Pete Souza is the former chief official White House photographer and the former President himself wrote the forward to this big, beautiful coffee table book (10.4 x 1.2 x 12.5 inches, hardcover, with beautiful heavy pages.)
The photos move in chronological order, starting with Inauguration Day in the first term. But these just aren’t state photos, there are lots of intimate, family and personal photos that help create the Obama legacy in a most personal and profound way.
Souza is obviously a gifted photographer, he wouldn’t have gotten the gig nor held on to it for eight years otherwise. I have to say the photographs are spectacular, interesting and often visceral. Some will be familiar, like when the President bowed down to let the young African American boy touch his head, much like his own, and that devastating picture taken after Sandy Hook. But there are also some really fun photos, like the Obamas and friends watching a 3-D movie, with glasses on. There are photos of famous signings, parties, speeches and more, but I admit I most enjoyed the family photos and the less formal shots. Obama shooting hoops in the Department of Interior gymnasium; Bono playing guitar for the President and Alicia Keys in the private dining room; even the President and First Lady making an unannounced visit to Arlington National Cemetery and surprising a widow there.
There are interesting shots like Obama ducking under the ropes on the lawn to get back to the Oval Office. A shot of Obama sitting on the desk, meeting with three women on staff but all we see are their shoes. Obama racing the new Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough’s children down the Colonnade outside the White House. Obama throwing a football at Soldier Field, home of his beloved Chicago Bears, during a break at the NATO summit.
This is a book I wish I owned, but I borrowed a copy from my library. It is a beautiful homage to one of my favorite Presidents.
12/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
OBAMA: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT by Pete Souza. Little, Brown and Company (November 7, 2017). ISBN 978-0316512589. 352p.