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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Travel Journal of the Vice President’s Trip to Morocco, Ukraine, Turkey:

Welcome to your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden’s three-country, five-day visit to Morocco, Ukraine, and Turkey.

November 22-23, 2014   Vice President Biden Wraps Up His Trip in Turkey

The Vice President wrapped up his three-country trip last week with a visit to Istanbul, Turkey.

The Vice President had an opportunity to meet individually with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. At these meetings, the Vice President and the leaders discussed a range of important bilateral issues:

Fighting ISIL in Syria and Iraq Coping with the regional humanitarian crisis Countering the threat posed by foreign fighters Promoting the Cyprus settlement process

“And the one thing that is absolutely clear is that the depth of that friendship and the resolve of that partnership is as strong as it has ever been,” Vice President said after meeting with President Erdogan. “In spite of the fact that the world is facing and we collectively are facing some difficult problems right now.”

The Vice President also addressed the Atlantic Council Economic and Energy Summit, where he discussed energy security challenges and our strategic vision of a Europe that's whole, free, and at peace.

“True energy security in Europe is going to require some tough decisions,” the Vice President said before an audience of foreign leaders and business executives.

"True energy security in Europe is going to require some tough decisions." -VP Biden to the Atlantic Council

— Vice President Biden (@VP) November 23, 2014

Before departing for the Washington on Sunday, the Vice President met with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to discuss religious freedom and interfaith dialogue.

“This is a really fine man,” the Vice President said about the Patriarch.


Afterward, the Vice President and Dr. Biden toured the Süleymaniye Mosque, the largest in Istanbul.

Before departing Istanbul today, the VP and @DrBiden toured the Süleymaniye Mosque, the largest in the city →

— Vice President Biden (@VP) November 23, 2014

November 21, 2014   Vice President Biden in Ukraine: “You are a remarkable people, the Ukrainian people”

Last Friday, the Vice President visited Kyiv, Ukraine, his third visit in the last seven months.

The Vice President’s visit coincided with Ukraine’s first annual Day of Freedom and Dignity, which marks the one-year anniversary since protests and calls for government reform first began.

The Vice President’s agenda included meetings with President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to discuss:

Government formation Reform agenda Energy security Situation in the east

These issues underscored the Vice President’s message to the Ukrainian people: Keep working to build the democracy that Ukraine rightfully deserves.

Following his meetings with the President and Prime Minister, the Vice President reflected, “This is an important moment -- a chance to make good on the promise of 25 years ago when the Iron Curtain came down…You are a remarkable people, the Ukrainian people. You’re a brave people. And you’ve demonstrated that once again to the whole world.”

America’s commitment to Ukraine is personal. It’s grounded in the friendship between our people.

— Vice President Biden (@VP) November 21, 2014

Before departing Kyiv, the Vice President had an opportunity to recognize Ukraine’s Day of Freedom and dignity by laying flowers at a memorial for those who were killed during protests this past year.

VP Biden lays flowers at a memorial for those who were killed during protests in Ukraine last year

— Vice President Biden (@VP) November 21, 2014

November 20, 2014   Dates and Milk Welcome Vice President and Dr. Biden to Morocco

Vice President Obama Receives Dates in Morocco

November 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

The first stop on the Vice President and Dr. Biden's three-country trip was Morocco. The Vice President and Dr. Biden's visit started on a sweet note, as they were greeted at the airport with dates and milk, a traditional Moroccan welcome. 

Morocco has a special place in the history and hearts of Americans because it was the first nation in the world to recognize the United States nearly 237 years ago. The Vice President's visit, the first by a sitting U.S. Vice President in decades, marked the latest chapter in a long and storied friendship. 

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President Obama Speaks at the End of the G20 Summit

After two days of policy discussions and meetings with leaders from the world's major economies, President Obama held a press conference to discuss his takeaways from the G20 Summit. The ongoing economic crisis in Europe was a central focus ... Read more »

Putting the Islamist “win” in Tunisia in Context

by Jeffry R. Halverson Put him in power and see how wise he is. – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms I have spent an inordinate amount of time studying Islamist ideologues and their ideas during my relatively short lifetime. I’ve never read War and Peace, but I have read Milestones and The Neglected Duty. In recent months, the Tunisian Islamist and leader of Ennahda, Rachid Ghannouchi, has occupied a good deal of my attention. […] Read more »

Europe’s “Islamic Dilema”

by Emy Matesan Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s first visit to Germany in the beginning of February illustrates the “Islamic dilemma” Western European countries currently face. In front of a predominantly German audience, Erdogan had emphasized the need to better integrate the Turkish minority. He stunned Chancellor Angela Merkel when he suggested that Germany build Turkish high schools and universities in order to help the integration process. But when he visited Cologne, thousands of […] Read more »