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)

read more

Read more »

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)

read more

Read more »

The Incredible Kid-Ingenuity on Display at the 5th White House Science Fair

Today, the halls of the White House were packed with science projects -- robots, 3D-printed objects, computer programs, apps, and extraordinary scientific discoveries -- all built, invented, designed, and brought to fruition by students.

President Barack Obama greets Emily Bergenroth, Alicia Cutter, Karissa Cheng, Addy O’Neal, and Emery Dodson, all six-year-old Girl Scouts, from Tulsa, Oklahoma as he viewed their science exhibit during the 2015 White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, in the Red Room, March 23, 2015. The girls used Lego pieces and designed a battery-powered page turner to help people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

At the 5th annual White House Science Fair, President Obama welcomed more than 100 students from more than 30 states for a celebration and showcase of their truly remarkable achievmenets in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

As part of the Science Fair, approximately 35 student teams exhibited innovative projects -- including discoveries and insights in key areas such as disease diagnostics, clean energy, and information security -- as well as inventions ranging from the “why didn’t I think of that?” (automatic page-turner for people with arthritis) to the “who’d have ever thought that possible?” (a hiccup-curing lollipop!).

The President personally viewed some of these projects, marveling at the incredible ingenuity on display from student innovators across the country including some as young as six years old.

President Barack Obama talks with Sergio Corral and Isela Martinez while viewing science exhibits during the 2015 White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, in the State Dining Room, March 23, 2015. The two 17-year-old students are current leaders of the robotics program from Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Ariz., which was chronicled in the recent documentary "Underwater Dreams" where their under-served high school beat out MIT and other colleges in an underwater robotics competition. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy).

In remarks to an audience of science-fair participants, mentors, educators, and leaders in government, philanthropy, and the private sector, President Obama praised these extroadinary students:

“These young scientists and engineers teach us … how to question assumptions; to wonder why something is the way it is, and how we can make it better," the President said. "And they remind us that there’s always something more to learn, and to try, and to discover, and to imagine -- and that it’s never too early, or too late to create or discover something new." 

President Obama went on to describe how science shapes our world-view:

"That’s why we love science. It’s more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world, and to share this accumulated knowledge. It’s a mindset that says we that can use reason and logic and honest inquiry to reach new conclusions and solve big problems.”

POTUS Delivers remarks at 5th annual White House Science Fair

President Obama also announced a number of ambitious steps to continue to inspire young people like those at the Science Fair and ensure they are connected to the tools, resources, training, and mentors they need to achieve their STEM goals. Here are just some of the announcements the President made today:

  • A $150-million philanthropic effort to empower a diverse cadre of promising early-career scientists to stay on track to become scientific leaders of tomorrow
  • The $90-million Let Everyone Dream campaign to expand STEM opportunities to under-represented youth
  • A $25-million Department of Education competition to create science- and literacy-themed media that inspires students to explore
  • 120 universities and colleges committing to train 20,000 engineers to tackle the “Grand Challenges” of the 21st century
  • A coaltion of CEOs called Change the Equation committing to expand effective STEM programs to an additional 1.5 million students this year

All told, the steps launched today bring the Administration’s grand total up to $1 billion in commitments and in-kind support to advance the President’s Educate to Innovate campaign, which aims to inspire more girls and boys to excel in STEM subjects.

To highlight the theme of this year’s science fair -- Diversity and Inclusion in STEM -- Administration leaders hosted two roundtable discussions in which students shared stories about opportunities and challenges they face in STEM studies.

Kaitlin Reed demonstrates to President Barack Obama the attachable lever she developed that can make wheelchair movements easier and less tiring, during the 2015 White House Science Fair in the Blue Room, March 23, 2015. With Kaitlin is Mohammed Sayed, who developed a 3D-printed modular arm for his wheelchair that can be used as a food tray, camera tripod, rain canopy, laptop holder, and cup holder. The two 16-year-old students are from Massachusetts. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).
 

In the morning, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls Valerie Jarret, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Associate Director for Science Jo Handelsman, and OSTP Principal Assistant Director for Energy and Environment Tammy Dickinson met with all-star female students participating in this year’s White House Science Fair. There was a lively discussion of the changing image of women in STEM and the need for even more extraordinary female role models to step up and tell their STEM stories.

In the afternoon, Vice President Biden joined a group of students, teachers, and STEM advocates for a discussion on the importance of providing access to STEM education to all Americans, regardless of background. The Vice President -- joined by NFL player Victor Cruz and actress Cierra Ramirez -- talked with the students about the tremendous opportunities that are becoming available every day because of advances in science and technology. He closed reminding participants never to lose faith in their own abilities to shape the future.

