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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Uniting in Support of Broadband that Works

“21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure -- modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains, and the fastest internet.” “I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every commu... Read more »

Bipartisan Support for Immigration Reform Strengthens During August Recess

As members of Congress go home to their districts for the August recess, they are hearing directly from Americans of all political stripes who are calling for a vote on commonsense immigration reform. In hundreds of town hall meetings, business roundtables, vigils, pilgrimages and rallies across the country, supporters of immigration reform including evangelicals, business owners, labor and law enforcement leaders, are asking their representatives to pass legislation to fix our broken immigration system as soon as they return to Washington in September.

Pro-reform supporters are making waves across the country as they continue to build momentum for immigration reform. The broad coalition of constituents who support reform is stronger and more bipartisan than ever. They have a clear message: Congress must work to fix our immigration system as soon as members return to the Capitol this fall.

In a meeting last week with the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, Representative Jeff Denham, a Republican lawmaker from California, expressed his support for moving commonsense immigration reform legislation in the House: “I thought we'd get this done before the August work period. I think the Senate made tremendous progress. It was done bipartisan [sic] and I thought that would be enough to get the House moving forward."

Both Senator Richard Durbin and Representative Bill Foster, Democratic lawmakers from Illinois, met with local Aurora business and community leaders to talk about the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform bill, describing it as a “compromise” and stating that comprehensive legislation must include a “tough but fair” path to citizenship.

During a discussion with other Republican governors in Aspen, Colorado during the last week of July, Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie voiced support for immigration reform “Allowing the system to continue in the broken way that it is now is negative for America’s economy and it’s also bad for these folks who now have had children in this country and some of them grandchildren in this country," which demonstrates that support for immigration reform comes from both sides of the political aisle.

This is just a snapshot of the meetings that lawmakers are having with their constituents all over the U.S – the message is clear, a majority of Americans want to see their Representative address the issue of immigration reform. 

Events discussing the positive economic benefits for immigration reform continue to take place across the country. Just today, the Bibles, Badges and Business kicked off a South by Southwest (SXSW) conference with a panel of CEOs to discuss the importance of immigration reform to the business community. This panel, attended by over 1,500 tech entrepreneurs is part of an ongoing discussion on how immigration reform will help grow our economy and create jobs.   

The White House and the Administration are also part of the growing chorus of voices making the case for commonsense immigration reform. Last week, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker hosted a roundtable with business leaders in Des Moines, Iowa to highlight the economic benefits of fixing our immigration system.

This summer, the White House released a series of reports that add to the mounting evidence demonstrating that fixing our immigration system and creating an earned path to citizenship would add a big boost to our economy, strengthen Social Security, and modernize our legal immigration system to make it more consistent with our values. Reports include the economic case for immigration reform, detailing how it impacts each state as well as the agricultural community.

As support continues to grow from the American people, the White House and the President will support bipartisan efforts in the House of Representatives to pass this commonsense legislation as soon as possible.



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Weekly Wrap Up: Dream Day

Here's a quick glimpse at what happened this week on NASA Success: On Monday, President Obama congratulated NASA’s Curiosity Team on the success of their rover touching down on the surface of Mars, praising th... Read more »