Pete Souza is a best-selling author, speaker and freelance photographer based in Madison, Wisconsin. He is best known for his tenure as the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama. His book, “Obama: An Intimate Portrait,” debuted at #1 on the New York Times best-sellers list and is one of the best-selling photography books of all time. Souza became known as “the king of shade” during the Trump administration for juxtaposing his Obama photographs on Instagram with the tweets and quotes of the 46th president. His book, “Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents,” also debuted at #1 on the New York Times best-sellers list and is one of the best-selling photography books of all time.
Souza has also worked as a freelancer for National Geographic, an Official White House Photographer for President Reagan, the national photographer for the Chicago Tribune, and as an assistant professor at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication. Along with his Tribune colleagues, Souza shared in receiving the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for explanatory journalism.
After 9/11, he was among the first journalists to cover the fall of Kabul, Afghanistan, after crossing the Hindu Kush mountains by horseback in three feet of snow. Souza has had solo exhibits of his work throughout the country, and he has given presentations of his photography at venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Tate Modern in London. Souza has won numerous awards including several times in the prestigious Pictures of the Year annual competition, the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism, and the White House News Photographers Association’s yearly contest.
Souza became the subject of a documentary film in November 2020, “The Way I See It.” Directed by Dawn Porter and produced by Porter, Laura Dern, Jayme Lemons, and Evan Hayes, the film takes an unprecedented look behind the scenes of two of the most iconic Presidents in history–Reagan and Obama–as seen through Souza’s eyes and camera. The film reveals how Souza transformed from a respected White House photographer and photojournalist to a searing commentator on the importance of having someone with dignity and empathy in the office of the Presidency. “The Way I See It” was named Best Documentary by the New York Film Critics and was the winner of the Critics’ Choice Award for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary.
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 both Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, 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.
Two Presidents, One Photographer
Two Presidents, One Photographer showcases fifty-six of Souza’s photographs of two presidents. It includes Souza’s favorite images of Reagan and Obama, providing us with 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.
Obama: An Intimate Portrait
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.
“What a WONDERFUL once and a lifetime opportunity! I can’t thank you enough for bringing him to speak & for your help to make sure I got a spot tonight! It has been many years since I’ve had the opportunity to hear someone speak, where I admire their body of work & them. For Mr. Souza to be so open honest made it even better. The images he shared and the insight from behind the scenes he had on was amazing!!!! Mr. Souza what a truly memorable experience tonight was for me. Thank you again for everything.”
—EVENT ATTENDEE, UW-Milwaukee
“Pete Souza was simply extraordinary. While we cannot safely gather in our performance halls and art galleries on campus at this time, we were able to bring Mr. Souza into our virtual School of Visual & Performing Arts’ Industry Insight Series. He created a wonderful, specialized presentation for our Community College audience made up of students, faculty, staff and patrons, providing important insight about his work. His generosity of spirit, thorough preparation, humility and welcoming attitude created a safe and effective space for our students to learn. In our continued search for inspiration during these challenging times, Mr. Souza’s presentation served to inspire our students and faculty, encouraging all of us – especially in education – to continue our work. I look forward to welcoming him to our Performing Arts Center when we are once again able to convene. It was a truly unforgettable evening and we are so grateful.”
—JENNIFER SMOLOS, Dean of the School of Visual & Performing Arts at College of the Canyons (Los Angeles, CA)
“Pete is humble, humorous, and is a great storyteller. He is a true national treasure.”
—ELIZABETH PAHL, Ohio University
“Pete was incredible. He held the room in the palm of his hand, making them laugh and cry with his powerful presentation. We have already received wonderful feedback from our guests — many of whom want to know when he is coming back.”
—MARY MCMURRAY, Truman Library Institute
A Tale of Two Presidents
**updated with 60 new pages and including the release of the Mueller report.
A Tale of Two Presidents
Obama – An Intimate Portrait
The Historic Presidency in Photographs
Behind-The-Scenes Photographs of President Ronald Reagan
Images of Greatness
An Intimate Look at the Presidency of Ronald Reagan
The Rise of Barack Obama