Obama: An Intimate Portrait

The Historic Presidency in Photographs


Foreword by Barack Obama

By Pete Souza

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Relive the extraordinary Presidency of Barack Obama through White House photographer Pete Souza’s behind-the-scenes images and stories in this #1 New York Times bestseller — with a foreword from the President himself.

During Barack Obama’s two terms, Pete Souza was with the President during more crucial moments than anyone else — and he photographed them all. Souza captured nearly two million photographs of President Obama, in moments highly classified and disarmingly candid. Obama: An Intimate Portrait reproduces more than 300 of Souza’s most iconic photographs with fine-art print quality in an oversize collectible format.

Together they document the most consequential hours of the Presidency — including the historic image of President Obama and his advisors in the Situation Room during the bin Laden mission — alongside unguarded moments with the President’s family, his encounters with children, interactions with world leaders and cultural figures, and more.

Souza’s photographs, with the behind-the-scenes captions and stories that accompany them, communicate the pace and power of our nation’s highest office. They also reveal the spirit of the extraordinary man who became our President. We see President Obama lead our nation through monumental challenges, comfort us in calamity and loss, share in hard-won victories, and set a singular example to “be kind and be useful,” as he would instruct his daughters.

This book puts you in the White House with President Obama, and is a treasured record of a landmark era in American history.


February 18, 2009

Senator Barack Obama on Capitol Hill. January 5, 2005

President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. November 9, 2012










Moments before the inauguration. January 20, 2009

The President with the First Lady in a freight elevator heading to an inaugural ball. It was chilly, so he draped his jacket over her shoulders. 11:00 p.m., January 20, 2009

On the elevator to the private residence after the inaugural party at the White House. 2:00 a.m., January 21, 2009

Seven hours after calling it a night, Barack Obama sat at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office as President of the United States for the first time. 9:02 a.m., January 21, 2009

Meeting in the Situation Room with his National Security team for the second time in the first three days. January 23, 2009

The economic crisis was the biggest challenge of the first year of his Presidency. Many of the meetings about it took place in the Roosevelt Room, just across the hall from the Oval Office. I tried to capture the President’s emotion as he dealt with the issue, which was the worst financial disruption since the Great Depression. January 29, 2009

Talking on the phone with Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki of Iraq. February 2, 2009

Watching a 3D commercial in the family theater during Super Bowl XLIII, between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals. February 1, 2009

Moving a sofa back into place in the Oval Office with (not much) help from Governor Jim Douglas of Vermont. February 2, 2009

Sasha (left) and Malia checking out their dad’s new office. February 2, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus package. I composed this shot on Air Force One, as we returned from its signing in Denver. February 17, 2009

Dancing with the First Lady at the Governors Ball in the East Room and singing along with the legendary band Earth, Wind & Fire—who were performing directly behind me. February 22, 2009

First speech to a joint session of Congress. February 24, 2009

Playing hoops on a Saturday at the Department of Interior gymnasium. February 28, 2009

The President once told me that he got a lot of thinking done on the Colonnade connecting the residence to the West Wing. February 26, 2009

Running into the girls on the Colonnade after school. March 5, 2009

Meeting with his economic team on a Sunday night, before calling the heads of General Motors and Chrysler to tell them the government was effectively taking over their companies. Though the decision was unpopular at the time, the bailout saved the auto industry. March 29, 2009

With the First Lady at Prague Castle, in the Czech Republic. April 5, 2009

Embraced by the crowd following his speech in Prague’s Hradčany Square. April 5, 2009

Aboard Air Force One, senior staff and Secret Service agent Joe Clancy, far right, coordinating the security details for an unscheduled visit to Iraq. April 7, 2009

Speaking to U.S. troops at Camp Victory, in Baghdad. April 7, 2009

Deputy chief of staff Mona Sutphen joking with senior advisor David Axelrod; staff had gathered to celebrate senior advisor Pete Rouse’s birthday. April 15, 2009

A late night in the Oval. April 23, 2009

* * *








En route to the Naval Academy commencement aboard the Marine One helicopter. May 22, 2009

With senior advisors after moving a meeting from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden on a warm spring day. May 20, 2009

Running into Sasha in the elevator to the private residence as she returned home from school. May 19, 2009

Inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, near Cairo, Egypt. June 4, 2009

Visiting the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza. In his first trip to a predominantly Muslim country, the President also delivered a speech titled “A New Beginning” at Cairo University. June 4, 2009

Goofing around with Sasha during a family dinner on the roof of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow, Russia. July 7, 2009

Meeting for the first time with then–Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at his dacha outside Moscow. July 8, 2009

With the First Family at Accra airport, Ghana. July 11, 2009

Waving farewell following his speech there. July 11, 2009

Sasha in the Oval Office. August 5, 2009

On a family trip to the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. August 16, 2009

Greeting new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor before her investiture ceremony at the court. September 8, 2009

Talking policy with legislative aide Phil Schiliro while press secretary Robert Gibbs horses around with “body man” Reggie Love. September 1, 2009

Editing a speech on health care with Jon Favreau. September 9, 2009

An intense game of one-on-one with personal aide Reggie Love in New York, a few hours after speaking to the United Nations General Assembly. The President was so proud of his blocked shot that he made Reggie sign an enlargement of the picture. Reggie’s inscription: “Mr. President, nice block—Reggie Love.”

That night, around 10 p.m., with National Security Chief of Staff Denis McDonough at the Waldorf Astoria, in New York. September 23, 2009

A detail of the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, where the President kept his morning paperwork. October 5, 2009

Being congratulated by the residence staff after winning the Nobel Peace Prize. October 9, 2009

On Air Force One, flying to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Singapore. Robert Gibbs had pulled up photographs of the colorful batik shirts that previous Presidents had worn to the event in past years. November 14, 2009

Visiting the Badaling section of the Great Wall on his first trip to China as President. November 18, 2009

After a state dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, on the South Grounds of the White House. November 24, 2009

Announcing his decision to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan during a speech to West Point cadets, many of whom would eventually be deployed. December 1, 2009

Fist-bumping Larry Lipscomb, a General Services Administration worker, following a White House forum on jobs and economic growth, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. December 3, 2009

Busting in, uninvited, on a meeting about climate change hosted by China in Copenhagen, Denmark. December 18, 2009

Golfing at the Luana Hills Golf Course during his Christmas family vacation in Kailua, Hawaii. Although basketball was the President’s sport of choice, a round of golf was as close as he could get to escaping the Presidential bubble for a few hours. Because Secret Service and military personnel always accompanied him, I never in eight years caught him more alone on the golf course than in this photograph. December 28, 2009

With Malia on vacation in Kailua, waiting for Denis McDonough to connect him to his National Security team for updates on an averted terrorist act. A man with plastic explosives sewn into his underwear had unsuccessfully attempted to bomb a plane as it flew from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas morning. December 29, 2009


On Sale
Nov 7, 2017
Page Count
352 pages

Pete Souza

About the Author

Pete Souza was the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama and the Director of the White House Photo Office. Previously Souza was an Assistant Professor of Photojournalism at Ohio University, the national photographer for the Chicago Tribune, a freelancer for National Geographic, and an Official White House Photographer for President Reagan. His books include the New York Times bestseller The Rise of Barack Obama, which documents the president’s meteoric ascent from his first day in the United States Senate through the 2008 Pennsylvania presidential primary, and the #1 New York Times bestseller Obama: An Intimate Portrait. Souza is currently a freelance photographer based in Washington, D.C., and is a Professor Emeritus at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication.

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