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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West Wing Week: 07/17/15 or, “Barack-amole”

This week, the President secured a historic nuclear deal with Iran, traveled to Oklahoma to highlight the administration's work on criminal justice reform and the ConnectHome Initiative, designated three national monuments, spoke at the White House Conference on Aging and dropped by the Kids' "State Dinner."

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National Jewish American Heritage Month: What It Means to Be Part of the Jewish American Community

Jewish American values are woven into the fabric of American life and have shaped the progress we’ve made as a country. That history has fundamentally shaped the President’s personal views and leadership. As he told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg: 

"To me, being pro-Israel and pro-Jewish is part and parcel with the values that I've been fighting for since I was politically conscious and started getting involved in politics. There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law."

Today at 11:00 am ET, in honor of National Jewish American Heritage Month, President Obama will address the Adas Israel congregation in Washington, D.C., the first synagogue in the U.S. to be addressed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Watch his remarks live:

But before he speaks, he will meet with a few leaders in of the Jewish faith, who help tell our American story. See what these remarkable individuals have to say about the Jewish American heritage:

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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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West Wing Week: 1/30/15 or, “Namaste Obama”

This week, the President made history by being the first sitting President to make a second visit to India. He and the First Lady also traveled to Saudi Arabia to pay their respects to the late King. And back at home, the President convened a meeting with U.S. mayors and honored outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. That's January 23 to January 29 or, "Namaste Obama."

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This Week in History: How Our National Anthem Was Born

Frances Scott Key was a 35-year-old Washington lawyer who'd been opposed to America's entry into the War of 1812 from the beginning. But on the evening of September 13, 1814, he found himself watching as a prisoner on a sailing ship deck as the ships of the world's mightiest navy rained shot and shell down on Fort McHenry, a small fort protecting the city of Baltimore.

The British, having set Washington on fire and raided Alexandria, began heading north toward Baltimore, where they met a Royal Navy fleet headed in from the Chesapeake Bay. They launched their bombardment in the rain.

A view of the bombardment of fort mchenry

This colored etching, depicting the bombardment of Fort McHenry, was created in Philadelphia around 1816. (Photo courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society)

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On Earth Day, a Commitment to Climate Action

Forty-five years ago, an oil well being drilled off the coast of Santa Barbara, California blew out. At the time, it was the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Forty-five years ago, too, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, caught fire—again. Ci... Read more »

President Obama: The Best Chance We’ve Had in Years to Fix Our Broken Immigration System

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on immigration reform in the East Room of the White House, June 11, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) Today, President Oba... 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: 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.

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