– Another hurricane or something. – I will venture that
there is not a person here who cannot conjure these images. President Obama, bent from the waist, inviting a young boy visiting
the Oval to touch his hair. The President and First
Lady in a freight elevator on the night of his first inauguration. She has draped his tuxedo
jacket over her white ballgown. They are leaning into each other, smiling, their foreheads touching. A tense President Obama hunkered
down in the Situation Room with Joe Biden and the
National Security Team, awaiting word on the secret
mission against Osama bin Laden. Those of you more senior in the room will also recall these images
from another presidency. A grave Ronald Reagan,
eyes tightly closed, mourning the death of
the Challenger astronauts at a Johnson Spacecraft Center Memorial. President Reagan in animated
Oval Office conversation with Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan, tuxedoed, dancing
with a radiant Diana, the Princess of Wales. The word iconic is overused but it surely describes Pete Souza’s photography. As the official White House Photographer serving Reagan for six
years and Obama for eight, he has documented some
of the most historic presidential moments of two generations. But the work is more than official record. It is the creation of an observer with acute insight and style,
a photographer whose images seek a characteristic
humanity in his subjects. “All the White House
Photographers that I’ve known, “and I’ve known them all since
the day of Lyndon Johnson, “have been superb
practitioners of their craft,” wrote Howard Baker Junior,
Reagan’s former Chief of Staff, in a forward to Pete’s book
about the Reagan presidency. “A few, such as Pete,” Baker added, “have been great artists as well.” I doubt I’m the only person
here who gets chills seeing a daguerreotype or tintype
or photo of Abraham Lincoln, and I am grateful to those
19th century portraitists, Matthew Brady among them,
who preserved for history both the youthful features
of an Illinois barrister, as well as a beleaguered President, suffering the ravages of the Civil War. The visual record of
the American presidency is a vital national treasure, one which has been significantly defined by a handful of chief
White House Photographers. This has at times not
been without controversy. A coalition of media
organizations protested during the Obama presidency
that news photographers were being denied access in favor of official photos from
the White House staff. New technologies and social media have also transformed
and disrupted the work. Check Pete’s Instagram if
you don’t know what I mean. While the world has come to know Pete as one of our most gifted
presidential photographers, his journalism was just as remarkable. For some years, I was Pete’s colleague at the Chicago Tribune where he graced our paper and our readers with photography that was distinctive and probing. I marveled at the way his
images brought a light to our storytelling that the
words alone could not convey. Assigning Pete to cover a
young Illinois legislator by the name of Barack Obama turned out to be more fateful for him
than I could have predicted, setting him on a path that would define more than a decade of his life. Obama: An Intimate Portrait,
a book of Pete’s photographs of the presidency will
be published in November. It will be a valuable visual chronicle of a historic eight years and
the result of Pete’s efforts to winnow approximately
1.95 million images. Pete, with characteristic
modesty, has said, “I don’t think I’m the best
photographer in the world. “I think I’m a competent photographer, “but I think I was the right person “to photograph Barack Obama.” However those who have
known Pete a long time are clear that his
gifts transcend subject. I asked our friend Paul Salopek,
a two time Pulitzer winner, to tell me what he recalled about Pete from a story that was
among the most challenging I ever gave them at the Tribune. “I met Pete in
Afghanistan,” Paul wrote me. “We covered the war together. “We set out by Jeep
course and finally on foot to cross the Hindu Kush
through winter snow and to report on the fall of Kabul. “We saw a lot of bad things those days, “but what impressed me most about Pete “wasn’t his war photography, “it was his ability to
see through those surfaces “and wring compassion and even beauty “from even the grimmest of human theater. “Pete’s eye,” wrote Paul,
“saw the humanity lurking “under our too obvious inhumanity. “He has that rueful
sideways glance that shames “photojournalism’s conventional
obsession with war porn. “He will always have my
admiration for that.” Mine too. Please welcome my friend, Pete Souza. (audience applauding) – Thank you. I think I should just stop now. (audience laughing) It’s like when Anne Marie
started talking about a couple of my Obama pictures, I was like, well that’s in my slideshow,
that’s in my slideshow. (audience laughing) Oh, that’s in my slideshow. And we did not discuss
this at all beforehand. So what I’m gonna do is just give you, well first of all, thank you
to my friend Carrie Devine and Harvard Institute of Politics for inviting me to speak here today. What I’m gonna do is just
give you a very brief history of the White
House photography office, show just a couple pictures from my tenure with President Reagan, and then get into what I think everyone is here to see. We miss him. Cecil Stoughton, who was a
White House Photographer, he was a military photographer, was assigned to the Kennedy
White House, made this picture. His coverage of Kennedy was hit or miss. He didn’t cover everything
that Kennedy did. Yoichi Okamoto was hired by LBJ, the first civilian White
House Photographer, and to me, he is the best
White House Photographer that has ever, that we’ve ever seen. And he covered LBJ, who
was an unruly character, his official events, playing with kids, and even scaring the
begeezus out of people when he brought them to his ranch and didn’t tell them that his car floated. (audience laughing) As Anne Marie said, I
joined the White House, the Reagan White House in 1983 as one of the White House Photographers. I was not the chief photographer. Michael Evans hired me to work under him. And then he left during the second term, which opened up some access for me and a couple of my colleagues. This was the infamous
summit in Reykjavik in 1986 with Mikhail Gorbachev who was then the leader of the Soviet Union. With Nancy at Camp David and then I think everybody always likes this one. (audience laughing) Michael Jackson, seemingly
