Presidential Leadership & Legacy
Pete Souza is now delivering a rare and unique virtual program, "Presidential Leadership & Legacy." He shares some of his favorite images of Reagan and Obama, providing candid moments that are windows into their humanity. What we see in Souza’s photographs are two presidents who clearly respected both the office they held and the people with whom they interacted, no matter the circumstance.
Eyewitness to History
As the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Barack Obama and Official White House Photographer for President Reagan from 1983-1989, Pete was in a unique position to spend rare and intimate moments in the Oval Office observing two transformative Presidents of the United States. He shares some of his iconic behind-the-scenes photographs, along with his poignant detailed stories, all leading to a bold and dynamic depiction of true leadership.
Pete Souza is a bestselling author, speaker and freelance photographer based in Madison, Wisconsin. He is also Professor Emeritus of Visual Communication at Ohio University. Souza was the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Barack Obama and the Director of the White House photo office for all eight years. He was also an Official White House Photographer for President Ronald Reagan, from 1983 until Jan. 20, 1989. In 2021, Souza was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame.
His book, Obama: An Intimate Portrait, was published by Little, Brown & Company in 2017, and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It is one of the best-selling photography books of all time. His 2018 book, Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents, also debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Shade is a portrait in Presidential contrasts, telling the tale of the Obama and Trump administrations through a series of visual juxtapositions.
Souza's most recent photography book, The West Wing and Beyond: What I Saw Inside the Presidency, was published in September 2022. This book takes you inside the presidential bubble with photographs and stories of consequential moments and traditions with the people who define our nation’s highest office—from the senior White House staff to the Oval Office valets. It delivers new insights into the role of the Secret Service, the seriousness of decisive meetings in the West Wing, and even some fun moments aboard Air Force One.
Based on his best-selling books, Souza became the subject of documentary film in November 2020, The Way I See It. Directed by Dawn Porter–and produced by Porter, Laura Dern, Evan Hayes and Jayme Lemons–the film takes an unprecedented look behind the scenes of two of the most iconic Presidents in history, Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, as seen through Souza's eyes and camera. As Official White House Photographer for both these Presidents, Souza was an eyewitness to the unique and tremendous responsibilities of being the most powerful man in the world. The film also reveals how Souza transformed from a respected White House photographer and photojournalist to a searing commentator on the importance of having someone with empathy and dignity in the office of the Presidency. The film was nominated for an Emmy, premiering on MSNBC and became the highest rated non-news, non-live program ever. Souza also won the Critic's Choice Award for Most Compelling Living Subject of a documentary.