Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 Countries

Today, President Obama visits Kenya — the 50th country he has visited during his Administration. It’s also my 50th country traveling with the President.

To mark the occasion, as I did when the President visited his 50th state, I chose one photograph from each country that we’ve visited.

Traveling abroad with the President is very different.

Often times, I am at the mercy of the host country for access. Some countries are more accommodating to me than others. I am lucky to have counterpart official photographers in many countries who are extremely helpful to me in this regard. I of course try to return the help to them when they visit the White House with their head of state.

We’re also rarely in any one country for more than a couple of days, which gives us only a partial glimpse of each place. And because of security, the sites we are able to visit are often limited too.

All that said, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to visit the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, the Great Wall in China, Petra in Jordan, and the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar (Burma). (So I really shouldn’t complain too much.)

I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned — we’ll be adding a photograph from Kenya and additionally, Ethiopia, following his visit next week.

Afghanistan, 2012

Boarding Air Force One at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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West Wing Week 08/01/14 or, “A Walk Down Main St.”

This week, the President hosted the inaugural Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, reaffirmed America's commitment to Ukraine, and continued responding to Americans' letters - this time in Kansas City.

Friday, July 25th

·    The President and Vice President hosted Presidents Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, and Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador to discuss how the United States and Central American governments are cooperating to disrupt smuggling organizations and promote safe, legal, and orderly migration.

·    The President spoke to the American Legion Boys and Girls Nation in the East Room, where he was serenaded ahead of his birthday, and took a photo with the group of budding American leaders.

·    At the end of the day, the President dropped by the Vice President's office to meet the nation's oldest living female veteran, 108 year-old Lucy Coffey.


Monday, July 28th

·      During a town hall with 500 young African leaders, President Obama announced the expansion of his Young African Leaders Initiative, which helps the United States invest in the next generation of African leaders.  The event served as a lead-up to next week’s inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

·      The President presented the 2013 National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to 22 recipients during a ceremony in the East Room.  The National Medal of Arts is the government’s highest award given to artists and arts patrons for their outstanding contributions and broadened our citizens' engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects.


Tuesday, July 29th

·      The President stopped by the East Room to extend his gratitude to the White House summer interns for their service dedication to his administration.

·      The President delivered a statement on the South Lawn concerning American diplomatic support for Ukraine and its sovereignty.

·      The President then boarded Air Force One for a trip to Kansas City, where he ate dinner with a group of Americans who wrote to him concerning the struggles they face.


Wednesday, July 30th

·      The President delivered remarks on the economy at the Uptown Theatre in Kansas City.

·      The President took a walk down Main Street in Parkville, Missouri, to visit with locals and shop owners before returning to Washington.


Thursday, July 31st

·    The President signed an Executive Order on Fair Pay and a Safe Workplace, which requires prospective federal contractors to disclose labor law violations and gives guidance on how to consider these violations when awarding federal contracts.

·    Then he invited this year's five Kavli Prize laureates into the Oval Office to honor them for their achievements in Astrophysics, Nanoscience Neuroscience.

·    The President congratulated the outgoing Secretary of the Department of Housing and Development, Shaun Donovan, on his new post at the White House's Office of Management and Budget, and honored HUD's new secretary, Julian Castro.

·    That evening, the President and First Lady commemorated the Special Olympics with a celebration in the East Room.

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