part of the wallpaper. (audience laughing) Who happened to be a
bystander during a little argument between the
President and Mrs. Reagan. (audience laughing) 20 years later I found
myself in the office of Senator Barack Obama in a
windowless office in the Senate and made this picture and
spent pretty much a good part of 2005 with him,
documenting his first year in the Senate for the Chicago Tribune. We went to Russia. This is in Red Square. Went to Africa in 2006. As you can see, quite the scene. And then he was elected President, and based on our prior relationship, he asked me to become his
White House Photographer. This is in the Green Room on Capitol Hill, moments before going out to be sworn in as the 44th President
of the United States. I was determined to
take Okamoto’s approach and document his presidency. I wanted it to be the best archive that we’ve ever had of a president, that was my personal mission. This is one of the pictures that Anne Marie so eloquently talked about. But she didn’t mention this. I love the guys in the background. (audience laughing) Trying not to look while
the President and First Lady are having this little private moment. Much of the first year was
dealt with the financial crisis, and I covered countless meetings, both during the week and on weekends. This was one of those meetings
in the Roosevelt Room, which is right across
from the Oval Office. It was a meeting room
that he used a lot because you could get more than 20,
25, 30 people into that room. I thought this was
appropriate to add this today. This was the first weekend
in the White House, and he had never really been
in the White House before. He had been at one event with
President Bush as Senator, but had never really taken
a tour of the White House, so he had the White House Curator give him a tour of the White House, and this was looking at a picture of JFK. I always think this picture
epitomizes the Obama White House in that on the right side of the frame, you have the President engaged
in a serious conversation with his Chief Legislative
Aide, you’ve got David Axelrod, who was his Political Advisor, always stressing out about something. (audience laughing) Always a little unkempt. Funny story about Axelrod,
one time we were up in the residence and Axelrod
was bending down to pet Bo and Bo started licking his tie because he found some
bits of salmon on his tie. (audience laughing) And then on the left side of this frame, you have Robert Gibbs, who
was his Press Secretary, horsing around with
Reggie Love, his body guy. So I always look at this
picture, sort of epitomizes, there was a lot of seriousness, but there was a lot of
fun that took place. This picture too, to me,
tells you a lot about him, even though you don’t really see him. This is editing a healthcare speech with his Chief Speechwriter Jon Favreau. He would write a speech out, Favreau would have somebody type it up, and the President would take it home for the night and
basically edit like this. And this was a seven page speech. But here’s the thing, is he could have easily taken this speech, handed it off to Jon Favreau
and said, here are my edits. Instead he had Jon come in,
sit down in the Oval Office, and for an hour and a half they went over every single clause that he had changed and why he had changed it. I had a high school English
teacher ask to me send him, in high res, a file of this image, because he wanted to display
it for his writing class. This was a very young
family, Sasha and Malia were, let’s see if I have the ages right, I think they were nine and
12 when they first came in, maybe eight and 11, I lose track. And this is just running
into them one day, early on. They’d gotten home from
school and he just spent a few minutes with them on
the White House Colonnade. Every year, the President
would invite all 50 governors to the White House for
a series of meetings and then they would have a
black tie dinner at night. This is him dancing with Michelle, singing along to Earth, Wind, and Fire, (audience laughing) who were standing right behind me. (audience laughing) This is another picture that Anne Marie talked about that was taken early on. This is Jacob Philadelphia,
he is four years old, at least he was at the time. So gosh, he must be 12
now, I guess, 12 or 13. So his dad worked for the
National Security Council in a non-political post. They usually do a three year
tenure at the White House, and then they move onto another post. I think he went to Africa after this. So he worked two and a half years in the Bush Administration, stayed over for six months
in the Obama Administration, and as a courtesy, the President invited the family in for a family photo. And at the end of the family photo, the mom says, Jacob
has a question for you. And Jacob said, Mr.
President, very softly, my friends said my hair
is just like yours. And so the President bent
over and he touched his head. I have one frame, like
click, it happened so fast, I didn’t know it was gonna happen, which is why the composition
is a little haphazard. But I did catch the
moment that it happened. I think if you asked him today, he would say the best day of
his presidency was the day that the Affordable Care Act ended. It was March 21st, 2010. The morning started,
there’s Axelrod again. It was on a weekend, I can’t remember if it
was Saturday or Sunday, the culmination of
basically a year and a half was the final vote in the
House of Representatives, which was gonna be later this day. And they were still trying to line up support for some wavering democrats. This is in Rahm Emanuel’s, he was the Chief of Staff in his office. Presidnet on the phone
with a wavering democrat. He was saying things like,
I’m not joking about this, he was saying like, what
do you want from me? I’ll wash your car, you
want me to wash your car? (audience laughing) I’ll come wash your car. He went home, had dinner,
and it looked like they had the votes, but you never know. So he came down to the West Wing with Joe Biden and much of the staff that had worked on the healthcare bill. They watched the final
vote on a TV like that one, wasn’t this big, it
was more like that big. And then this is him and Joe applauding. Thank you Jim Messina for raising your arms in the background. (audience laughing) And then, I like the hug with Rahm after, if you look really at that picture, Rahm’s a little tense. (audience laughing) The President then invited everyone that was in the Roosevelt Room, and there were like 60
people, to come upstairs to the private residence
to have a champagne toast. So I jumped on the elevator with him, the Vice President, and