It was a whirlwind day for science and engineering at the White House! Geeks descended upon 1600 Pennsylvania -- filling rooms and halls from the State Dining room to the East Garden -- and showcasing more discoveries, inventions, and bright ideas than ever before.

We can’t wait to keep track of where these incredible young innovators go next!

President Barack Obama hugs Emily Bergenroth, Alicia Cutter, Karissa Cheng, Addy O’Neal, and Emery Dodson, all six-year-old Girl Scouts, from Tulsa, Oklahoma after viewing their science exhibit during the 2015 White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, in the Red Room, March 23, 2015. The girls used Lego pieces and designed a battery-powered page turner to help people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
 

Becky Fried is Deputy Assistant Director for Strategic Communications at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Read more »

Active Monitoring and the Latest Steps in Our Response to Ebola

President Obama meets with Ebola Coordinator Ron Klain and Officials

President Barack Obama holds a meeting on Ebola with Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain and members of his team coordinating the government’s Ebola response, in the Oval Office. October 22, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The United States continues to lead a comprehensive effort enhance our preparedness to respond to Ebola here at home, while also tackling the epidemic at its source in West Africa. From helping hospitals improve training and care to coordinating and contributing significant resources to fight the disease at its source, the Administration is working to help keep Americans safe.

Today, President Obama met with Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain and Administration officials to discuss the latest steps we're taking to prevent the spread of Ebola here at home. One way is through active monitoring, a procedure the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in coordination with local health authorities, is putting in place to ensure travelers from the affected countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea will report their temperature and symptoms to health officials for 21 days. The CDC will work with state and local officials of six states -- New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Georgia, which are the destinations for the majority of travelers from the three countries -- to actively monitor them. 

read more

Read more »

Join Us to Celebrate Three Years of #JoiningForces

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden participate in a Joining Forces nurses event in the Irvine Auditorium at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa., April 11, 2012. Joing them on stage is Navy Lieutenant Commander Pam... Read more »

From the Archives: Presidential Commencement Addresses

Graduation season is here once again and many of us have enjoyed watching our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and friends accept their hard-earned diplomas. Occasionally a university is able to celebrate the accomplishments of their students with a commencement address delivered by the President of the United States. The holdings of the Presidential Libraries include many photographs and other records that commemorate these special events.

So what sort of wisdom does a President pass along to a graduating class as they prepare to enter the next chapter in their lives? When Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the Pennsylvania State University class of 1955, he focused on the important role education plays in our society: “The peoples of this earth share today a great aspiration. They all have a common dream of lasting peace with freedom and justice. But the realization of the dream calls for many types of cooperation based upon sympathetic and thorough mutual understanding. In turn, such understanding is dependent on education that produces disciplined thinking.”

Richard Nixon’s commencement address to the Air Force Academy on June 4, 1969 focused on upcoming events that would take us well beyond planet Earth: “Our current exploration of space makes the point vividly; here is testimony to man's vision and to man's courage. The journey of the astronauts is more than a technical achievement; it is a reaching out of the human spirit. It lifts our sights; it demonstrates that magnificent conceptions can be made real…when the first man stands on the moon next month every American will stand taller because of what he has done, and we should be proud of this magnificent achievement.”

read more

Read more »

West Wing Week: 05/24/13 or “Justice for Everybody”

This week, the President continued his Jobs & Opportunity tour, this time highlighting bold new efforts in education and manufacturing in Baltimore, gave the commencement address at Morehouse College, invited the President of Myanmar, eight immigra... Read more »

Vice President Biden Meets with Law Enforcement Officials in Philadelphia

Vice President Joe Biden holds a roundtable with law enforcement officials and members of congress on gun safety, at Girard College in Philadelphia, PA, Feb., 11, 2013. (Official White ... Read more »

West Wing Week: 01/18/13 or “#NowIsTheTime”

This week, President Hamid Karzai came to the White House, as did nine newly posted foreign ambassadors and the President held the final news conference of his first term before signing executive orders initiating 23 separate executive actions to preve... Read more »

West Wing Week: 12/14/12 or “True to Ourselves and Our History”

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, the First Family attended the annual Christmas in Washington concert, the Vice President talked #My2k over lunch with middle-class Americans and attended the Army Navy football game with Dr. Biden, while the President signed the Child Protection Act into law, visited the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant, joined conference calls with Latino leaders and Mayors, and invited regional television reporters to the White House for a series of interviews.

read more

Read more »