Obama’s White House Photographer

picture-14Witness private and political moments along Barack Obama’s path to the presidency, as seen by official White House photographer Pete Souza

picture-62ATHENS, OH (January 4, 2009) – Photojournalist and NPPA member Pete Souza has accepted the position of official White House photographer for President-elect Barack Obama, he told News Photographer magazine tonight.

Souza received the offer for the position from Robert Gibbs, the new president’s longtime spokesman who is also Obama’s incoming White House press secretary.

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It won’t be Souza’s first time in the Oval Office. He was also a White House photographer during President Ronald Reagan’s second term.

Souza, 54, said he accepted the offer today after talking with Gibbs and reaching an agreement that the primary function of the White House photography office will be to document Obama’s presidency for the sake of history.

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Gibbs is a close advisor to Obama, a member of the new president’s transition team, and made the offer to Souza this weekend on behalf of the President-elect.

“Pete is great person and a wonderful photographer,” Gibbs told the Chicago Tribune’s John McCormick. “The White House is lucky to have him back again.”

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Souza has been teaching photojournalism at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication and the Spring semester starts today, so the photojournalist’s incoming students will learn this morning that their professor has started their classes by taking what he says is “an extended leave of absence.” Souza says he’ll leave Athens on Monday for Washington, where his family stayed while he’s been teaching in Ohio.

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Obama and Souza met for the first time in January 2005, on Obama’s first day in the U.S. Senate when he was sworn in as a Democrat from Illinois. Souza worked for the Chicago Tribune at the time, and documented Obama’s first year in the Senate, and his trips to seven countries including Kenya, South Africa, and Russia, in photographs that were later compiled into the July 2008 book “The Rise of Barack Obama,” which made it onto The New York Times bestseller list and was available to the public shortly before last summer’s Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO.

Official portrait

Official portrait

By Donald R. Winslow

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