his Legislative Aide, and then everyone came
out to the Truman Balcony. And for a lot of these
people, it was the only time they were ever in the private residence throughout the years at the White House. By the way, he was drinking
a martini, not champagne. Anne Marie set the stage
pretty well for this photo. This is the afternoon, as it
was, of the bin Laden raid. So here’s the thing, think about this. You have the top people in our government, you have the President,
the Vice President, Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Chief of Staff, National Security Advisor, and on and on, in this little tiny room. The Situation Room itself is
this big huge conference room, and there’s this little
tiny room across the hall which is where they had set
up the communications link so they could monitor
this mission in real time. So they moved into this little room. The Brigadier General that was monitoring on his keyboard, the communications. When the President walked
in, he stood up to give the President his chair and the
President’s like no, no, no, this is your room, I’m gonna sit, pull up a chair to the side here. But the thing that strikes
me now, more than anything, about this picture is all
these people, as I said, the most powerful people
in our government, could not do a damn thing except watch what was taking place. They’d already made their
decision and they were helpless ’cause all they could do was watch. And this could have gone really badly. And it started out really badly when one of the helicopters
coming in crashed. So that accounts for the anxiety
that you see in the photo. Another thing, because I
was stuck in the corner of this room and there were
so many people in the room, the one thing that I
did not see that I later was told about was Joe
Biden and Mike Mullen, who was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he’s the guy in the tan suit standing right behind the President. They both had rosary beads in their hands. And so later in they day, they asked me to take a picture of them
holding their rosary beads. This happened at 4
o’clock in the afternoon but the reality was that
day went from like 1 o’clock til almost midnight with
just a series of meetings as they debated whether to make it public that they had gotten bin Laden, whether they knew for
sure it was bin Laden. One of the Navy SEALs actually was about the same height as bin Laden, so he lied down at one point,
next to bin Laden’s body, to see if they were about the same height, this is a true story. Around 11 o’clock, news started to break, just before the President went and made his remarks to the nation, and
that’s when I saw the image of bin Laden appear on this
little TV screen right outside the Oval Office and changed
my focus to that TV screen. And then two days later,
we went to New York City to a firehouse that lost the
most number of guys on 9/11. Pretty much an entire company was inside one of the towers when
the towers collapsed, so they toasted to the
memory of those firefighters. I showed you a couple
pictures from Okamoto, which I think help tell you a little bit about Johnson as a person. That was another thing
that I was striving to do in my coverage of President Obama. And I thought the best
way to do that was to show how he interacted with people
from all walks of life. This is Rebekah Erler, she’s
a middle class housewife in Minneapolis and she
had written a letter to the President that
struck a chord with him. So when we had an event in Minneapolis, he invited her to lunch at
Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis. A GSA custodian in the
White House complex, fist bumping with the the President. Pope Francis. I threw this one in for
today, Bill Russell, the day before his statue was unveiled and I think it’s in front
of City Hall, right? And also looking for some humor, so– (audience laughing) So this is Marvin Nicholson, he’s 6’8″. Marvin was always on a diet or trying to exercise to lose weight. We were doing an event in
Texas and had walked through the women’s volleyball locker
room and Marvin saw a scale. So he jumped on the
scale and he kept sliding the lever to the right, thinking
that he had lost weight. Unbeknownst to him, the President
had his toe on the scale and kept pushing it down
further and further. And like everybody else
knows what’s going on, except for Marvin, Marvin’s the only one. The other thing that strikes
me now about this photo is why would you hold your books
if you were weighing yourself? (audience laughing) (audience laughing) Two bros, right? Two bros.
(audience laughing) Yeah, yeah, I miss those guys. They didn’t know each other well at the start of the administration, and by the end of the administration, they called each other brother. This was Joe Biden’s son
Beau died of a brain tumor, really tragic, he was the
Attorney General of Delaware. And the President gave
the eulogy at his funeral. And later the President told
me that when he was speaking from the podium, he could not look at Joe when he was making his
remarks ’cause he knew he wouldn’t be able to
get through his remarks. So– (audience laughing) I’ll go ahead and say it. This is how you should
speak to the Russians. (audience laughing and applauding) I’ll leave it at that. (audience laughing) This is, (laughing) I’m looking at plenty on this one. Isn’t this funny? Our friend Ferial, Ferial Govashiri, who is the President’s Personal Aide the last three years, I think. And Ferial was born in
Iran, emigrated to the US with her family when she was a little kid. And she was about to get
married and the President heard some Persian music playing
so he came out to see what was going on and Ferial said she was just practicing for her wedding, listening to the music,
so they started doing their little dance together,
which I thought was so cute. The President always thinks
he’s the best at everything. (audience laughing) He actually is a really good singer, I give him chops for that, but
he thinks he’s a good dancer. (audience laughing) Not really. This is his first trip
to Kenya as president. I’d actually gone with him
when he went as a senator, and you can see it got a little unruly. Not in a bad way, not in a violent way, just people were so excited to see him. Dalai Lama. – Aww.
– Oh. That’s what everybody always
does when they see this. So this is Prince George. I’m not a big royal person,
so I always forget who his, like, oh, it’s Prince
William, okay, that’s right. And like is it the Duchess of whatever, Cambridge or something like that. Kate right? I think it’s Kate, isn’t it? Yeah.
