Pete Souza had the unique privilege and perspective as the Chief Official White House photographer for two U.S. presidential administrations: Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. The Way I See It is a tribute to the office of the president of the USA. It is a tribute to the dignity and high calling of this office. It is a tribute offered from behind the lens of a camera.
Souza was in his early 20s when he was invited to be President Ronald Reagan’s official photographer. Souza learned quickly that this role truly was a lens into how a president behaves, how he lives with his closest aides and the White House staff, and his relationship with his spouse and family. Souza's skill improved as he sought to capture the essence of the person who is recognized for holding one of the most powerful offices in the world.
Following his time with Reagan, Souza returned to contract photojournalism. In 2007, he was asked by presidential candidate Barack Obama to be his official photographer. Souza knew this might be a monumental moment for the country. It was that and more for Souza himself as he lived and breathed the life of President Obama for the next eight years.
Souza’s photos capture what life is like on the inside of the White House. They capture what it is to be the first Black president of the USA while also being a husband, a father, a friend, and a human being. They capture the emotion and stress as well as the joy and the fun in the life of a president. The photographs tell the story of the many moments that deeply affected President Obama and all those around him, as well as Souza himself.
Fast forward to Jan. 20, 2017. Souza’s final White House photos are of President Barack Obama writing a personal note and leaving it on the desk for his successor, a welcome that ends with the words, “Good luck and Godspeed.”
Souza published two books sharing moments and reflecting on his time with the Obama administration: Obama: an Intimate Portrait and Shade: a Tale of Two Presidents. This documentary brings together both these works, as Souza considers what he saw then and what he sees now.
As with all pictures, Souza’s photographs take the place of thousands of words. (Universal/MSNBC films)