President was surveying damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
President Barack Obama pretends to be caught in Spider-Man's web as he greets the son of a White House staffer in the Outer Oval Office, Oct. 26, 2012.
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attend the dignified transfer at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Sept. 14, 2012, of J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya; Sean Smith, Information Management Officer; and Security Personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, who were killed in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
President Obama, followed by Chaplain Colonel J. Wesley Smith and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, walk towards the podium during the transfer of remains ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Sept. 14, 2012, marking the return to the United States of the remains of the four Americans killed this week in Benghazi, Libya.
President Obama and Vice President Biden share a laugh before an event at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, N.H., Sept. 7, 2012.
President Obama greets daughters Sasha and Malia at the Time Warner Cable Arena before delivering remarks at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 6, 2012.
First Lady Michelle Obama greets former White House staffer Franny Starkey and her daughter Willa prior to an event at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver in Denver, Colo., Aug. 11, 2012.
Eight-year old Make-A-Wish child Janiya Penny reacts after meeting President Barack Obama as he welcomes her family to the Oval Office, Aug. 8, 2012.
U.S. Olympic wrestler Elena Pirozhkova picks up the First Lady during a greet with Team USA Olympic athletes competing in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, at the U.S. Olympic Training Facility at the University of East London in London, England, July 27, 2012.
A view from behind of the President as he holds a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, July 26, 2012.
President Obama hugs Stephanie Davies while visiting shooting victim Allie Young at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colo., July 22, 2012. Davies helped keep Young alive after her friend was wounded at the movie theater in Aurora. The President traveled to Colorado to visit with patients and family members affected by the shootings.
President Obama shares a piece of strawberry pie with a young patron at Kozy Corners, a local diner in Oak Harbor, Ohio, July 5, 2012.
"This was the day that the U.S. Supreme Court was to rule on the Affordable Health Care Act, June 28, 2012. Before the President came down from the residence that morning, the split-screen television in the Outer Oval was flashing bulletins that the Court had overturned the act. Kathy Ruemmler, counsel to the President, came rushing in and told me and the President's secretary just the opposite. Kathy then left and a few minutes later, the President came to the Oval, saw the same bulletins on the TV; but Kathy soon reappeared to tell the President that the Court had indeed upheld the Act, and that the TV reporters were wrong. He then gave her a big hug, as Chief of Staff Jack Lew watched at left. "
The President and First Lady look out at the city skyline and Lake Michigan after arriving at the Burnham Park landing zone in Chicago, Ill., June 15, 2012.
Luz Graham-Urquilla, 4, watches President Obama as he signs her drawing at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, May 25, 2012.
President Obama meets with European leaders on the Laurel Cabin patio during the G8 Summit at Camp David, Md., May 19, 2012.
"This was one of the most poignant moments of the President's first term. He was visiting wounded warriors in the intensive care unit ICU at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. He had just presented a Purple Heart to Sgt. Chase Haag, who had been injured by an IED just hours before. Sgt. Haag was covered with a blanket and it was difficult to see how badly he was injured. He was also seemingly unconscious so the President whispered in his ear so not to wake him. Just then, there was a rustling under the blanket and Sgt. Haag, eyes still closed, reached his hand out to shake hands with the President."
President Obama greets U.S. troops following his remarks during an unannounced trip to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. The President made three trips around the ropeline to try and shake every hand.
President Obama sits on the famed Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum following an event in Dearborn, Mich., April 18, 2012.
President Obama enters the White House at the South Portico following his arrival aboard Marine One on the South Lawn, March 30, 2012. The President returned from a trip to Vermont and Maine.
Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor, holds a binder with a note from his son as he and others brief President Obama in the Oval Office, March 29, 2012.
President Obama greets the daughter of national security staffer during a departure photo in the Oval Office, Feb. 1, 2012.
President Barack Obama greets then Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., as he arrives to deliver the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 24, 2012.
"The President and Bo, the Obama family dog, ride in the presidential motorcade en route to PetSmart in Alexandria, Va. The President bought Bo some Christmas gifts at the pet store then walked nearby to Best Buy to purchase gifts for his daughters, Dec. 21, 2011."
