President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with daughters Sasha and Malia, stand in former South African President Nelson Mandela's cell as they listen to former prisoner Ahmed Kathrada during their tour of Robben Island Prison on Robben Island in Cape Town, South Africa, June 30, 2013. Leslie Robinson and Marian Robinson join them.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with daughters Sasha and Malia, stand in former South African President Nelson Mandela's cell as they listen to former prisoner Ahmed Kathrada during their tour of Robben Island Prison on Robben Island in Cape Town, South Africa, June 30, 2013. Leslie Robinson and Marian Robinson join them.

Pete Souza spent eight years in the White House, photographing President Barack Obama.

“He was so comfortable in front of the camera,” Souza says. “Meaning that he didn’t really change how he did anything. The presence of my camera didn’t affect him in one way so I was able to make these really intimate pictures even on his first day.”

From the fun to the solemn to the iconic (see below for examples), Souza’s photographs defined an administration. He joins us to offer a glimpse inside Obama’s White House.

Guests

  • Pete Souza Former chief official White House Photographer for President Barack Obama; former director, White House Photo Office; former official White House Photographer for President Ronald Reagan; @petesouza

Photos And Interview Highlights

“He had gotten to know me when I was photographing for the Tribune and he saw how I worked,” Souza says of the president. “I think he respected what I did, I think he saw that I took my job seriously, and a few weeks before the inauguration I got a phone call from Robert Gibbs, who was serving as his emissary, and said ‘the president elect would like you to be his photographer.’”

“You have this young African-American boy touching the head of the President of the United States, who looks like him,” Souza says. “And I think for hundreds, thousands, maybe tens of thousands, this was a powerful moment to see this. But it also tells you something about the President of the United States: That at the request of a four-year-old kid he was willing to bend over and let this kid touch his head.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama share a private moment as they ride a freight elevator on their way to the Biden Home State Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009. Mrs. Obama wears the President’s jacket. They are accompanied by George Caudill, Advance, Marvin Nicholson, Personal Aide Reggie Love and Secret Service including Don White, left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“My approach was to make authentic pictures. Like, I didn’t think flattering and unflattering. I thought of authenticity.”

“One of my goals was to not just photograph the official events but look for these moments that tell you something about him as a person, as a human being. And I think that’s the power of still photography. Is finding these moments, the way he interacts with other people.”

President Barack Obama and his daughters, Sasha and Malia, play in the snowstorm at the White House in February, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“Oftentimes Mrs. Obama would alert me to some private family function they were having and ask me to photograph it. I wasn’t even aware of it,” Souza says.

President Barack Obama greets a patient after having his routine physical exam and at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, MD., Feb. 28, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“You’ve got the most powerful people in the government in that room and yet really they’re powerless at this moment,” Souza says of this photo. “All they can do is essentially hope that things go okay on the ground but there’s nothing they can do. I think that helps create the look that you see in all their faces.”

President Barack Obama walks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to his awaiting car on the South Lawn driveway of the White House, following their meetings, May 20, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“I used to take the initiative when he was having a one on one meeting with one person where I would get my pictures and then I would just quietly back out of the room because I knew that he wanted to have a private conversation,” Souza says.

President Barack Obama talks with participants following a bill signing designating the Congressional Gold Medal to commemorate the lives of the four young girls who were killed in Birmingham, Alabama at the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963, in the Oval Office, May 24, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“I began to realize. You know, photography is a subjective medium and it means different things to different people but I started to realize how important it was to this community,” Souza says.

“I think that was one of the things I had going in my favor at the White house is that I had had so many experiences in my career that I was totally confident and had no real nervousness about anything that I was photographing during the eight years,” Souza says.

President Barack Obama talks with President Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, after a lunch with other foreign leaders to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, at Château de Bénouville in Normandy, France, June 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama jokes as a little boy sleeps in his chair during the Father’s Day ice cream social in the State Dining Room of the White House, June 14, 2013. Students from the Becoming A Man (BAM) program in Chicago attend. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“The President called me over to pose for a photo with a young boy who had fallen asleep during the Father’s Day ice cream social in the State Dining Room of the White House,” Souza says of this lighthearted shot.

President Barack Obama talks with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, in Chilmark, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, August 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“I try to work with a small footprint and I think part of my success in being able to navigate in some of these situations is not to use a motor drive not to use a flash. To be quiet, as quiet as possible.”

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait in a hallway backstage before addressing the United Nations General Assembly Reception at the New York Public Library, in New York, N.Y., Sept. 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“They’d say ‘what’s your favorite picture’ and I’d always say well hopefully it’ll be the one that I make tomorrow because that’s what keeps you going you know as a photographer you are always trying to not think about yesterday but you are thinking about making that great picture tomorrow,” Souza says.

Your Political Photos

Not being on the White House staff hasn’t stopped anyone from snapping a picture of a president. We asked you to send us your photos of presidents, or any other politicians you encountered. Here’s what you sent us:

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