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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From the Archives: Presidential Commencement Addresses

Graduation season is here once again and many of us have enjoyed watching our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and friends accept their hard-earned diplomas. Occasionally a university is able to celebrate the accomplishments of their students with a commencement address delivered by the President of the United States. The holdings of the Presidential Libraries include many photographs and other records that commemorate these special events.

So what sort of wisdom does a President pass along to a graduating class as they prepare to enter the next chapter in their lives? When Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the Pennsylvania State University class of 1955, he focused on the important role education plays in our society: “The peoples of this earth share today a great aspiration. They all have a common dream of lasting peace with freedom and justice. But the realization of the dream calls for many types of cooperation based upon sympathetic and thorough mutual understanding. In turn, such understanding is dependent on education that produces disciplined thinking.”

Richard Nixon’s commencement address to the Air Force Academy on June 4, 1969 focused on upcoming events that would take us well beyond planet Earth: “Our current exploration of space makes the point vividly; here is testimony to man's vision and to man's courage. The journey of the astronauts is more than a technical achievement; it is a reaching out of the human spirit. It lifts our sights; it demonstrates that magnificent conceptions can be made real…when the first man stands on the moon next month every American will stand taller because of what he has done, and we should be proud of this magnificent achievement.”

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President Obama Nominates Senator John Kerry to Serve as Secretary of State

President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Sen. John Kerry to serve as Secretary of State (December 21, 2012)

President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Sen. John Kerry, right, to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 21, 2012. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, watch at left. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

This afternoon, speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, President Obama nominated Senator John Kerry to serve as Secretary of State.

"Over these many years, John has earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world," the President said. "He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training. He has earned the respect and trust of his Senate colleagues, Democrats and Republicans. I think it’s fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers, or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry. And this makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead."

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Weekly Wrap Up: “Our Journey Is Never Hopeless, Our Work Is Never Done”

Watch the West Wing Week here. Here’s a quick glimpse at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov: Honoring the Memory of César Chávez: On Monday, President Obama honored César Chávez, one of America’s great ci... Read more »

President Obama Discusses the Attack in Benghazi, Libya

President Barack Obama, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, delivers a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sept. 12, 2012, regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (Official White House Photo ... Read more »