Credit Luke Sharrett/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Pete Souza, the former chief White House photographer who became so close to President Obama that he held his wedding in the Rose Garden, is encountering newfound notoriety on social media for a personal Instagram account that has subtly taken aim at President Trump since Inauguration Day.
Now, after nearly 100 days and over one million Instagram followers, the natural next step, it seems, is a book deal.
Mr. Souza is working on a book, “Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs,” the publisher Little, Brown and Company announced this week. The book, scheduled for publication in November, will contain a collection of over 300 of Mr. Souza’s photographs. In an email, Mr. Souza said that he was narrowing his choices from a pool of about 10,000 photos, and that he would aim to show Mr. Obama “in all facets of his life.”
“There are pictures that certainly show him stressing in the Situation Room over major decisions,” Mr. Souza wrote, “but also pictures of him interacting in fun moments with his girls.”
A post shared by Pete Souza (@petesouza) on Jan 20, 2017 at 12:06pm PST
On social media, Mr. Souza has amassed an audience of people who visit for archived photos of the Obama family, leaving comments like “I miss them” and “Thank you.” When he started the Instagram account, the mix of photos Mr. Souza published from his archive served as a nostalgic haven for millions of Democrats mourning the end of the 44th presidency. But shortly after Inauguration Day, the commentary grew edgier, and Mr. Souza, who has been openly critical on social media of Mr. Trump’s policies, offered his Obama-era commentary on everything from Trump administration staff members’ reported inability to operate light switches to the rocky implementation of a travel ban that the courts have blocked so far.
Little, Brown and Company declined to discuss specific terms of the deal.
Elizabeth Garriga, a spokeswoman for the publisher, said that negotiations for the book began shortly after Mr. Obama left office. Mr. Souza, a photographer who developed an early understanding of how his work could be shared on social media platforms like Flickr, has matched photos from the Obama years to President Trump’s unorthodox approach to the White House. What has followed is an alternate timeline of how the previous presidency unfolded, and a starkly told story of how two presidents with very different temperaments have approached the office.
Mr. Souza’s photos are now beginning to generate their own headlines: After the Trump White House said it would not release its visitor logs, Mr. Souza posted a cheeky update on Instagram. “Hmm. Bet he was noted in the visitor logs,” he wrote of a photo of Mr. Obama passing through metal detectors at the White House.
And shortly after Sarah Palin, Kid Rock and Ted Nugent struck defiant poses under Hillary Clinton’s White House portrait, Mr. Souza posted his own photo. It was an image of Mr. Obama seated under President Ronald Reagan’s portrait. The caption: “Being respectful.”
A post shared by Pete Souza (@petesouza) on Apr 20, 2017 at 12:22pm PDT
Mr. Souza, 62, has kept his eye trained on politicians for much of his career — he was also the official White House photographer under Mr. Reagan. A native of Massachusetts, Mr. Souza was working as a photographer for The Chicago Tribune when he was assigned to photograph Mr. Obama, then a new senator from Illinois, on his first day in office in 2005.
The two bonded quickly, which allowed Mr. Souza to document some of the most intimate moments of Mr. Obama’s presidency, from family vacations to the photo of several Obama administration officials watching the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Mr. Souza is the author of another book, “The Rise of Barack Obama,” published in 2008.
Mr. Souza’s access to the president drew complaints from other photographers who covered the Obama White House. In 2013, the White House Correspondents’ Association and 37 news organizations, including The New York Times, lodged a formal complaint with the White House over what the group said was preferential treatment that excluded journalists from documenting history.
“It’s legitimate for them to push for more access, and in some cases I think their arguments are valid, and in some instances I think their arguments aren’t valid,” Mr. Souza said at the time.
Press access has continued to be an issue with the Trump White House, which has an adversarial relationship with journalists, barring some from press briefings. Shealah Craighead, who was the photographer for the former first lady Laura Bush, is now an official photographer for Mr. Trump, but as some have noted, she is capturing the current president at a distance compared with Mr. Souza, who was allowed to capture Mr. Obama close up.
Source: New York Times