First, “reading” may be a little misleading. “Obama, An Intimate Portrait” is mostly photographs; over 300 of them, some never before published, culled from the nearly 2 million taken by Pete Souza, who was President Barack Obama‘s Official White House Photographer for the entire 8 years that Obama was in office. There’s a bit of reading; President Obama wrote the foreword, Souza the introduction and captions for each photograph. I feel that it’s an awesome collection of photos; historic, of course, but also intimate, as the title says. In addition to the shots in the oval office, the meetings, the speeches and various encounters with American and foreign dignitaries, there are also moments with his family and friends, surprise encounters with ordinary citizens, pickup basketball games with his buddies and his famous interactions with children.
Of course, since Barack Obama was America’s first African American president, it’s also an historic document, deserving of a place in the household of anyone wishing to visually preserve this history to which we all bear witness. It’s also very personal, given Pete Souza’s unique relationship with the Obama family.
Pete Souza, Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama, was also Director of the White House Photo Office and had previously been an assistant professor of photojournalism at Ohio University. He was also a freelance photographer for National Geographic and had served as Official White House Photographer for President Ronald Reagan. Pete was on assignment for the Chicago Tribune when he first met then freshman Senator Obama. He first photographed Barack on his very first day as a senator, on that assignment to document Barack’s first experiences in that office. Starting then, the two men formed a relationship beyond photographer and subject; a real friendship and an understanding that informs every photograph. His previous book, The Rise of Barack Obama, was a New York Times bestseller, documenting the President’s rise from junior senator through the historic 2008 Presidential primary elections. “Obama – An Intimate Portrait” published by Little, Brown and Company, continues the journey of a remarkable man, husband, father, President and an inspiring figure in US and world history. Good job, Pete!
by Jerry Wells