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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Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 States

This week, the President will visit South Dakota, marking the 50th state he has visited during his administration (as such, it's also my 50th state with him). To mark the occasion, I chose one photograph from each state that we’ve visited. This was not as easy as I thought it would be. With help from photo editor Phaedra Singelis, I tried to depict a variety of situations. Some are more lighthearted; some are sad, and some are poignant. Some are with the Vice President; some are with the First Lady, and a couple are with the entire family. A selection of photos are centered on policy, and others on politics. Some focus on the President as Commander-in-Chief -- others on his role as consoler for the nation.

I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned -- we’ll be adding a photograph from South Dakota following his visit there on Friday.

Alabama, March 7, 2015. Marching at the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Alabama, March 7, 2015. Marching at the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Alaska. Nov 12, 2009. Air Force One refueling at Elmendorf Air Force Base. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Alaska. Nov 12, 2009. Air Force One refueling at Elmendorf Air Force Base. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Arizona, Aug. 16, 2009. Viewing the Grand Canyon. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Arizona, Aug. 16, 2009. Viewing the Grand Canyon. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

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Weekly Wrap Up: September 6-12

This week, President Obama spoke about the threat posed by ISIL and commemorated the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we marked the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the First Lady hosted a "prep" rally in Atlanta.

Check out what else you may have missed this week in our weekly wrap up.

“If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

On Wednesday evening, from the State Floor of the White House, President Obama spoke to the American people about our comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

ISIL was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq and has since infiltrated territories on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. Although ISIL calls itself the “Islamic State,” the President highlighted that:

ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. ... It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates.

In his remarks, the President outlined the four key components of the United States’ strategy to defeat ISIL:

  1. We will work with the Iraqi government to conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against ISIL.
  2. We will increase support of forces fighting ISIL on the ground.
  3. We will work with our partners to continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks and sustain an effective long-term campaign against ISIL.
  4. We will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the innocent and vulnerable civilians displaced by ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

The President reiterated and assured the American people that “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

Watch the President’s full remarks on ISIL here.

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President Obama Provides an Update on the Latest in Iraq and Ferguson, Missouri

Watch on YouTube This afternoon at the White House, President Obama delivered a statement on the latest developments in Iraq and in Ferguson, Missouri — two issues he has been following closely each day. First, the President relayed to the natio... Read more »

Weekly Wrap Up: Iraq and Ferguson, Raising the Wage, and Modernizing Government

This week, President Obama gave updates on the continuing humanitarian crisis in Iraq and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri; the White House announced progress on raising the minimum wage; and the Administration launched the U.S. Digital Service to help modernize our government.

Check out what else you may have missed this week in our weekly wrap up.

A Statement on Iraq and Ferguson

Yesterday, President Obama delivered a statement about what's happening in Iraq. He said that although conditions are still dire for Iraqis who are "subjected to ISIL's terror throughout the country," the situation for civilians stranded on Mount Sinjar has "greatly improved and Americans should be very proud of our efforts."

Watch on YouTube

The President also spoke about the events in Ferguson, Missouri following the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. He called on the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney on the scene to work with local officials in making sure the investigation is open and transparent. "Now is the time for healing," he added.

I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened. There are going to be different accounts of how this tragedy occurred. There are going to be differences in terms of what needs to happen going forward. That’s part of our democracy. But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law; a basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest; a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us; and the need for accountability when it comes to our government.

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West Wing Week 08/15/14 or, “Mikey Goes to Washington”

Welcome to a special Summer Edition of the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the President focused on the developing situations both in Iraq and in our nation's heartland, in Ferguson, Missouri. Also, West Wing Week tagged along for the first few hours and days of one of the newest employees here at the White House, and for the launch of the newly created U.S. Digital Service. That's August 8-15 or, "Mikey Goes to Washington."

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The President Gives an Update on Iraq and the Situation in Ferguson, Missouri

President Barack Obama makes a statement on the situations in Iraq and Ferguson, Missouri, from Edgartown, Massachusetts

President Barack Obama makes a statement on the situations in Iraq and Ferguson, Missouri, from Edgartown, Massachusetts, August 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This afternoon, President Obama updated the nation on two issues that he's been monitoring closely over the past several days -- America's military operations in Iraq, and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.

Speaking first on Iraq, the President noted the progress the U.S. has made in carrying out "targeted military operations" in the country:

Last week, I authorized two limited missions:  protecting our people and facilities inside of Iraq, and a humanitarian operation to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians stranded on a mountain.

A week ago, we assessed that many thousands of Yezidi men, women and children had abandoned their possessions to take refuge on Mount Sinjar in a desperate attempt to avoid slaughter.  We also knew that ISIL terrorists were killing and enslaving Yezidi civilians in their custody, and laying siege to the mountain. Without food or water, they faced a terrible choice -- starve on the mountain, or be slaughtered on the ground.  That’s when America came to help.

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