TIFF20: The Way I See It

As the chief White House photographer for all 8 years of Obama’s presidency, taking intimate candid portraits of the president at work (and very, very occasionally at rest), Pete Souza has developed (photography pun!) some very solid ideas for how a president should behave.

Having also taken pictures of Reagan back in the day, Souza felt himself to be largely apolitical. He didn’t always agree with the decisions his subjects were making, but his job was to document their days, not comment on what he saw. And he never did. Top secret clearance and all that jazz.

As you can imagine, over the course of 8 years, with unprecedented access to the First Family, Souza has a bank of memories from his time with Barrack Obama, and he’s also got thousands upon thousands of photos. The two formed a friendship as close colleagues often will. Souza respected him as a man and admired him as a president.

But it wasn’t until Obama left office and you-know-who moved in that he truly started to consider how a president should behave. What a president should be seen doing. How the president’s image was a reflection of the country as a whole, and what damage it did not just to citizen morale but on the world stage as well, when a president continually insulted the very office they were elected to represent.

Pete Souza is not a politician. He’s not a public speaker or a talking head. He makes pictures, and those pictures quietly became his method of protest. Every time Trump would tweet something inane, and you know he’s spent nearly 4 years outdoing himself in the verbal diarrhea department, Souza would reply with a photograph of Obama looking dignified, personable, intelligent, presidential. He didn’t need to be any more pointed than that. The comparison was disheartening. And so over time, he has found a voice through his pictures, and a platform through Instagram. His followers call him the King of Shade, and after someone explained to him what throwing shade meant, he embraced the title and took the work even more seriously.

Dawn Porter’s documentary is a fun watch because of all the touching behind the scenes moments Souza shares with us. Obama’s absence has left a vacuum where gravitas and grace once belonged. Souza is filling that hole just a little bit. But more than that, his photos are a constant reminder of how a president can and should act.

6 thoughts on “TIFF20: The Way I See It

  1. Experience Film

    In these two photos you can see a humble, but confident man. Loving his wife, being candid and playful with kids and the media. All out of an attitude of transparency, non-defensive. Having not much to hide. It’s the little things that make graceful, inspiring leader.

    Liked by 2 people

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  2. ninvoid99

    Damn, Obama here looks like not just the coolest person in the room but also a gentleman. There’s an element of dignity and class there. Something that is pretty much gone now as we have to deal with the human septic tank.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. tubularsock

    Well there is no question about Step-en-fetch-it Obummer puttin’ on a show for the citizens who
    got robbed by his policies of helping the big banks and dumping on the citizens during the 2008
    bail out “economic stimulus package”.

    PICTURE THAT!

    But unlike Dump and his “Tax Cuts” for the rich, Obummer has that used car salesman smile and
    the bull shit to go with it. You know, when he told the Wall Street bankers that “I’m the only thing standing between you and the pitchforks”! The fucker.

    And don’t forget the bankers payoff after Obummer left office especially the NINE
    Cantor-Fitzgerald speeches at $400,000 a pop! ( oh, and the travel and hotel expenses were covered in addition)
    That was for about 11 hours of “work”!

    THAT IS 3 MILLION 600 THOUSAND DOLLARS TO SPEAK. That is some high priced bull shit is
    what that is, folks!

    Tubularsock calls it retro-bribery. Remember regular pre-bribery is against the law.

    It only boils down to a propaganda film here where the Disingenuous Image of Obummer is
    praised up and down while the verbal diarrhea Dump Image is shown in contrast like something different.

    And yes IT IS!

    The America public is being screwed either way. ALL IMAGE — NO SUBSTANCE.

    But the foolishness is to believe that Obummer is any less of a bank robber!

    Liked by 1 person

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