(audience laughing) So we went to Kensington Palace and it was past Prince
George’s bedtime so he came, he stayed up, he came
in his nice little robe. (audience laughing) And also I have pictures of him playing on his rocking horse and all
kinds of stuff like that. (laughing) One of the funny things that
happened was when it was time for Prince George to go to
bed, his nanny came to get him, picked Prince George up, and
as they were going upstairs to his bedroom, the nanny
says to Prince George, say thank you to the gentleman. So Prince George looks at me
and goes, thank you very much. (audience laughing) I don’t think Prince George
or Prince William knew that I had also photographed
their grandmother, mother, respectively, 30 years
before when Princess Diana danced with John Travolta
at the White House. A president has to do
some uncomfortable things, one of which is be at times
the consoler in chief. This was after Hurricane Sandy, and the President had heard
about this couple, the mom, the wife, had gotten stuck
in flood waters after Hurricane Sandy and frantically
tried to get out of the car. She was rescued but her two kids were washed away and later died. And the President heard about this story, so he asked to meet with them when we were in New Jersey, New York, I’m sorry. This is a woman who survived
the shootings in Arizona. If you remember, Gabby
Giffords, who was a Congressman, had had an event, I think
it was outside of Tucson, and some deranged guy
shot a bunch of people, including Gabby, who was shot in the head. This woman’s husband
had lept on top of her, knocked her down and
covered himself over her, and he was shot to
death, but she survived. Another thing that we did, when I say we, I mean the President did,
I went along with him, is we visited Walter Reed Hospital, I think it was like 24
times over the eight years to visit with wounded soldiers. In the first few years, it was very, it was sometimes hard
to walk into these rooms ’cause some of the patients
were severely injured, including this guy, Cory Remsburg. You can see the stitches on his brain. He was hit by a roadside
explosion in Afghanistan and could barely function when he walked into the hospital room. His dad Craig was there and Craig said, well you’ve met Cory before. And that piqued my interest
as well as the President’s. And it turns out that eight months before, we had gone to D-Day for
the anniversary ceremony. He said he met a young Army Ranger by the name of Cory Remsburg, that’s him shaking hands
with the President. And Craig had this
photo pasted on the wall of his hospital room,
which was so hard to see that difference between this and that. I personally didn’t think, I thought Cory would never recover. But I’m happy to say that
a couple years later, he was invited by the
President and First Lady to be honored at the
State of the Union Address and sat next to the First Lady
in the box on Capitol Hill. And then three years later,
we went and visited Cory at his new house outside of Phoenix, which was just remarkable to see the progress that he had made. Okay, let’s get to some fun stuff. (audience laughing) (audience laughing) So it actually gets a little better. So he thinks, he would call
himself the baby whisperer. (audience laughing) Baby whisperer. So Michelle picks up this baby
at the Congressional Picnic, and you see him trying to shush the baby and he’s like, let me have that baby. (audience laughing) It’s like, Michelle’s
look is pretty obvious, but his look is like see,
I’ve got this, I’m in control. (audience laughing) This is Ben Rhodes’ daughter. So one of the things that
happened was we had a lot of staff in their late 20s, early 30s,
and they started having kids. So he would always encourage staff to bring their little baby by for a visit. Spider-Man, this is the son of one of his Political Aides on Halloween. As he was leaving, the President
said zap me one more time. I got lucky with the flag
in the mirror on this one. Then this became, was in
the news earlier this year, when the President tweeted this out, right after Charlottesville. He had gone to visit Sasha, no actually, he had gone to Sasha’s school for a parent-teacher conference, and when he was leaving to
go back to the motorcade, there was a daycare center next door and he saw these kids
hanging out of the window. I love the kid like,
no shirt on, like what? (audience laughing) That’s pretty casual, I’d say. (audience laughing) (audience laughing) So we’d go to these, anytime
we were in the Midwest, we’d always go to these
diners, it seemed, for lunch. It was what was called an
off the record movement, meaning that it wasn’t on
the schedule, we would just, wouldn’t even tell people we were coming til like an hour before and then whoever happened to be there,
happened to be there. So he is like, the President
is, the President was, is, the most disciplined eater I’ve ever seen. He never eats dessert during the week. But they gave him this
piece of strawberry pie. So he said, anybody want it? And of course this little
kid said yeah, I’ll have it. (audience laughing) – [Audience] Aww. – Yeah, this is Ben
Rhodes’ daughter again. She’s famous and these will be projected at her wedding in 20 years. (audience laughing) Just to show you a few family photos. This is early on in the administration, like the first few months. And Bo, I consider a part of the family. So this is the day they
met Bo for the first time. Running into Sasha who had
just gotten home from school. We were at an event on the State Floor and he just literally ran into her, so took the elevator up to the residence with her for a few minutes. With Malia on the swing set. So they built this swing set right outside the Oval Office for Sasha and Malia. This is actually during
the whole BP oil spill, you guys remember that? And he had just finished
a meeting and he looked out the window and Malia
was sitting on the swing, so he came out and just talked
to her for a few minutes. The thing I always admired
was even if he only had a few minutes with them, he was all in. There wasn’t a Blackberry in his hand, there wasn’t some aide
giving him paperwork. When he spent time with them,
he spent time with them, which I always admired. One postscript to this picture. So this swing set was offered
to the Trump Administration, ’cause the Obama, it was donated
to the Obamas personally, not to the White House, so
the President offered it to the Trump Administration,
they said they didn’t want it. So it was instead donated to an afterschool place in
DC, so it has a good home. (audience laughing) Snowmageddon. So this was in I think 2010. We had this huge snowstorm in DC. I actually slept in my
office on Friday night, thinking that the girls
were still young enough and he’s so playful
enough that at some point, the next day, they would come outside and play in the snow, and they did. This is actually the Rose Garden. And we walked all around the
White House, it was a cool day. He also brought the family
on several foreign trips, including to visit Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island outside
of Cape Town, South Africa. They were listening to the tour guide, he was actually more than a tour guide. He was imprisoned with Mandela for, I think it was 16 years,