A splash of sunlight falls on the President's face as he makes a phone call in the Oval Office, Dec. 19, 2011.
The President and First Lady greet troops following remarks to mark the end of AmericaÕs war in Iraq, at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Dec. 14, 2011.
"After a meeting with Eurozone leaders adjacent to the G20 Summit in Cannes, France, the President gave encouragement to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as they departed the meeting, Nov. 3, 2011."
"Usually the best moments at meetings are before and after the participants actually sit down. In this case, though, there was an interesting juxtaposition of gestures as the President and Vice President met with the House Democratic Leadership in the Oval Office, Nov. 1, 2011."
The Obama family make an unannounced visit to tour the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C., Oct. 14, 2011, the night before the President made remarks at the official dedication of the memorial.
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"Chuck Kennedy captured this scene with a remote camera as the President and First Lady, along with former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, paused at the North Memorial Pool of the National September 11 Memorial in New York City. The North Memorial pool sits in the footprint of the north tower, formerly 1 World Trade Center."
Cabinet Secretaries Hillary Clinton, Tim Geithner and Leon Panetta applaud as President Obama is escorted into the House Chamber of the United States Capitol, prior to addressing a Joint Session of Congress on jobs and the economy, and to outline the details of the American Jobs Act, at the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011.
White House aides listen as President Obama makes a point during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Sept. 7, 2011.
"A former President once said, 'Presidents don't get vacations, they just get a change of scenery.' We were on 'vacation' in Martha's Vineyard and the President was monitoring Hurricane Irene with John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, at right in light blue shirt, on Aug. 26, 2011. They were waiting for a conference call on the hurricane with affected governors and mayors."
"David Lienemann captured this photograph as the Vice President draws his bow during the archery portion of a cultural demonstration, outside Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, with Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold looking on, Aug. 22, 2011. I told David when I first saw this photo that I would never have been brave enough to stand that close to the line of fire."
Dr. Jill Biden and Senator Bill Frist tour the Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, Aug. 8, 2011.
The Vice President and other staff watch and listen as the President talks on the phone in the Oval Office with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during the debt limit and deficit discussions, July 31, 2011.
"During a break in the debt limit and deficit negotiations with Congressional leaders, the President walks around the South Lawn drive of the White House with the Vice President on Sunday, July 24, 2011. As they walked, I was trying to catch them where there was one pocket of sunlight seeping through the trees."
House Speaker John Boehner departs a meeting in the Cabinet with the President and Congressional leaders to discuss the ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction, July 23, 2011.
"The reflection in this photo (since so many people ask me) was taken with my camera just above a small glass-topped table in the Oval Office as the President talked with members of his staff following a meeting with the Congressional leadership, July 7, 2011."
The First Lady visits with former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, at his residence in Houghton, South Africa, June 21, 2011.
President Obama talks with Vice President Biden on the Colonnade outside the Oval Office, June 20, 2011.
President Obama joins in a water gun fight with daughter Sasha during her 10th birthday celebration at Camp David, Md., June 11, 2011.
The President visits Joplin, Mo., on May 29, 2011, following a devastating tornado. Here he greets Hugh Hills, 85, in front of his home. Hills told the President he hid in a closet during the tornado, which destroyed the second floor and half the first floor of his house.
"I can still hear these Irish girls screaming, 'Barack! Barack! Michelle! Michelle!' It reminded me of the old black and white video footage of American girls screaming at the Beatles in concert. These girls were cheering as the President and First Lady took the stage at the College Green in Dublin, Ireland, May 23, 2011."
A few days after the mission against bin Laden, on May 5, 2011, the President traveled to New York City to meet with families of the 9/11 victims. He also visited at the Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 Firehouse. The firehouse, known as the "Pride of Midtown," lost 15 firefighters on 9/11 -- an entire shift and more than any other New York firehouse. Here, the firefighters offer an impromptu toast to the President in honor of their fallen comrades during a lunch at the station house."
President Barack Obama edits his remarks in the Outer Oval Office prior to making a televised statement detailing the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011. Vice President Biden, Press Secretary Jay Carney and are also pictured.
