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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Weekly Wrap Up: “This is Your Victory”

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Meet the Next White House Chief of Staff

President Barack Obama announces Denis McDonough as his Chief of Staff, Jan. 25, 2013

President Barack Obama announces Denis McDonough as his Chief of Staff, replacing Jack Lew, the President’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 25, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

President Obama today tapped Denis McDonough to serve as his Chief of Staff and lead the team at the White House.

McDonough, 43, was previously the Deputy National Security Advisor. He began his career as a staffer on Capitol Hill -- where he served in both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. In the White House, he previously served as the head of strategic communications for the National Security Council and as the NSS chief of staff.

"Denis has played a key role in every major national security decision of my presidency," the President said, "from ending the war in Iraq to winding down the war in Afghanistan; from our response to natural disasters around the world like Haiti and the tsunami in Japan to the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' to countless crises in between, day and night -- and that includes many nights. I’ve actually begun to think that Denis likes pulling all-nighters. The truth is nobody out-works Denis McDonough."

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President Obama Nominates Jacob Lew as Treasury Secretary

President Barack Obama announces Chief of Staff Jack Lew is his nominee for Treasury Secretary (January 10, 2013)

President Barack Obama announces Chief of Staff Jack Lew is his nominee for Treasury Secretary to replace Timothy Geithner, right, in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Today, in an event President Obama nominated Jacob Lew -- the current White House chief of staff -- to serve as the next Treasury Secretary.

"Over the past year, I’ve sought Jack’s advice on virtually every decision that I’ve made, from economic policy to foreign policy," the President said.

Jack Lew has decades of experience tackling some of the nation's toughest economic challenges. As director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton, Lew helped to negotiate the deal that balanced the federal budget -- and led to a budget surplus. In the Obama Administration, even before becoming chief of staff, he has helped to manage the day-to-day operations at the State Department and shepherd through the Budget Control Act to reduce federal spending in a second stint at OMB.

"One reason Jack has been so effective in this town is because he is a low-key guy who prefers to surround himself with policy experts rather than television cameras," said President Obama. "And over the years, he’s built a reputation as a master of policy who can work with members of both parties and forge principled compromises."

The President also offered his gratitude to his current Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner -- who helped to guide the country through the financial crisis and get the economy growing again.

"When the history books are written," he said, "Tim Geithner is going to go down as one of our finest Secretaries of the Treasury." 

Read the full remarks here, or watch the video of the event

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Update on Hurricane Sandy

President Barack Obama receives an update from officials via video teleconference on the ongoing response to Hurricane Sandy, in the Situation Room of the White House, Oct. 30, 2012. Pictured, from left, are: John Brennan, Assistant to the... Read more »