and so he was giving a firsthand account of what
that experience was like. Michelle. So this is during the second inauguration, as they’re going down from the Capitol back to the White House. So when we were at the Capitol,
right after the swearing in, I said to the President,
or I asked the President, I said sir, do you mind if I
ride in the limousine with you? And he looked at me straight
faced and he said well, Michelle and I were planning to make out. (audience laughing) So I think people never really saw that he had a funny sense of humor. We had gone down to
Florida after the oil spill had gotten cleaned up, mostly
to call attention to tourism on the Gulf Coast, that it
was safe to go on the beaches. And we went on this boat ride. It was the President, Michelle, and Sasha, Malia was at camp, I think. And I noticed as we
were on this boat ride, the First Lady was just
rubbing her finger on his hand. So I made this closeup shot. This is Paul McCartney
singing Michelle to Michelle. He had been awarded
with the Gershwin Prize and had other artists
sing most of his songs, and then at the end, he
came onstage and sang Let It Be, Hey Jude, and Michelle. As this was happening, I was like, this is really cool, right? The next day I’m walking on the
Colonnade with the President and I said to him, boy, that
was a great event last night. And he looked at me and he goes yeah, I don’t think Michelle,
growing up on the South Side of Chicago as a young
African American girl thought that someday she’d
be sitting in the front row of the White House, as the First Lady, listening to a former Beatle
sing her namesake song to her. And I was just like, whoa. (audience laughing) ‘Cause when you think about it. The great thing about this photo too is Michelle’s mom is in the photo, so she’s the one sitting
next to Nancy Pelosi, I’m sure those thoughts were
going through her mind too. Okay, now. (audience laughing) This tells you a lot about
him, I’ll tell you why. (audience laughing) Sasha had a school basketball team, they were called the Vipers,
they were actually really good, mostly because of Joe
Biden’s granddaughter, who was like the best athlete I’ve ever seen as a nine year old. (audience laughing) And he was one of those
parents that sat in the stands. You know what I’m talking about. (audience laughing) But his wish came true when one day the two coaches for the team
could not make the game. (audience laughing) And so someone raised their hand and said I’ll coach the team. So here’s the funny thing,
this is during a timeout. Sasha’s looking at him
like oh my God, Dad. (audience laughing) And he is giving instructions, is probably the loosely way
to describe what he was doing, as if this was the NBA Finals. (audience laughing) These are a bunch of nine year old girls playing basketball on a Saturday, like one of those leagues
where at the end of the season, everybody gets a trophy. (audience laughing) So it tells you he is one competitive guy, even when it comes to nine
year olds playing basketball. By the way, number five,
one of Sasha’s friends, interned as a high school
student in my office last summer. This is the State Dinner
for Prime Minister Trudeau and his wife and it was one of the last State Dinners we had. So the Obamas thought it would be nice to invite Sasha and Malia as guests. So Anne Marie mentioned I have this book coming out in November, and sometime in March I had
gone to see President Obama. And he knew I was doing this book and he asked me how it was
going, I said it’s a challenge, I got 1.9 million photos and I
only have room for about 300, so that’s a challenge to edit it down. And he looked at me and he goes, well, you gotta choose the
aesthetic over the narrative. And I’m like what, are you
now the photo editor too? (audience laughing) I didn’t say that to him, but
that’s what I was thinking. I almost said it, I wanted to say it, but I just didn’t quite
have enough guts to say it. But that’s what I was thinking. So the next week, I was
working with a book designer in New York so I took
the train up to New York and I’m in her studio and we’re trying to get the flow right, the edit right, and then I just started cursing. And she’s like, what’s the matter? I go, he was right. (laughing) (audience laughing) Not all the time, but a
lot of times he was right. So here’s some cool pictures
that maybe don’t tell you much about him as a person but I
think they’re just cool pictures of the presidency without
necessarily showing him. This is Air Force One in Seattle. Marine One in Petra, Jordan. Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. It was magical ’cause the fog was rolling in when we were up there. This is waiting to board a helicopter at Westchester, New York. That’s Reggie Love with the umbrella. At the Martin Luther King
Memorial the day before it opened. They went one of those off the record movements the night before. Walking with Denis McDonough after a snowstorm, back
home for the night. So here’s the thing, folks. (audience laughing) First, just a quick
backstory, this is in Jamaica. And one of my responsibilities
when he was getting ready to leave a country was
there’d be this delegation at the bottom of the stairs
to say goodbye to him. And so I had to be there
to get all those preets, and here I see this rainbow in the back. I’ve got my eye on that
as I’m doing these preets, and as soon as I make that last picture and he starts walking up the stairs, I take a chance and run to where I think it’s gonna line up to get this picture. So it’s like, I had the
experience of it before, like he turns around, I knew
usually about where he stopped. But I got pretty lucky and got this photo. But here’s the thing. (laughing) Somehow, I didn’t put this in my book, so I’m kind of regretting it. (audience laughing) But at some point I had
to say stop, we’re done, ’cause I could still be editing the book today if I had the time. This is after the Supreme Court passed, upheld the same sex marriage, and one of the young
guys at the White House had the great idea of lighting the White House up in rainbow colors. This is on a Friday
night, a lot of the staff stayed late into the
night and just basically partied in front of the White House. Shooting hoops at the White
House basketball court. This is a golf course in Hawaii. I love the fact that he’s
just out there by himself. I used to call this golf
course Jurassic Park. (audience laughing) (audience laughing) So we would hang these large
prints in the West Wing so that staff, when they
gave their friends and family tours at night of the West Wing, they would get to see the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room and all that stuff, but they would also get to see the walls lining these pictures. And the only time he
would see them was when he was walking down to the Situation Room. And so maybe once a week
or once every couple weeks, he perused the photos on his way down and on the way back up to the Oval Office. So he saw this photo and he
just started cracking up. And he looked at me and
he says look at that, the two most famous sets
