I remember telling Gibbs that to do the job, I needed to have access.
Access to everything. All the important stuff, the moments when decisions are made. Even if it was classified. On paper, the job is to visually document the president for history. But what, and how much, you photograph depends on each individual photographer. I thought I knew what I was in for.
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Previous presidential photographers had taken a lot of ceremonial pictures and few candid ones. Okamoto pushed the bar and photographed seemingly everything Johnson did. It sounds simple. But everything can change the moment a president sets foot in the Oval Office. I had a plan for how to make it work for both of us.
I would explain to him and everyone around him why I needed to be in every meeting, every day: it was my job to capture real moments for history. My job was to be the observer, not the participant. Easy, right? But it was damn hard.
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It is a job meant for someone with some experience, and a lot of youth and energy. Ideally someone in their mids, maybe earlys, tops. I started the job when I was Someone — I think it was Andy Card , White House chief of staff under George W Bush — once described working at the White House as trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose that never shuts off. Obama and I shared a lot of time together. It was 10 to 12 hours a day, five days a week and sometimes six or seven. I photographed every meeting, every day, every place he went to.
Nearly 1. All 50 states; more than 60 countries. Just shy of 2m photographs over eight years. Along the way, we became friends. How could you not when you share so much of life together? We played countless card games on long flights overseas. He called me Pete or later the Azorean, when he found out my ancestry, and I called him Mr President or, more often, Potus.
He poked fun at my age, my bald spot, the reptiles I kept at home.
And I saw what delighted him, what wore on him, what made him mad and what brought him peace. Did I ever get on his nerves? Did he get on mine? One learns to always say no. Now, I think back to that scene from January in the basement office on his second day as a US senator. So much has changed since then. Deep down, his core is the same. As a man.
Me and Barack Obama: eight years photographing the president
A father. A husband.
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Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading? I cared little for Mr. I cared that he had managed to build the domestic tranquillity that he lacked as a child. But here, in one sex scandal, he had blown it all up.
If a man of his abilities had done this, then what hope was there for me? I often wonder how many kids look at our current president the way I once looked at President Clinton. Barack Obama was elected during my second year of college, and save for his skin color, he had much in common with Bill Clinton: Despite an unstable life with a single mother, aided by two loving grandparents, he had made in his adulthood a family life that seemed to embody my sense of the American ideal.
I suspected that there were skeletons lurking in his closet, too. Surely this was a man with a secret sex addiction, or at least an alcohol problem. I secretly guessed that before the end of his term, some major personal scandal would reveal his family life to be a sham. I disagreed with many of his positions, so perhaps a dark part of me wanted such a scandal to come out. But it never came. He and his wife treated each other with clear love and respect, and he adored and cared for his children.
Whatever scars his childhood left, he refused to let those scars control him. I wanted so desperately to have what he had — a happy marriage and beautiful, thriving children.
https://jurumbsubsbar.tk But I thought that those things belonged to people unlike me, to those who came from money and intact nuclear families. For the rest of us, past was destiny. Yet here was the president of the United States, a man whose history looked something like mine but whose future contained something I wanted.