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December 31, 2014 » 9:47 am

White House Year in Photography

Pete Souza, the official White House photographer (who also served a similar role under Reagan) posted his Year in Photos on the White House website this week. I loved poring over these! As you might expect, Souza’s photos tell a powerful, insider’s story of President Obama’s 2014. They also serve as a primer on masterful photojournalism.

The photo above offered a brief look at Obama’s propensity to be present. Souza’s caption:

Surrounded by Secret Service agents, the President views the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Rather than immediately board the Marine One helicopter at Crissy Field, the President instead walked right past the helicopter to see a better view of the bridge on a clear summer day.

Here are some other nice examples of this.

Masterful photography and storytelling is nothing new. What I especially love is how the White House uses the Internet and social media to share these pictures. All of the pictures above (and many more) are shared more or less in real-time on Flickr. If you click through on any of the photos, you’ll notice that all of the camera metadata is there. (Souza uses a Canon 5D Mark III, often with a 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom.) Lots of professional photographers hide their metadata, a ridiculous, misguided attempt to maintain some kind of competitive edge.

You’ll also notice the licensing: U.S. Government Works. By law, federal work is not protected by copyright. However, that does not mean the work is in the public domain, as federal work is protected by other government statutes. For example, you cannot use government work to imply endorsement by a government official. No such luck with public domain or even Creative Commons.

I had never seen the U.S. Government Works statement before. It has very nice language around publicity versus privacy rights, an issue that has flummoxed me.

Souza also maintains an excellent Instagram account, where he shares iPhone photos and insider stories, including his thought process behind how he curated his 2014 photo essay. He also recently gave an excellent interview about his process.

This is what working openly looks like. This is what getting it looks like.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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2 Responses to “White House Year in Photography”

  1. I love these "Obama looking at things" pictures. You immediately start to wonder what he's thinking or seeing as what he's looking at is often off screen.

  2. i love the siluate picture on the beach..u can actually see his thinkings

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