President Barack Obama’s former White House chief photographer is still trolling President Trump. Or, as he would prefer it, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Pete Souza — who has garnered a cult following among his 1.6 million Instagram followers for his photos, political commentary and not-so-subtle photographic shade of the current administration — avoided name-checking the current commander in chief during a talk for his new book, “Obama: An Intimate Portrait,” at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue on Monday night.
But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. And Souza’s photographs speak volumes.
A photographic fly on the wall during Obama’s most intimate meetings and moments, Souza estimates that he snapped around 1.9 million images over the course of the administration. “I asked for access to everything he did, and he essentially granted that to me,” he told the audience.
To capture the most intimate moments, Souza would often sleep in his office. That’s how he ended up at HQ early enough to get morning shots of Obama interacting with his family, including one blistering winter Saturday in 2010 when Souza’s lens caught a seemingly carefree Obama playing with daughters Sasha and Malia in the snow.
People are always asking me to choose my favorite picture of the President. But I just can't do it. So let me tell you about my favorite day. It was a Saturday in February 2010. Washington was under siege with snow. I slept in my office overnight, knowing I probably couldn't drive to the White House the next day. And then I guessed…and yes, hoped…that the President of the United States would be a dad and play with his girls in the snow. And he did. Two more pictures will follow.
But on the subject of the current administration, Souza remains mum. His camera (and Instagram posts) do the talking. Obama fans in the audience (so everyone?) cheered loudly as a certain photograph — an image of Obama speaking somewhat authoritatively to Russian President Vladimir Putin — popped up on the projected screen.
“This is how you should talk to the Russians,” Mr. Souza quipped, eliciting what was perhaps the largest applause of the night.
A handful of Obama alums were also on hand to toast their former 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. colleague, including former White House adviser Ben Rhodes; Reggie Love, Obama’s former “body man”; and past assistant social secretary Samantha Tubman.
Obama, although not in attendance, contributed a handwritten foreword to the book. “Over the course of eight years in the White House, I probably spent more time with Pete Souza than with anybody other than my family,” he wrote, later adding: “He became a friend, a confidant, and a brother.”