of ears in Washington. (audience laughing) And somebody asked me the other day, that is not Sean Spicer. (audience laughing) I guess he was the Easter Bunny during the Bush Administration,
I read that somewhere. I think if you asked him today
he would say the worst day of his presidency was the
day of the Newtown shootings. When John Brennan, who was
the Homeland Security Advisor, had to be the one to come in and tell him that 26 people were killed
including 20 first graders, and you could see the emotions just, his body language shows you how he felt. I think he was looking at it as a parent. Imagine if you’re a
parent of a six year old, you send your kid off to
school, that’s a safe zone, and they never come home
again because they were shot to death by some crazy guy. Like an hour or so later, he had to go out to the White House Briefing
Room, this is just before he walked out to make a
statement about the shootings. And later that day, we
had a Christmas reception, ’cause this was during December. And he was trying to decide
whether he should actually go to it and realized that
there was like 600 people that had been invited
from all over the country, big supporters of his, friends, so he decided he was gonna
make just quick remarks and say a prayer for the Newtown folks. He would usually go up to
the private residence to get the First Lady and they then
would walk down the stairs. So I went up to the residence
with them and Malia was there, it was the first time he
had seen Malia that day, so he latched onto her and
just didn’t let her go. Two days later, we went to
Newtown for the memorial service, just two days after the shootings. It was on a Saturday and Sasha had a dance recital that night, which he was gonna have to miss. So instead, before we flew up to Newtown, he went by her dress rehearsal in Maryland and there were like 16 dance performances, I think Sasha was in three of
them, or something like that. And so when Sasha was not dancing, he was working on his
speech the whole time. And then when she was dancing, he just stopped what he was
doing and he watched her dance. And there was nobody else in the theater, there was no other parents,
it was just basically him. At one point I had gone down
to the first or second row to try to get some pictures
of Sasha actually dancing and one of the dance
troupes came off stage and sat in the row right behind me, and there were about 20 of them, 25, and they were all pretty young. And I asked this one little
girl, how old are you guys? And she looked at me
nervously and said, we’re six. And I thought to myself, this
is what was just slaughtered, these 20 kids just like this. That was when the emotion hit
me more than any other time. So we went to Newtown, out
of deference to the families, I’m not gonna show a picture
that will be in my book of him greeting some of the family members before he went out to make remarks. I really, we had never published any of those photos or made them public, but I really wanted to
include one in my book. So I chose what I thought was the best representative photo of him
greeting these families, which he did for almost three hours. And on Memorial Day weekend this year, I drove up to meet with the
Wheeler family in Newtown and I showed them the layout of my book and the photo that I
wanted to use of them, and they said they would be honored to be included in the book, and it’s a heart wrenching
photo when you see it. But because this is gonna be on YouTube, I don’t feel comfortable
showing that picture here. This was in a classroom after
he had met with the families, just before he went out to make remarks. Once again, reediting his speech after his interaction with the families and then making remarks
at the memorial service. So you can look at this as two ways, this is like, okay, I’m almost done, but the final days were not
really that good, right? They started out good, this was the night before the election, we held the joint event
with Hilary in Philly. And I think you can see
by the look on their faces that they were somewhat optimistic. But instead, two days later,
the President had to call much of the staff into
the Oval Office to try to pep them up after Trump
had won the presidency. And then the transition of
power is such that you invite the President Elect to the White House, so this is two days after the election, Trump came to visit the White House. And then that same day, here’s the irony, the same day that Trump
came to visit, so did Alex. Alex is six, Alex wrote
a letter to the President after he had seen a picture
of a young boy in Syria in the back of an ambulance,
remember that picture? He’s all bloodied, covered in
dust, and he wrote a letter to the President saying
he can come live with us, he can ride my bike, he
can play with our toys, he can meet my friend
Omar, Omar was from Iraq. And how ironic that it
was that this young boy happened to be invited to
the Oval Office that same day that the current president came to visit. Alright, I don’t wanna
leave you on a bummer, so– (audience laughing) Bruce Springsteen, like the only– (audience laughing) tell me another time that you’ve seen a picture of him in a
suit and coat and tie. (audience laughing) He had gotten the
Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the last 12 or 15 people to get this award from the President. I think they were laughing actually because Bruce was wearing
a suit, coat, and tie. (audience laughing) I don’t even know if Connie
knows this full story, but so Christmas at the
White House is pretty fun, and this last year for some reason, they put four snowmen in the Rose Garden. It never snowed all December,
so every day the President would walk from the White House residence, along the Colonnade, and there
would be the four snowmen. So Brian Mosteller and
I, Brian was the Director of Oval Office Operations, he
and I had this great idea that every day we’d move the snowman one foot closer to the Oval Office. (audience laughing) So the day we decided
we were gonna do this, we went out there after he
had gone home for the night and realized they were
too heavy to pick up. So Brian, being the
resourceful guy that he is, the day before we went to
Hawaii for Christmas vacation, he got the White House
grounds crew to help him move all four of the snowmen so
each of them was peeking in a different window of the Oval Office. (audience laughing) My job that day was when
the President walked over from the residence was to
distract him so he wouldn’t look in the Rose Garden like he
did every other morning, which is ’cause he would see
that the snowmen were missing. So remember that picture
of him dancing with Ferial? So he walks over, I distract him, he doesn’t see that the
snowmen are missing, and he’s standing right where
he was dancing in that photo, talking to Ferial before he
walked into the Oval Office, and then he looked, just
glanced in the Oval Office, and there was this guy
looking right at him and he just started cracking up. (audience laughing) So we pranked him pretty good. (audience laughing) This is January 19th, the night before we left the White House. Shooting hoops with Denis McDonough, his Chief of Staff, on the South Grounds. Leaving the Oval Office for the last time. You may have noticed, for those of you that
