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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President Obama: “Our Fight Against Violent Extremism”

Ed. Note: The following op-ed by President Obama appeared in the Los Angeles Times this morning.

The United States has made significant gains against terrorism. We've decimated the core al Qaeda leadership, strengthened homeland security and worked to prevent another large-scale attack like 9/11.

At the same time, the threat has evolved. The al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen actively plots against us. Since 9/11, terrorists have murdered U.S. citizens overseas, including in the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Here in the United States, Americans have been killed at Ft. Hood and during the Boston Marathon.

Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds.

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An “Experiment” in Universal Child Care in the United States: Lessons from the Lanham Act

In Richmond, California in 1943, approximately 35 nursery school units opened up as part of a city-wide child care program.  The country was mobilizing around World War II and increasing employment, particularly among women, had become a national... Read more »

President Obama Speaks at the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Dedication

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This afternoon, President Obama spoke at the dedication for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, honoring heroes who have sacrificed on behalf of our nation.

In his remarks, the President made clear that we must provide proper care for our veterans, noting: "When our wounded veterans set out on that long road of recovery, we need to move heaven and earth to make sure they get every single benefit, every single bit of care that they have earned, that they deserve."

"To every wounded warrior, to every disabled veteran -- thank you," he said.

President Obama detailed what the memorial dedication means for our Veterans fighting to recover from the battlefield, and how critical the sacrifices of our Veterans have been:

So, today, we take another step forward. With this memorial we commemorate, for the first time, the two battles our disabled veterans have fought -- the battle over there, and the battle here at home -- your battle to recover, which at times can be even harder, and certainly as longer. You walk these quiet grounds -- pause by the pictures of these men and women, you look into their eyes, read their words -- and we’re somehow able to join them on a journey that speaks to the endurance of the American spirit. And to you, our veterans and wounded warriors, we thank you for sharing your journey with us. 

Here we feel your fears -- the shock of that first moment when you realized something was different; the confusion about what would come next; the frustrations and the worries -- as one veteran said -- "that maybe I wouldn’t be quite the same."

And then here we see your resolve -- your refusal, in the face of overwhelming odds, to give in to despair or to cynicism; your decision, your choice, to overcome. Like the veteran who said, "It’s possible for a man to lose half his physical being and still become whole."

The President also highlighted the obligation we have as a country to continue to honor and support our veterans:

Here, in the heart of our nation’s capital, this memorial is a challenge to all of us -- a reminder of “the obligations this country is under.” And if we are to truly honor these veterans, we must heed the voices that speak to us here. Let’s never rush into war -- because it is America’s sons and daughters who bear the scars of war for the rest of their lives. Let us only send them into harm’s way when it’s absolutely necessary. And if we do, let’s always give them the strategy, the mission, and the support that they need to get the job done. When the mission is over -- and as our war in Afghanistan comes to a responsible end in two months -- let us stand united as Americans and welcome our veterans home with the thanks and respect they deserve.

Read the President's full remarks here.

 
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President Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Father Emil Kapaun

President Obama embraces Ray Kapaun after presenting him with the Medal of Honor awarded to his uncle, Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun, April 11, 2013.

President Barack Obama embraces Ray Kapaun after presenting him with the Medal of Honor awarded posthumously to his uncle, Chaplain (Captain) Emil J. Kapaun, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, April 11, 2013. Chaplain Kapaun was awarded the medal for his extraordinary heroism while serving with the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea and as a prisoner of war from November 1-2, 1950. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today in the East Room, President Obama told the story of Emil Kapaun, an Army Chaplain from Kansas who served in the US Army during the Korean War. It's a powerful story, and probably best told in the President's own words

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Virginia-Care: Keeping Health Insurance Costs Down for a Small Businesses

Ed. Note: This was originally published on Healthcare.gov Virginia Donohue and her husband started Pet Camp in 1997 with a love of their dogs and little else. Located in San Francisco, California, they provided group play, open spaces, and a pool. ... Read more »