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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Making Energy More Accessible in Africa: The Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge

President Barack Obama tosses a Soccket ball in the air at the Ubongo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 2, 2013. As it is used, the ball is able to create and store kinetic energy as a battery. Standing with the President, from ... Read more »

Powering Africa

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Ubongo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Ubongo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 2, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Nearly 70 percent of Africans lack access to electricity, and today, President Obama visited the Ubungo Symbion Power Plant in Dar es Salaam to highlight a new initiative called Power Africa, which aims to double the number of people across the continent who have access to power.

The Ubungo plant represents the type of model Power Africa seeks to replicate, matching public and private resources with projects led by African countries that are taking the lead on reforming their energy sectors.

The U.S. is committing nearly $7 billion in support, and private sector companies have committed more than $9 billion, as President Obama explained today. “This is a win-win,” he said.

It’s a win for Africans -- families get to electrify their homes; businesses can run their plants; investors can say if we locate in an African country, that they’re going to be able to power up in a reliable way.  All this will make economies grow.  It’s a win for the United States because the investments made here, including in cleaner energy, means more exports for the U.S. and more jobs in the U.S.  And, obviously, a growing market in Africa will mean more opportunities for all countries.

President Barack Obama tosses a Soccket ball in the air at the Ubongo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam

President Barack Obama tosses a Soccket ball in the air at the Ubongo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 2, 2013. As it is used, the ball is able to create and store kinetic energy as a battery. Standing with the President, from left, are: Paul Hinks, CEO Symbion Power; Jay Ireland, President and CEO of GE Africa; President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania; Victor Angel, Vice President of Product Development at Uncharted Play; and Jessica Matthews, Co-founder and CEO of Uncharted Play. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

During his tour of the plant, President Obama also spent a few minutes playing with a SOCCKET ball, an energy generating soccer ball that harnesses the kinetic energy generated during play to provide a source of renewable, off-grid power. The ball was invented by Jessica Matthews, a dual citizen of Nigeria and the United States, when she was 19 years old. 

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Connecting Continents: Join a Google+ Hangout with First Lady Michelle Obama from South Africa

This week, the First Lady is joining President Obama on an official visit to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania. During the trip, Mrs. Obama will meet with young people across the continent and highlight the power of education.

On Saturday, June 29th, the First Lady is hosting a special event that will connect young people in South Africa with young people in the U.S. to discuss the importance of education and our shared future -- and you can be a part of it. Here's how:

During this event, in conjunction with MTV Base, an African youth and music TV channel, and Google+, the First Lady and MTV Base VJ Sizwe Dhlomo will join students in South Africa for a virtual discussion with young people in cities around the U.S., including:

  • Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation that unites girls to change the world, will join from Houston, Texas. In addition to the students joining the hangout, Girl Up is hosting dozens of watch parties around the country.
  • John Legend and students involved in his Show Me Campaign, a global campaign fighting for equal access to quality education, will join from Los Angeles, California.
  • Y Global Teens, a YMCA program that provides underprivileged youth with an international service learning experience, will join from New York City. Through the program, these students will visit the Cape Town YMCA.
  • From Google Fiber Space in Kansas City, participants will join that are part of the KC STEM Alliance to promote and inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and math education

This Google+ Hangout with the First Lady kicks off a series of global virtual field trips on Google+ that will launch in the school year. Stay tuned for opportunities to participate in events with the State Department, Global Nomads Group, a nonprofit organization that facilitates cultural exchanges, and others. Check out the Global Nomads Google+ Community to connect with peers around the world right now and stay engaged.

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Traveling to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and members of the First Family are welcomed at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport In Yoff, Senegal

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and members of the First Family are welcomed at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport In Yoff, Senegal, June 26, 2013. Senegal President Macky Sall, left, and First Lady Marème Sall greeted the Obamas upon their arrival to Senegal. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Yesterday, President Obama, his family, and the U.S. delegation began our trip to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, as part of our commitment to invest in Africa’s development and its people. It is my first trip to these countries, and I look forward to meeting new faces from each country.

In 2010, President Obama hosted a forum with 115 young leaders from more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They traveled more than 4,000 miles to discuss the continent’s future and promise at the White House and State Department. The young leaders embraced the challenge of leading sub-Saharan Africa for the next generation, and this week, we are excited to meet more young people who are taking up the mantle.

We all know that Africa is a new center of global growth, and is creating more opportunities for its people than ever before.  The challenge is to ensure these gains are expanded to benefit all Africans. 

As such, during this trip, President Obama will highlight three major themes:

First, increasing U.S. trade and investment.  We are redoubling our efforts to create an environment that enables greater trade, and investment, through encouraging regional integration, legal reforms that break down barriers to the free flow of goods, and services, greater transparency, and anti-corruption measures.

President Obama will also highlight the need to increase access to electricity, and expand trade, and investment. I will be participating in roundtables with United States Trade Representative Mike Froman to highlight business opportunities between the United States, and African countries. We will also discuss our effective partnerships on food security, and global health, which are delivering results by reducing hunger, and under-nutrition, improving child survival, and moving people out of poverty.

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FLOTUS Travel Journal: Kicking Off Our Trip to Africa

Today, my husband, President Obama, and I, along with our daughters, are heading to Africa – to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania – and we want young people all across America to join us! This is such an important trip because Africa is s... Read more »