follow me on Instagram, I posted a similar picture
a couple weeks ago of him putting the letter that he
wrote to Trump in the drawer. This picture was taken from a ladder. So this is one of the few times where I envisioned the
photo before it happened, and so the GSA guys set up a ladder for me so I could get his wide shot
of him leaving the Oval. Saying goodbye to the residence staff, they are nonpolitical, so they stay on for the next President. This is Von Everett, who I actually knew, he started during the
Reagan Administration, so I actually knew him towards the end of the Reagan Administration. This is after the swearing in. And then on the helicopter,
leaving the Capitol, going to Joint Base Andrews,
flying over the White House. So this has always been
one of my favorite quotes. “If you’re walking down the right path “and you’re willing to keep walking, “eventually you’ll make progress.” And I leave you with this photograph. Thank you. (audience applauding) So sorry, I went a little
long, so I apologize. But for those that you wanna stay, those of you that wanna stay, I think we can do a few questions. – Yeah, we’re gonna do a few questions. So there are microphones, here, here, there, there, and here’s the
only rule for these forums, that they have to be, you
have to introduce yourself, and you have to ask a
question which is something that has that thing at the end. So no speeches, but
questions would be great, and I’ll start with you. – Hi, my name is Ben Bolger
and I’m a Harvard alum. And when you began as
photographer for the White House in the ’80s, there’s
no digital photography. During President Obama’s tenure, digital photography really
matured and it changed. I remember in the early 2000s, four or five megapixels was a big deal, I now have a camera in my
hand that’s 42 megapixels. So I’m just wondering if you
could talk about your decision to use digital photography
with President Obama and then when did you choose
to upgrade cameras and embrace newer iterations of cameras
during the presidency? – So Eric Draper, who was
President Bush’s photographer, made the switch to digital during the second term of the Bush Administration and it just seemed like
the only way to go. It’s a digital world we live in. So there wasn’t much
of a decision to make. I felt that it had already been made. And in terms of upgrading the cameras, I did it whenever we could but we, (laughing) we have to rely on government to pay for cameras so we were
very ingenious about it though in terms of we got, there’s
a lot of old camera equipment left around from the Bush Administration. We actually ended up trading
in a lot of the old equipment and got new cameras for no money, actually I think they owed us money, so. (audience laughing) – [Anne Marie] Tyler? – Hi, I’m Tyler Bridges,
I’m a Shorenstein Fellow. Listening to your remarks,
you don’t seem like you were completely awed by being around the most powerful people in the world. And I wonder if that attitude of yours, if I’m reading you correctly,
helped you do that job better. And also did it get you better access that the Obamas felt
comfortable around you? – Yeah, Anne Marie mentioned in the intro, I guess I had said this somewhere else ’cause I’ve never really
said this to her that I don’t think I’m the greatest
photographer in the world, but I think I was the right
person to do that job. And I think part of it was having had the previous experience in the White House with President Reagan,
knowing President Obama before he became president,
I knew him for four years, and had developed a professional
relationship with him. He also, he’s very aware of how I worked, which was what I like to
say is a small footprint, that I’m not being a nuisance, that I’m using quiet cameras,
that I’m never in the way, that I’m there as an
observer, a visual observer, and I think he understood that. So I think he appreciated the way I worked when he asked me to be his
White House Photographer. And I think what happens
in a situation like that is if you’re the Chief of
Staff or Secretary of Defense or whatever and you see that the President of the United States is
comfortable with me being there, then who are you to say otherwise? And there were a few bumps along the way, but those were usually
during the first few months. So I think, and you’re right, I was not, the one thing I realize is that we’re all fellow human beings and yeah, there’s some of these guys have big egos, but that was never an issue for me. I felt actually really
comfortable in that setting, even with all those powerful
people, including Putin. (audience laughing) – Go ahead, and then you and then you. – Me first? Okay, hey there, I’m Amanda Coleman, I’m a first year here doing an MPA, and I have been following
you on Instagram for years. And as my generation is
learning to express themselves and tell stories on
Instagram and Facebook, there’s this interesting play where we can one, be storytellers of our own lives and feel really excited
when we get lots of likes, then there’s this other
element to it where we can become ambassadors for people
who are important to us or things that are really interesting. But it’s a very interesting balance. So you have over a million
followers on Instagram, and I think it’s been a huge
part of how we’ve followed the White House over the
last four to eight years. So I’d be curious, how was
that experience for you? Like posting and sharing
stories and getting hundreds of thousands of likes in a
day and understanding that that was basically our window
into a very important part of government and
leadership in this country. – The reality is that I’ll bet most of you wouldn’t be here if it
wasn’t for my Instagram feed. (audience laughing) I was a reluctant
initial user of Instagram when the White House asked me to do it. I thought it would be just another thing that I would have to worry about. So I forget exactly when
Instagram came about, I think it was in 2010,
and it wasn’t til at least a year later that I actually
started posting photos, and I started having fun with it. So there’s, but there’s a cut off, and the cut off was January 20th, when my account became archived, and we switched it to a different name, so I could keep my own name, ’cause originally they
were saying you can’t keep the Instagram handle
@petesouza, and I’m like, what? (audience laughing) That’s who I am. So they changed it to
@petesouza44, it got archived, where it remains so you can still look at everything that I posted
during the White House years. You can’t do comments anymore, so it’s a locked account,
but you can see everything. So then on January 20th, I
became a private citizen, and my account was private,
and as maybe you’ve noticed, I have been able to write
different types of captions. (audience laughing) – Yeah.
– That I couldn’t when I was in the White House. If you look at my captions
when I was in the White House, it was either a straightforward
journalistic-like caption, or maybe there was a backstory to it. But now as a private citizen, sometimes I get a little unruly. (audience laughing) – [Amanda] Awesome, thank you. – [Aden] Hi my name is
Aden Van Noppen and– – Oh.
