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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Asked and Answered: Hannah’s Song

This is the latest post in our "Asked and Answered" series, in which we periodically feature an exchange between the President -- or a Senior Administration Official -- and an American who wrote him. If you'd like to write the President yourself, you can do so here.

Meet Hannah, a rising 9th grader at Indian River High School in the North Country region of New York, home to many families from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum. As the daughter of Lt. Col. Todd E. Bajakian, former commander of Fort Drum’s Warriors in Transition Battalion, Hannah knows first-hand how important it is that we give our military families the support they need.

This past May at the White House’s annual Mother’s Day Tea, Hannah had the opportunity to meet the First Lady and give her the lyrics to her original song, “All On The Line.”

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Asked and Answered: A World War II Veteran Writes the President

We periodically feature an exchange between the President and an American who wrote him. Check back soon for more — and if you'd like to write the President yourself, you can do so here.

I work in the Office of Presidential Correspondence, and one of the most rewarding parts of my job is helping process correspondence from our nation’s veterans.

On the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day), I wanted to share with you one of the thousands of letters the President has received from WWII veterans and their families. The President was raised with the help of his grandparents — a veteran who served in the European Theater during WWII, and a Rosie the Riveter who worked on a bomber assembly line during the war. And I think partly for that reason, this mail always seems to really grab the President’s attention.

Below is one of these letters. World War II veteran Ernest Lovato of Albuquerque, New Mexico wrote the President to thank him for a visit to the Southwest, and shared photos of two of the B-17 Flying Fortresses he painted while serving in the Army Air Corps' 100th Bombardment Group. The President responded — and he included a photograph of his own.

Today, as we watch World War II-era planes fly over the White House in honor of the anniversary of V-E Day, we pay tribute to all those like Mr. Lovato and the President’s grandmother, who helped build and maintain these planes helping lead the Allied forces to victory. And we solemnly remember all those we lost, remaining deeply humbled by all those who served.

Take a look at Mr. Lovato's letter, and the amazing photos he enclosed — including the B-17s he painted during WWII and the charming photo from his wedding day 72 years ago:

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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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Follow Along: Earth Day 2015

It's Earth Day -- and all day long, we'll be keeping you updated right here with videos, photos, and opportunities to add your voice to the #ActOnClimate conversation. Follow along here for highlights from the President's trip to the Everglades -- and speak up on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #ActOnClimate. We'll be reading and sharing what we hear from you.

Here's what we've got on tap for the day:

This morning, the President is heading to the Florida Everglades along with Bill Nye the Science Guy and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

Heading down to DC to catch an #EarthDay flight on Air Force One tomorrow with the President. We're going to #ActOnClimate.

— Bill Nye (@BillNye) April 21, 2015

At 2:30 p.m. ET, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will hold a Twitter Q&A on Latino public health.

Climate change is impacting our health. Join @GinaEPA, @EnvDefenseFund & @LULAC for a chat at 3:30pm ET tomorrow. #EarthDay #LatinoHealth

— U.S. EPA (@EPA) April 21, 2015

At 3:55 p.m. ET, the President will deliver remarks at Everglades National Park on the threat climate change poses to our economy and the world.

President Obama is headed to @EvergladesNPS on #EarthDay to discuss the need to #ActOnClimate: http://t.co/k8fbW7HGUM pic.twitter.com/sNfDvBi9WM

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 20, 2015

 

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“It’s Time to Go Fly”: Successful Launch of Orion Heralds First Step on Journey to Mars

Ed. note: This post is written by NASA's Steven Siceloff. You can read the original post here.

Orion Launches on First Steps to Mars

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, with NASA's Orion spacecraft mounted atop, lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 37 at at 7:05 a.m. EST. December 5, 2014. (by Bill Ingalls/NASA)

NASA marked a critical step on the journey to Mars with its Orion spacecraft during a roaring liftoff into the dawn sky over eastern Florida on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket.

Once on its way, the Orion spacecraft accomplished a series of milestones as it jettisoned a set of fairing panels around the service module before the launch abort system tower pulled itself away from the spacecraft as planned.

The spacecraft and second stage of the Delta IV rocket settled into an initial orbit about 17 minutes after liftoff. Flight controllers put Orion into a slow roll to keep its temperature controlled while the spacecraft flew through a 97-minute coast phase.

The cone-shaped spacecraft did not carry anyone inside its cabin but is designed to take astronauts farther into space than ever before in the future.

Orion's first flight test is expected to be one for the books: the first mission since Apollo to carry a spacecraft built for humans to deep space, the first time NASA's next-generation spacecraft is tested against the challenges of space, and the first operational test of a heat shield strong enough to protect against 4,000-degree temperatures.

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5 Things to Know: The President Lays Out the U.S. Plan to Degrade and Destroy ISIL

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President Obama travelled to Tampa, Florida to speak to service men and women at MacDill Air Force Base about the U.S. strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, a terrorist organization that is killing innocent, unarmed civilians  in both Iraq and Syria. ISIL, also known as ISIS or the Islamic State, is also responsible for the brutal murders of American journalists Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.

"In a world where technology provides a small group of killers with the ability to do terrible harm, it is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists,” he told servicemembers. To effectively do so, the U.S. will execute a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy that will empower the international community and local leaders to decimate these terrorists. 

"If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven."

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Vice President Biden Congratulates Winners of National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

Vice President Joe Biden speaks to the 2014 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition Champions from the University of Central Florida, in the Indian Treaty Room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in Washington, D.C., August ... Read more »

The President and First Lady Speak at the Disabled American Veterans National Convention

On Saturday, the President and First Lady spoke at the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Convention in Orlando, FL. Founded in September of 1920, the DAV celebrates 92 years of service to disabled veterans and their families with this three-day... Read more »

State and Local Officials in the South Speak Up to Fix the Broken Immigration System

Ed. note: This post is the first in a series of five. Check back on the White House Blog throughout the week for more statements from leaders around the country.

Across the country, Democratic and Republican state and local officials are speaking out about the need for commonsense immigration reform. This week, we’ll share thoughts from governors, mayors, county executives, state legislators, attorneys general, treasurers and more about why they support immigration reform and how fixing the broken immigration system would impact their communities.

“For too many years our country has struggled to find an effective solution to immigration reform, with the central issue being the question of how to deal with undocumented workers.  We have been encouraged, however, that in recent months a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators has been working together to establish a path that allows those workers, the great majority of whom are hard-working dignified individuals, to become lawful tax-payers.  It is important for the continued growth and competitiveness of our country that we find a solution to this issue, and I urge Congress to continue working together to establish a fair, but humane, solution that establishes such a path.”

Miami-Dade, Florida Mayor Carlos Gimenez

“There is no doubt that the economic, social and cultural contributions of immigrants continue to enrich our cities and communities. We cannot ever forget that immigrants have helped make our nation stronger. This is an issue of great importance here in Georgia, and as such, I support President Barack Obama’s proposal to achieve meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform.”

Atlanta, Georgia Mayor Kasim Reed

“In Birmingham, we recognize the value of diversity. We strive to be inclusive and to give a sense of respect for all cultures and all races. Here in the cradle of the Civil Rights struggle, our history mandates that we embrace all cultures and ensure that all are treated equally and fairly and with the honor they deserve.”

Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell

“Louisville is a growing international city in the heartland of America. Comprehensive immigration reform is essential for us to spur entrepreneurism and grow jobs. America's population represents all of the immigrants of the world. The quicker immigration reform is addressed and resolved, the quicker our international competitive economic advantage will accelerate.”

Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer

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