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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Weekly Wrap Up: A Look at Our Week

This week at the White House, the President updated the nation on our government-wide response to Ebola, we discussed efforts against ISIL with our international efforts, and the First Lady asked, “Turnip for What?” 

Photo of the Week

 

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President Obama talks on the phone with HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell concerning the latest update on the Ebola situation.

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We Continued to Respond to Ebola

On Wednesday, the President met with Cabinet officials and Dr. Tom Frieden -- of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- in the Cabinet Room of the White House. 
 
After the meeting, President Obama laid out our comprehensive plan to contain Ebola, prevent its spread in the United States, and combat it at its source in West Africa.
 
Have questions about how exactly the disease spread? We’ve got the facts:
  • Ebola cannot be spread through the air, water, or food in the U.S. You cannot contract Ebola through casual contact with someone who has no symptoms. 
  • Ebola can only be contracted through bodily fluids, contaminated objects, or infected animals.
  • Ebola only spreads when people are showing symptoms. 
Now that you’ve got the key facts, pass it on to someone else who needs to know

Worth sharing: Here are the facts on #Ebola, and what we're doing to respond → http://t.co/RMFwal2IB8 pic.twitter.com/UJLnOsP7RV

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 16, 2014

Today, the President appointed Ron Klain to coordinate the government’s comprehensive response to Ebola. Mr. Klain has served as Chief of Staff to two Vice Presidents, and his talent and managerial skills extend far beyond the White House. He has a great working relationship with leading Members of Congress and brings extensive intergovernmental operations experience to the job.

We Joined International Military Leaders to Discuss Efforts Against ISIL

On Tuesday, President Obama headed to Joint Base Andrews to meet with military leaders from over 20 partner nations and discuss coalition efforts to ultimately degrade and destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
 
At the meeting, hosted by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Dempsey, the President reiterated that: 
  • The U.S. will take action against targets in both Iraq and Syria, so ISIL cannot find safe haven anywhere.
  • The U.S. will act as part of a broad international coalition, because this is not our fight alone.
President Obama meets with more than 20 foreign chiefs of defense to discuss coalition efforts in the campaign against ISIL

President Barack Obama participates in a meeting hosted by Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with more than 20 foreign chiefs of defense to discuss the coalition efforts in the ongoing campaign against ISIL. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, Commander, U.S. Central Command also participates in the meeting at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Oct. 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

FLOTUS asked: “Turnip for What?”

On Tuesday, the First Lady hosted her very first Vine and Twitter Q & A to answer questions about Let's Move! before welcoming students to the White House for the annual fall harvest. During the Q & A, the First Lady answered a range of questions – including healthy Halloween ideas, her favorite fall vegetables, the status of the White House bees, and asked, turnip for what?

Take a look at the full Q & A on Storify, and be sure to follow Mrs. Obama on Twitter and Instagram for additional updates.

Want to see even more? Be sure to check out the White House Blog, this week's episode of West Wing Week, and the White House's official Twitter account:

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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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Weekly Wrap Up: #ItsOnUs

This week, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and Army Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat, met with National Spelling Bee winners, announced a major increase in our efforts to help fight Ebola in Wes... Read more »

Weekly Wrap Up: September 6-12

This week, President Obama spoke about the threat posed by ISIL and commemorated the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we marked the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the First Lady hosted a "prep" rally in Atlanta.

Check out what else you may have missed this week in our weekly wrap up.

“If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

On Wednesday evening, from the State Floor of the White House, President Obama spoke to the American people about our comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

ISIL was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq and has since infiltrated territories on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. Although ISIL calls itself the “Islamic State,” the President highlighted that:

ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. ... It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates.

In his remarks, the President outlined the four key components of the United States’ strategy to defeat ISIL:

  1. We will work with the Iraqi government to conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against ISIL.
  2. We will increase support of forces fighting ISIL on the ground.
  3. We will work with our partners to continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks and sustain an effective long-term campaign against ISIL.
  4. We will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the innocent and vulnerable civilians displaced by ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

The President reiterated and assured the American people that “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

Watch the President’s full remarks on ISIL here.

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President Obama Provides an Update on the Latest in Iraq and Ferguson, Missouri

Watch on YouTube This afternoon at the White House, President Obama delivered a statement on the latest developments in Iraq and in Ferguson, Missouri — two issues he has been following closely each day. First, the President relayed to the natio... Read more »

From the Archives: Air Force One and Presidential Air Travel

Click here to see the photo gallery.   The President of the United States must be ready to travel anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice. Fortunately, modern Presidents have access to a variety of transportation options, including ... Read more »

Weekly Wrap Up: Iraq and Ferguson, Raising the Wage, and Modernizing Government

This week, President Obama gave updates on the continuing humanitarian crisis in Iraq and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri; the White House announced progress on raising the minimum wage; and the Administration launched the U.S. Digital Service to help modernize our government.

Check out what else you may have missed this week in our weekly wrap up.

A Statement on Iraq and Ferguson

Yesterday, President Obama delivered a statement about what's happening in Iraq. He said that although conditions are still dire for Iraqis who are "subjected to ISIL's terror throughout the country," the situation for civilians stranded on Mount Sinjar has "greatly improved and Americans should be very proud of our efforts."

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The President also spoke about the events in Ferguson, Missouri following the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. He called on the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney on the scene to work with local officials in making sure the investigation is open and transparent. "Now is the time for healing," he added.

I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened. There are going to be different accounts of how this tragedy occurred. There are going to be differences in terms of what needs to happen going forward. That’s part of our democracy. But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law; a basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest; a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us; and the need for accountability when it comes to our government.

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West Wing Week 08/15/14 or, “Mikey Goes to Washington”

Welcome to a special Summer Edition of the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the President focused on the developing situations both in Iraq and in our nation's heartland, in Ferguson, Missouri. Also, West Wing Week tagged along for the first few hours and days of one of the newest employees here at the White House, and for the launch of the newly created U.S. Digital Service. That's August 8-15 or, "Mikey Goes to Washington."

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