Pete Souza's Portrait Of A Presidency

Dec 19, 2012
Cover photograph by Nadav Kander
Cover photograph by Nadav Kander

As TIME magazine once again names U.S. President Barack Obama as their Person of the Year, a TIME Lightbox feature today showcases 125 of White House photojournalist Pete Souza's favorite images from the first term (along with some photographic updates from recent news events, including Newtown). 

Souza's relationship with Obama goes back before any presidential days, when Souza was a Chicago Tribune staff photographer based in Washington and Obama was a newly-elected Senator from Illinois. The pictures he selected to share are not just from the high points, but the tough times as well. Souza told TIME that he's not just documenting the presidency for history, but hopes that his images also help the world understand Obama not just as president but also as a human being, a father, husband, and how he relates to other people.

It's also worth noting that Souza wasn't new to the White House like Obama was when the president's first term began. Souza had been there before, as a White House photographer during Ronald Reagan's second term. In that respect, Souza has spent more time at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. than his boss. 

When Obama was elected and making the transition to president and picking his staff, Souza was in Athens, OH, preparing lecture materials for his upcoming students. He was days away from teaching an opening class for the Spring semester at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication. But on the first day of class the students, who were undoubtedly looking forward to studying with a White House photographer, learned their professor would be leaving them shortly – for the White House again. At least the VisCom students could continue to study Souza's photograph, along with the rest of the world, on the White House's Flickr photography feed.

The TIME cover photograph is by Nadav Kander. Lightbox also has a feature with a behind-the-scenes look at the magazine's cover shoot.