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The True Stories Behind Pete Souza’s Most Famous Barack Obama Photos
If you don’t know Pete Souza by name, you’ve probably seen his work. The unblinking eyes of President Obama and Hilary Clinton in the Situation Room during the Osama bin Laden raid. Meme-inspiring shots of Joe Biden and Barack Obama together. Obama holding Michelle’s hand during a John Lewis speech.
Souza’s time as the Chief Official White House Photographer during the Obama presidency is documented in The Way I See It, which is now in theaters. And to coincide with the documentary’s premiere, we asked Souza to run through some of his most iconic photographs for “Explain This,” where we ask celebrities to take us through some of their best (and sometimes most questionable) moments. Souza’s stories didn’t disappoint. He started with a shot of a contemplative President Obama, which made Souza think of, what else, the coronavirus pandemic.
“I look at this picture and it’s a reminder of what we’re facing with COVID-19,” Souza says. “If President Obama had been president, he would have to deal with this crisis too. I mean, he couldn’t have stopped the coronavirus… he would’ve listened to the science and we would not be where we are today if President Obama had been president.”
In the rest of the video, you’ll see photographs you might not have even known were shot by Souza. Including one that you’ll have to watch the video to see—if you want the story of the time Saturday Night Fever-era John Travolta asked Princess Diana to dance with him. Stick around to the end if you want to hear Souza answer the big question: If Joe Biden won the presidency, would he bring his camera back to the White House?
“I really think it’s time for somebody else to do this job,” he says. “I had my shot. I did the best I could. I love Joe Biden. You know, obviously if he calls me I would talk to him. But I really don’t think I can put my family through this job again. Because for eight years, I essentially had no personal life. And I don’t know that I could do that again.”
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