– I’m over here. (laughing) And I’m a Fellow
at Harvard Divinity School, but was on the White House
team for the last two years in the Office of Science
and Technology Policy. – [Pete] You look familiar. – (laughing) But my question is, you mentioned the
President’s favorite moment of the presidency and I’m wondering what your favorite moment was. – Oh man, somebody just asked me that before I came out, and it’s, my job was always to, well,
wait, hold it, hold it. I know the answer. (audience laughing) My favorite moment was when I got married in the Rose Garden. – [Audience] Aww. – True story, with my former
boss as the officiant, in 2013. God, if I hadn’t said
that, can you imagine? (audience laughing) Can you imagine when, I
would make sure that my wife would never see the URL for YouTube. (audience laughing) So that was my favorite moment. – [Aden] Thanks. – [Anne Marie] Go ahead. – Hello, my name is Amar, I’m one of the MPPs here in my first year. My question is, I’m a
photographer myself as well, and when I handle all of my equipment, it’s quite unruly, it’s quite obstructive. When you’re taking photographs
in tense situations like the bin Laden raid
that you’ve shown us, how do you blend into the background? What techniques do you use? And when you’re using cameras, things like flashes or shutter sounds, they often get in the way
and can distract the subject. How do you overcome that? – Yeah. A lot of it is people are
used to me always being there. So, and I used a very quiet
camera, and I didn’t use flash, and I didn’t use rapid motor drive, so I was very stealth, I think. It’s interesting, the President wrote the forward to my book, he
was nice enough to do that, and he has a line in there about that, about the way I worked,
which I appreciated. – [Amar] Did you just have
a camera and then that’s it? – No, I usually had two cameras. – Right.
– Yeah. – One more over here. – [Samantha] Oopsie, I’m
really interested in– – Could you introduce yourself? – Oh sorry, I’m a high school
student, I’m Samantha Lee. And I’m really interested
in photojournalism and from what little I know of the field, it seems like it’s
really hard to get into. And I was wondering how you broke into it, and what that was like for you. – So I went to school
right across the river at Boston University and I
was in their journalism school and I had hopes of
becoming a sportswriter. And then in my junior year I took a photography class and
I think the first time, this is where you actually
had to develop film, put it on a reel, and
then you put the negative in the enlarger and you expose it, paper, and then you develop the paper in the dark with Dektol developer, and the first time that that first print
came up in the developer, right in front of my
eyes, that was it for me. And it was more, early on it
was more about photography than it was about photojournalism, it was the magic of photography. So that’s how I got started. – [Samantha] Okay, thank you. – Pete if I could ask
you a question to close, I’m curious, you spent a couple of years photographing Barack
Obama as a journalist. And then many more years photographing him as the White House’s
official photographer. And I’m wondering if you could reflect on the differences between
those two assignments, either in how you approached
them or how he approached you. – That’s a great question, which
is why you are who you are. (laughing) And I don’t know that I can
articulate this so well, but let me give it a shot. I don’t think the way I
photographed him was any different as a White House Photographer
on government payroll than I did with the Tribune,
but there is a difference. And it becomes that when
you’re photographing him, when I photographed him for the Tribune, ultimately the Tribune
had the final decision on which photographs would
appear in the newspaper. He didn’t have any control over that. I would say for the most part, the same held true when I was
a White House Photographer in that he didn’t ever
really get involved. I can only think of two
times in eight years where I actually showed him a photograph
before we made it public, for two completely different reasons. – Having to do with
sensitivity of the subject or? – Well one of them was, so we had, the way it worked was I would
ultimately choose whichever photograph would be made
public for whatever reason. And I would show that photograph to someone in the White
House Press Office. And I would say 99.5% of the time, they would say that’s fine, and then maybe they
might have an objection about something that I
hadn’t really thought about. The two times were one, someone was gonna do a story
about him coaching the girls. He started doing the Sunday clinics, basketball clinics with the girls and the Press Office wanted to
release a couple pictures to this news outlet, I
forget which one it was. And I chose the photographs, but then I started having
doubts about whether this was too invasive of the
personal aspect of his life. And I actually showed them to him. Because I just didn’t think
it was the time to do it. We ended up doing it later
on, a couple years later, but at the time, just seemed
like the wrong thing to do. And he agreed with me that
we should hold off for now. I think he was mostly worried that he was gonna get in trouble with someone. (audience laughing) The second one, you’ll
really like this one. So he did this long form interview with, I think it was The Atlantic, and they delved into gun control. And he was getting
pressed on the GOP thing, ’cause he was trying to do
away with the Second Amendment, blah blah blah, and he
just spat out that look, I understand, I have friends that hunt, I myself, I skeet shoot at
Camp David all the time. And about three weeks later the interview came out in print and
people didn’t believe him. People saw that quote and
they said, he’s lying. Well I knew he had skeet
shooted at Camp David ’cause not only did I have pictures of him but I had shot skeet myself with him. So there was this big
debate in the White House on whether to release a photo. I went through, looked at all the photos, I picked out what I
thought was the best one, and I did show that to him,
and he said that’s great, he wanted me to put out
like 10 photos ’cause (audience laughing)
he wanted to prove to people that he wasn’t lying. And the photo was like,
I don’t know that much about shooting, target
shooting, but he’s left handed, so he was shooting and
there was smoke coming up from the barrel, and I was
like, nobody’s gonna doubt that this is him shooting,
actually shooting a gun. So we released the photo,
the New York Times, Washington Post, they
all do stories about it. And then somebody reads me the story about how it was a fake photo, like it was a whole story,
this is a fake photo, it was obviously taken on
the White House grounds and the background was superimposed, and there’s no way that Souza could have made this photograph on
this particular Saturday at this particular time
because he had just taken a helicopter from Andrews
Air Force Base to Camp David and there’s not enough light in the day for him to make that photo. This was my introduction to Breitbart.com. (audience laughing) – I hate to leave it there. (audience laughing) I do recall in the Reagan book though, you did phony a photo. – [Pete] I did what? – You phonied up a photo. You talk about in the book
how he never slept on a plane and you were on–
– Oh, oh. – And they were on a transatlantic flight and the President turned to Pete and said could you please take this photo of me pretending like I’m sleeping, Nancy will want to know
I rested on the flight. (audience laughing) – This is true, and this is
in the days before digital, so we had to make a print when we landed, and then we actually faxed
it to the White House and somebody handed it to Nancy, yeah. – Anyway, please join me in thanking Pete. (audience applauding) Good job. – Thank you.