A journey with former White House photographer through the corridors of power, but with the human angle, at Xposure 2024

SHARJAH: American photojournalist and former official White House photographer Pete Souza took visitors at the ongoing 8th edition of the Xposure International Photography Festival on an unforgettable journey through history during his talk Documenting for History.

The session offered an in-depth look at Souza’s illustrious career and the impact of visual storytelling in shaping understanding of key historical events.

From humble beginnings working for local Kansas newspapers to serving as the official photographer for US presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, Souza had a ringside view of historic, era-defining moments and the figures in them. His presentation offered many behind-the-scenes glimpses into the lives of two iconic presidents, from moments of triumph to scenes of profound emotion.

About being hired for his second term as White House photographer, Souza recalled, ‘I got a call about two weeks before President Obama’s inauguration… I felt that I was the right person to do it. I had known him
for four years and had the previous experience with President Reagan. I consider myself a seasoned photojournalist. I asked for unfettered access and the pictures I made would not have been possible without that.’

One of the highlights of the talk was Souza’s discussion of his experience covering significant historic events, including the 9/11 attacks.

‘I was always on the lookout for these little moments, just trying to capture humanity,’ Souza remarked, highlighting the importance of capturing the human element in his photographs.

Obama’s role as the first African-American US president also informed a big part of the thinking behind Souza’s photography, resulting in iconic images such as the one of a young black child, Jacob Philadelphia, touching Obama’s head; and Obama sitting on the same bus that Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks first protested in.

‘Photography has the ability to not only show our understanding of the world but to shape it,” Souza concluded.

Source: Emirates News Agency