"Much has been made of this photograph that shows the President and Vice President and the national security team monitoring in real time the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011. Some more background on the photograph: The White House Situation Room is actually comprised of several different conference rooms. The majority of the time, the President convenes meetings in the large conference room with assigned seats. But to monitor this mission, the group moved into the much smaller conference room. The President chose to sit next to Brigadier General Marshall B. ÒBradÓ Webb, Assistant Commanding General of Joint Special Operations Command, who was point man for the communications taking place. With so few chairs, others just stood at the back of the room. I was jammed into a corner of the room with no room to move. During the mission itself, I made approximately 100 photographs, almost all from this cramped spot in the corner. Please note: a classified document seen in front of Sec. Clinton has been obscured."
"After the President and Congress finally agreed on a bill to keep the government from shutting down, the President decided to make an unannounced stop to thank tourists for visiting the Lincoln Memorial the following day, April 9, 2011. The Memorial and other monuments and national parks in Washington and across the country would have been forced to close had they not come to an agreement. Here, the President greets a surprised young girl as other tourists in the background snap pictures of their chance encounter with the President."
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner talk in the Oval Office following a late night meeting on the budget, April 6, 2011.
President Obama meets with his national security staff during a conference call on Libya in the Situation Room of the White House, Saturday, March 26, 2011.
"The Obama family was scheduled to tour the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, before dinner one night March 20, 2011. But when heavy fog rolled in, they decided to cancel the visit. After dinner though, the fog had dissipated somewhat so they decided to make the drive up the mountain after all. It was quite clear when they arrived and then the fog started to roll back in. I managed to capture this silhouette as they viewed the statute one last time just before departure."
President Obama fist bumps a young person reaching through the door at the Cidade de Deus (City of God) favela Community Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 20, 2011.
"The President gives the final authorization for the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians during a conference call in Brazil, March 19, 2011."
President Obama walks through the door of the Outer Oval Office at the start of the day, Feb. 24, 2011. This is his usual point of entry to the Oval Office each morning.
President Obama meets with former President George H. W. Bush in the Oval Office, Feb. 15, 2011.
President Obama reads documents while sitting at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, Feb. 11, 2011.
"The two coaches for Sasha Obama's basketball team couldn't make it to one of her games, so the President and his then personal aide, Reggie Love, filled in as coaches for this game on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011. Here they along with Sasha's teammates react during the game."
President Barack Obama talks on the phone with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in the Oval Office, Feb 1, 2011.
"The President and his national security team were gathered in the Situation Room to discuss the developing events in Egypt on Feb. 1, 2011. An aide rushed in to say that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was making a live televised statement, so the feed was patched in so everyone could watch Mubarak. In the midst of days of protests calling for his ouster, Mubarak in this statement said he would step down at the end of his term."
The President, the First Lady and President Hu Jintao of China descend the Grand Staircase of the White House before a formal State Dinner, Jan. 19, 2011.
"A terrible tragedy occurred on a Saturday in January when a gunman shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Tucson, Ariz. A few days later, on Jan. 12, 2011, the President spoke at a memorial service for the six victims who died and those wounded. Here he greets Mavy Stoddard, whose husband Dorwan died while protecting her during the shooting."
President Obama talks with Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican Whip, after a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leadership in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, Nov. 30, 2010.
Late at night in the Treaty Room office in the White House residence, Nov. 23, 2010, the President talks on the phone with President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea after North Korea had conducted an artillery attack against the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.
"Visiting the Great Buddha of Kamakura, in Japan, the President had a green tea ice cream bar with his hosts, Nov. 14, 2010. He had visited this Buddha as a young child and said he remembered sitting in the exact same place having an ice cream bar."
President Obama talks with Prime Minster of India Manmohan Singh during a the State Dinner at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, in New Dehli, India, Nov. 8, 2010.
The day after the mid-term election, the President waits in the Blue Room of the White House before facing the press at a news conference in the East Room, Nov. 3, 2010.
