The President's Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office

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9781426206764: The President's Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office
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This behind-the-scenes look at the lives of our recent Commanders in Chief features the images and recollections of the nine professionals who have served as official White House photographers, including Pete Souza, the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama and previously an Official White House Photographer for President Reagan. The President's Photographer is the intimate story of the men and women who are both visual historians and key links between the public and the Presidents. 

Five of the nine Official White House Photographers are alive today, and in rare personal interviews, they recount the stories behind the remarkable photographs. Expressive close-ups of presidents reveal moments of joy, reflection, and turmoil over public issues and private challenges. Unexpected angles cast new light on historic events. Through both iconic and little-known images, this book offers a fresh perspective on life and work behind the famous facade of the White House.

The President's Photographer is the official companion book to the National Geographic Channel special that aired in November 2010.

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From The President's Photographer
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National Geographic has been giving custom map cabinets to U.S. presidents since shortly after the start of World War II, when the Society presented one of the finely crafted pieces to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. On June 10, 2009, the tradition continued. "The Obama family loves maps," the President said. (Pete Souza/The White House) Cecil Stoughton’s photographic coverage evolved from making the typical ceremonial images of previous administrations to documentary-style pictures like this one of John F. Kennedy and his daughter, Caroline, aboard a yacht in Hyannis Port, Mass., in August 1963. (Cecil Stoughton, White House/JFK Library, Boston, p. 8) Cecil Stoughton’s images of the trip to Texas by John F. Kennedy provide key beats in the story on the fateful day of the assassination. Later, Stoughton made perhaps the most famous--and most important--image ever taken by a presidential photographer as LBJ is sworn in on Air Force One. (Cecil Stoughton, White House/JFK Library, Boston p. 57) David Hume Kennerly made this picture the day before the Carters moved into the White House. Taking a last tour of the West Wing, Betty Ford told him she’d always wanted to dance on the Cabinet Room table. A former Martha Graham dancer, she slipped off her shoes, hopped on the table and struck a pose. (David Hume Kennerly/Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library p. 133)

A number of Bob McNeely’s images show President Clinton and the First Lady fully engaged on issues together, as in this moment when they are listening to a briefing on board Air Force One. (Robert McNeely/William J. Clinton Presidential Library, p. 209) George W. Bush chief photographer Eric Draper’s images from 9/11 tell a riveting story. He described it as one of his hardest days as a photographer. Desperate for information that morning, President Bush takes notes while TV news coverage of the burning towers plays in the background. (Eric Draper/ George W. Bush Presidential Library, p. 172) Considered by many to be one of his iconic images--so far--Pete Souza captured a private moment between President Obama and the First Lady on a freight elevator in Washington’s convention center, Inaugural night 2009. (Pete Souza, The White House, p. 6) President Obama has said this is one of his favorite photos. White House staffer Carlton Philadelphia brought his family in to meet the President, and at one point, his son declared that he’d been told that he and the President had the same haircut. President Obama bent over so the child could get a better look. (Pete Souza, The White House, p. 24)

About the Author:

John Bredar is an award-winning television producer who currently serves as WGBH’s vice president for national programming. Prior to this role, he worked for 26 years at National Geographic, where he produced more than 25 films exploring topics from cockroaches and black widow spiders to sumo wrestlers and combat cameramen. In 2005, Bredar received the Emmy for Best Director for the National Geographic special Arlington: Field of Honor, an unprecedented and poignant look at Arlington National Cemetery. He holds a master's degree in US diplomatic history from Johns Hopkins University. To learn more, follow @bredarj on Twitter.

Pete Souza was named President Barack Obama's White House photographer in January 2009. Prior to this, he was a photojournalism professor at Ohio University and a photojournalist for the Chicago Tribune. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling The Rise of Barack Obama and Obama: An Intimate Portrait. To learn more, visit petesouza.com or follow @PeteSouza on Twitter.

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