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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2009-12-28

Decade Collection: Pete Souza
'I knew this was a special moment that also humanized the President in a way that people don’t normally see.'

By Pete Souza, White House

Photo by Pete Souza / White House

Photo by Pete Souza / White House

President Barack Obama bends over so the son of a White House staff member can pat his head during a visit to the Oval Office May 8, 2009.
I consider myself one of the luckiest photographers on the planet to be in the position I’m in: documenting President Obama as his chief official White House photographer.

Rather than choose a “weighty” picture, I went with a photograph from what was essentially a grip-and-grin situation to show that you never know when a good photograph may come about.

Carlton Philadelphia was a national security aide temporarily dispatched to the White House for a few months at the start of the administration. As is customary, when it was time for him to move on, he brought his family into the Oval Office for a quick departure photo with the President. That’s all it was supposed to be.

Until his young son shyly and quietly asked the President: I just had my haircut like Barack Obama; can I feel your head to see if it feels like mine. The President bent over, and the boy felt his head. It happened so fast that I only shot one frame. It wasn’t until I looked at it on my computer monitor at the end of the day, that I knew this was a special moment that also humanized the President in a way that people don’t normally see.

We had already rolled out the first official White House Photo Stream (www.flickr.com/whitehouse) with regular updates of behind-the-scenes photographs per the administration’s calling to be more open and transparent. But I was being very cautious of uploading photos with kids from non-public events. So we emailed the photo to Mr. Philadelphia, explaining the concept of Flickr and seeking permission to post the photograph. Yes, he said, he thought it would be good for people to see it.


(Pete Souza is Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama. He also was Official White House Photographer for President Reagan. You can see Pete's member page here: http://www.sportsshooter.com/souza)

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