"After a day filled with meetings, the President headed to the White House basketball court to shoot a few baskets with his personal aide Reggie Love, Oct. 13, 2010. Before heading back to the Oval, he flipped the ball towards the rim just where the afternoon light was falling."
"We had arrived back at the Westchester County Airport in New York, headed back to Washington, Sept. 16, 2010. Because of the configuration of the helicopter, everyone had to board before the President. So he waited for a few minutes in the motorcade, illuminated by the interior light, until everyone was situated."
The President's feet, in foreground, with others staff following the bilateral meeting with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in the Oval Office, Sept. 1, 2010.
"We were walking through a locker room at the University of Texas on August 9, 2010, when White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson stopped to weigh himself on a scale. Unbeknownst to him, the President was stepping on the back of the scale, as Marvin continued to slide the scale lever. Everyone but Marvin was in on the joke."
President Obama shares a moment with his daughter Sasha during a barbecue in celebration of his 49th birthday on the South Lawn of the White House, Aug. 8, 2010.
President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev talk over lunch during an unannounced trip to Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., June 24, 2010.
"This was a difficult day for the President, shown here in the Oval Office on June 23, 2010, after he had made the decision to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus as the Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan."
"To call attention to the safety of the seafood in the Gulf Coast after the BP oil spill, the President ate some shrimp and crawfish with locals in Grand Isle, La., June 4, 2010. I noticed all the hands digging into the food and thought it made an interesting angle."
President Obama tries to block a layup shot by his former personal aide, Reggie Love, at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., May 16, 2010.
President Obama and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan walk along the South Lawn Drive of the White House, following their working lunch, May 12, 2010.
President Obama looks out the window aboard the Marine One helicopter before speaking at Hampton University commencement in Armstrong Stadium, Hampton, Va. May 9, 2010.
President Obama talks with his daughter Malia on the swing set outside the Oval Office, May 4, 2010.
President Obama listens during a briefing about the situation along the Gulf of Mexico coast following the BP oil spill, at the Coast Guard Venice Center, in Venice, La., Sunday, May 2, 2010. Pictured, from left, are Admiral Thad Allen, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral; John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel; and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Before a prayer breakfast at the White House, the President prays privately with clergy members in the Blue Room, April 6, 2010.
President Obama's signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010.
The President, Vice President and senior staff applaud after watching on television the House vote on H.R. 4872 for health care reform, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, March 21, 2010.
After dinner with his family on March 19, 2009, the President works the phone in the Oval Office to continue pressing Congressmen to vote for the health care reform bill.
President Obama makes health reform related calls in the Oval Office, March 19, 2010.
President Barack Obama engages with Rep. John Boehner, soon-to-be Speaker of the House, during a spirited bipartisan Congressional leadership meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Feb. 9, 2010.
President Barack Obama and his daughters, Sasha and Malia, play in the snowstorm at the White House, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010.
"This was the night, Jan. 20, 2010, after the special election in Massachusetts, when Republican Scott Brown had unexpectedly won the Senate seat belonging to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Brown's election deprived the Democrats of 60 votes in the Senate, putting in jeopardy the passage of healthcare reform, a sentiment that you can see on the faces of the President and his aides."
"President Obama had called on the two former Presidents to help with the situation in Haiti. During their public remarks in the Rose Garden, Jan. 16, 2010, President Clinton had said about President Bush, ÔIÕve already figured out how I can get him to do some things that he didnÕt sign on for.Õ Later, back in the Oval, President Bush is jokingly asking President Clinton what were those things he had in mind.Ó
“The President was playing golf with some high school friends at Luana Hills Country Club in Kailua, Hawaii, during his Christmas vacation, Dec. 28, 2009. One of the main reasons he likes to golf is because he feels like he’s out of the ‘bubble.’ In fact, of course, there are dozens of staff and Secret Service that accompany him. But I thought this photograph showed to a certain extent the openness of being out on the golf course.”
“Having seen more than 25 Bruce Springsteen concerts since 1978 and having seen just about every movie Robert DeNiro has ever made, it was a great thrill to be in their presence as the President greeted them before the Kennedy Center Honors at the White House, Dec. 6, 2009.”
Cadets listen as President Obama delivers his Afghanistan strategy speech at West Point, N.Y., Dec. 1, 2009.
