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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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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On the Tragic Shootings in Ottawa, Canada:

Briefing the President on Shooting in Canada

Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, updates President Barack Obama on the shooting in Canada prior to his phone call with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Oct. 22, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

After speaking with Prime Minister Stephen Harper by phone, President Obama made the following statement on the tragic shootings in Ottawa, Canada:

"I had a chance to talk with Prime Minister Harper this afternoon. Obviously, the situation there is tragic. Just two days ago, a Canadian soldier had been killed in an attack. We now know that another young man was killed today. And I expressed on behalf of the American people our condolences to the family and to the Canadian people as a whole.

We don’t yet have all the information about what motivated the shooting. We don’t yet have all the information about whether this was part of a broader network or plan, or whether this was an individual or series of individuals who decided to take these actions. But it emphasizes the degree to which we have to remain vigilant when it comes to dealing with these kinds of acts of senseless violence or terrorism. And I pledged, as always, to make sure that our national security teams are coordinating very closely, given not only is Canada one of our closest allies in the world but they’re our neighbors and our friends, and obviously there’s a lot of interaction between Canadians and the United States, where we have such a long border.

And it’s very important I think for us to recognize that when it comes to dealing with terrorist activity, that Canada and the United States has to be entirely in sync. We have in the past; I’m confident we will continue to do so in the future.  And Prime Minister Harper was very appreciative of the expressions of concern by the American people. 

I had a chance to travel to the Parliament in Ottawa. I’m very familiar with that area and am reminded of how warmly I was received and how wonderful the people there were. And so obviously we’re all shaken by it, but we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that we’re standing side by side with Canada during this difficult time."

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