ÒThe President and First Lady wait for Indian Prime Minister SinghÕs motorcade to depart the White House at the conclusion of the first official state dinner for the Obama administration, Nov. 24, 2009. The dinner was held in a tent on the South Lawn. The mist and fog made for an interesting scene, even obscuring the top of the Washington Monument in the background.Ó
“This photo was taken about 4AM, Oct. 29, 2009, after the President made an unannounced trip to Dover Air Force Base to pay respects to fallen troops coming back from Afghanistan. After meeting privately with the families, the President walked alone up the ramp of the cargo plane carrying the 18 caskets, all draped in American flags. I could see the emotion on his face as he walked from casket to casket, leaving a Presidential coin on each. When he was done, he paused for a few minutes, head bowed in prayer. I heard him tell others later how that was the most difficult moment of his Presidency thus far. Out of respect for the families, not all of who wanted their ceremony photographed, we can’t show those pictures (but they will become part of Presidential archive.)"
“The President works on his health care speech with his chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau, in the Oval Office, Sept. 9, 2009. I noticed his handwritten edits and made this close-up. It’s a simple picture but it tells volumes about how involved he is in writing and editing his speeches.”
President Obama greets Sonia Sotomayor prior to her Investiture as an Associate Justice at the U.S. Supreme Court, Sept. 8, 2009.
On vacation in MarthaÕs Vineyard, the President shared a moment with his young niece, Savita, Aug. 25, 2009.
ÒI was sitting in the reception area outside the Oval Office on Aug. 5, 2009, when Sasha walked by and headed to the Oval. I suspected something was up, so I followed her. Sasha then crawled into the office, hiding behind the sofa, and when she reached the far end, jumped up and yelled, trying spook her dad.Ó
President Obama has dinner with his family on the roof of a hotel restaurant in Moscow,  July 7, 2009.
Afternoon events .Official White House photo by Pete Souza.
“A National Security staffer, Carlton Philadelphia, brought his family to the Oval Office for a farewell photo with President Obama. Carlton’s son, Jacob, softly told the President he had just gotten a haircut like President Obama, and asked if he could feel the President’s head to see if it felt the same as his.”
The President throws a football to an aide before a meeting in the Oval Office, April 23, 2009.
Deputy chief of staff Mona Sutphen jokingly offers a piece of birthday cake to senior advisor David Axelrod as the President watches amusingly in the Oval Office, April 15, 2009. The party was held to commemorate senior advisor Pete Rouse's birthday.
“Aboard Air Force One, the President’s aides gathered in the conference room to make the final decision on whether to secretly head to Baghdad, April 7, 2009. There was what one aide later called “high drama” as Gen. James Jones, the national security advisor, left, and Secret Service agent-in-charge Joe Clancy talked on different phone lines to their representatives on the ground.”
President Barack Obama is greeted by a large crowd following his Prague speech in Hradcany Square, April 5, 2009.
First Lady Michelle Obama waits as the President signs the guestbook upon their arrival at Prague Castle in the Czech Republic, April 5, 2009.
On Sunday night, March 29, 2009, aides listen to a speaker phone as the President made calls to alert officials about his plan to set deadlines for General Motors and Chrysler overhauls that were to be announced the next day.
President Obama: Economic Meeting with advisors. Roosevelt Room.
“The Obama family was introduced to a prospective family dog at a secret greet on March 15, 2009. After spending about an hour with the dog, the family decided he was the one. Here, the dog ran alongside the President in an East Wing hallway. The dog returned to his trainer, while the Obamas embarked on their first international trip. I had to keep these photos secret until a few weeks later, when the dog was brought ‘home’ to the White House and introduced to the world as Bo.”
The President dances with his wife while singing along with the band Earth, Wind & Fire during the Governors Ball, his first formal function at the White House, on Feb. 22, 2009
Aboard Air Force One, a closeup of the President’s signature on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which he had just signed in Denver, on Feb. 17, 2009
President Obama meets with the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition in the State Dining Room, Feb. 10, 2009.
Basketball on South Grounds Super Bowl Party
President Obama reflects during an economic meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Jan. 29, 2009.
“We were on a freight elevator headed to one of the Inaugural balls on Jan. 20, 2009. It was quite chilly, so the President removed his tuxedo jacket and put it over the shoulders of his wife. Then they had a semi-private moment as staff members and Secret Service agents tried not to look.”
Malia Obama takes a picture of her father, President Obama, at the White House prior to his departure for the Inaugural Balls, Jan. 20, 2009.
President-elect Barack Obama walks to the podium for his Inauguration as the 44th President at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009.
President Barack Obama attends a dress rehearsal of the Moscow Ballet's “Great Russian Nutcracker,” in which his daughte
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Pete Souza—The White House
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Pete Souza's Portrait of a Presidency

Oct 08, 2012

The long view of history tends to be the judge of a presidency. As President Obama embarks on a second term in the Oval Office, it may still be too early to draw conclusions about his legacy as Commander in Chief. What we do know is that Obama’s first term has been a historic one: the first African American to hold the country’s highest office, Obama and his Administration have battled a recession, passed health care reform and legislation to end the military's "Don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, formally ended the war in Iraq and brought Osama bin Laden to justice.

( Barack Obama, 2012's Person of the Year)

Through adversity and triumph, public victories and private setbacks, chief official White House photographer Pete Souza and his team of photographers have relentlessly documented the actions of the President, the First Lady and the Vice President since Obama took office in early 2009.

As the President runs for a second term, LightBox asked Souza to reflect on his time photographing Obama and share an edit of his favorite images that he and his staff made during the President's first term; the photographs offer a fascinatingly candid insight into the life of the President while painting a portrait of Barack Obama the man, husband and father.

"I tried to, in putting together this edit, not only to show some of the high points or low points of his presidency thus far, but pictures that help people understand what he’s like, not only as a President but as a human being," Souza tells TIME. "And how he relates to other people, how he relates to his family."

(Person of the Year runner-up: Malala Yousafzai )

Souza's process is aided by his long-standing working relationship with Obama — one that precedes the presidency. They met on Jan. 3, 2005, Obama's first day in the Senate. For Souza, then a staff photographer at the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau, it was the first day of a yearlong assignment to document the new Senator's time in office.

As the assignment evolved, Souza — who had worked as a White House staff photographer during President Reagan's second term — began recognizing something special about the Senator. An inkling of things to come, or potential for the future. He began looking for moments that would prove valuable in the course of history, photographs that would define Obama's early years to those who only knew his legacy.

"I was looking for things that I knew that if he ever became President you would never see again," he says. "[Obama was] walking down a sidewalk in Moscow in 2005 and no one recognized him. I realized that if he ever became President, you would never, ever see a photograph like that. The odds of becoming President are obviously pretty slim, but I knew he had the potential. And you can’t say that about too many people."

Souza continued to photograph Senator Obama, who quickly became presidential-candidate Obama and then Democratic-nominee Obama. With Obama's 2008 election victory, Souza returned to the White House as chief official White House photographer and director of the White House Photography Office.

The photographs that Souza has taken extend the lineage of White House photography that began in the 1960s, first in a somewhat scattered way during John F. Kennedy's Administration and then more officially with Yoichi Okamoto, Lyndon B. Johnson's photographer. Okamoto is considered the first photographer to capture the presidency with an eye for history. Souza is quick to acknowledge and praise his work and that of others who have followed, including David Kennerly (Ford), Bob McNeely (Clinton) and Eric Draper (George W. Bush).

An all-digital workflow is one thing that differentiates Souza's work from the majority of his predecessors. Although he wasn't the one to move the process to digital — Draper, Bush's photographer, made the switch from film to digital — Souza made the first official portrait of an incoming President with a digital camera. The Obama Administration has understood the insatiable appetite for imagery that the digital age has wrought and embraces Flickr as a means of disseminating presidential photography.

The Administration encourages sharing behind-the-scenes photos now, he says. "[It wanted] to establish a way to become more transparent than any other Administration, so every month, we upload a new batch of behind-the-scenes photos. The response has been overwhelming."

But alongside the ease brought by the digital era came one difficulty: the Presidential Records Act prohibits Souza and his team from deleting any photographs. "One of our bigger challenges is just the storage of all these images," he says, noting the immense difficulty the team will experience moving millions of digital files to the National Archives at the end of Obama's tenure.

Souza's work with the President follows in the golden age of photojournalism's best traditions, when photographers working for magazines like LIFE established relationships and spent inordinate amounts of time shooting beautifully crafted images of public figures.

"I spend a lot of time with [the President], around him, on vacations, sometimes on weekends, depending on what’s going on. He’s used to me being around," Souza says. As his friend P.F. Bentley described it, "When the President is on, I’m on. And when the President’s off, I’m still on."

Souza recalls one meeting that he missed because it had been rescheduled unbeknownst to him. "I was a little upset with the President’s secretary for not telling me that they had moved the meeting up, and [the President] heard us talking and he said, 'What are you talking about? You were in that meeting.' He’s so used to me being there that he thought that I had been in the meeting that I wasn’t even in. So I took that as a compliment."

His access to Obama's inner circle and day-to-day routine stems from the trust he built during their relationship prior to the presidency. “I’m there to seriously document his presidency. I’m not looking for cheap shots, and I think that’s the kind of relationship any White House photographer should have with the President they’re covering," he says. "That they have a level of access and trust that will lead to important photographs for history.”

Souza is aware of the significance of the photographs he and his team are taking, but he's also focused on capturing the small and incidental moments that make the Obama Administration unique. “There are days that you certainly think about the importance of what’s taking place — you’re serving an important role in visually documenting this period of time for history,” he says. “But at the same time, a lot of the pictures that tell you a lot about a President are not [made] during those times. They’re when he’s having a private moment with one of his daughters, or when something unexpected happens that may not be, you know, important in terms of history’s sake."

"I think that’s what keeps you on your toes. You never know when those moments are gonna occur, because they don’t always occur when big things are happening," he says. The image of Obama playing in the snow with Sasha and Malia is a testament to Souza's approach. The photograph is not simply of the President but of a moment shared between a father and his daughters.

These personal images round out Souza's portrait of the President and give it greater depth. While preparing this edit for LightBox, he acknowledged that it was hard to present what a presidency is about in just a handful of pictures. "I don’t gravitate toward any singular image right now," he says. "I try to look at a body of work, and so I’m proud of this edit that I submitted. To me, it’s all these photographs together which tell you something about this man, this President, and I guess to a certain extent, about me and what I think is important."

Although Souza's edit comprises more than 100 images, it is by no means a comprehensive record of Obama's time in office. "I’m sure that I left out some important moments," he says. "I don’t think I included anything from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, and that’s historic in itself — he won the Nobel Peace Prize. But it just didn’t fit in with the series of pictures that I wanted to present."

Says Souza of the President: "He has certainly created history just by being the first African-American President. Hopefully in future generations, we’ll soon have a woman President or a Hispanic President, and it won’t matter that much. But I think that if you’d ask him, he wants to be remembered for the things that he’s done.”

For Souza, it’s difficult at this point to reflect on the last four years and the photographs he and his team have made. "One of the difficult things, doing this every day, is having a chance to really sit back and take it all in. Putting these photos together helped that a little bit," he says. "You’re a little bit overwhelmed about everything that happened in four years, because a lot of stuff has happened. I hope there will come a time where, when I’m not doing this job any longer, I’ll be able to sit back and reflect on everything that he’s been through and everything that I’ve been through."

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