tv Obama CSPAN July 30, 2017 7:11am-7:30am EDT
congressman bradley byrne, thanks for spending a few minutes with book tv. >> book tv wants to know what you are reading. unless your summer reading list by a twitter at book tv or instagram at book ótv or posted to our facebook page, facebook.com/book tv. book tv on c-span2: television for serious readers. >> one of the things we like to do on book tv is preview some of the books that will be coming out this fall. joining us now in new york is an author and a photographer whose name is pete souza. mister souza, what do you do for a living? >> right now i'm trying to finish up my book. it's pretty much done but there's still a lot of last-minute production things that we are dealing with. >> what did you do for a living?
>> for eight years i was president obama's chief white house photographer. she photographer's role is to document the presidency or history. and what that means depends on the photographer and the president and in this case president obama understood the role of truly visually documenting his presidency so he gave me access to pretty much everything. so i think i was able to create an archive of photographs that will live in perpetuity at the national archives. >> how long has the president had a photographer like this? >> i think the job really first took hold during the kennedy administration. kennedy had two military photographers assigned to the white house. but then when lbj came in and he hired this gay guy named yoshioka moto, a civilian who
really was the first one to document for history everything that johnson did area and he set the bar so high, okay moto did that i think everyone has been trying to reach his level ever sense. >> how do you get a gig like that? >> i think it's different for each photographer. for me, i got to meet then senator obama. actually his first day in the senate. i was working for the chicago tribune, his own newspaper based in dc and got this assignment that documented his first year in the senate. so i got to know him, he got to know me, he like my pictures, you like the way i work. i used a small footprint, try not to stir disturbed what was taking place. so when he was elected president, he asked me to
become his white house photographer. >> how many pictures in the eight years you take up president obama? >> i kind of know. >>. >> i just don't know if i would've had a guess. i would've said 300,000, 400,000. so just under 2 million. but when you add up, there's sometimes seven days a week. and it's not as many pictures that they really sense, 2 million is a lot but it is over 80 years and it is for the most part almost re-hundred 68 a year. though. >> what kind of clearance you have to have. >> i have a great clearance, i was able to go into every national security meeting. >> which i think is important in terms of really trying to document. the importance meetings of the presidency. you havethat kind of clearance. >> .>> the old iconic photo of the president, the night
osama bin laden was killed, is that yours? tell me about that moment. >> we had it at 850 in the afternoon. it was, the interesting thing is about that photograph, is that really all the people, all the decision-makers that are in that room, the president and vice president, the chief of staff, the secretary of the state, secretary of defense, there was nothing they could do. already made theirdecision. they made the decision to launch this special forces mission . and now all they could do was watch. it was out of their hands so that's got to be kind of a anxious time for them which i think is what is portrayed in the photograph, that you see the tension, the anxiety. they didn't even know for sure if bin laden was there. they didn't know for sure at this mission would succeed. and you know, you just kind
of risk the whole presidency on this one decision. so it's kind of, i look at that picture and that's what i think is that there is a helplessness in some respects in that the decision had been made, there was nothing they could do that what but hope and watch.>> you know at that point what you had? in that picture? x i was in that room for 40 minutes. >> that's about how long the mission took. and i probably took maybe 100 pictures in that 40 minutes. >> and i had a lot of pictures throughout the day. i think i took 1000 pictures that day. and then it was not until the next day that i actually did the editing and i got down to 10 or 20 pictures. >> i thought it was a special photograph. i didn't know it was going to get the kind of attention that did. >>. >> what's your favorite photograph of president obama's?
>> i don't think i have one. it's kind of difficult decision to take 80 years of work. and narrow it down to one. i had a hard enough time taking those 1.9 million photographs and getting down to 300 plus for this book, that was hard enough. i got that down to one, that's hard for me to say. out of the. >> out of the 200 and the forthcoming book, a couple that you really really like? >> i would probably gravitate towards the one that shows him as a person, what was he like as a person. so there's one of him playing in the snow with his girls when they were still young. there's one where a young kid
is dressed up like spiderman, zapping him into a web. there's another one where he on another halloween picture where ben rhodes daughter dressed up in an elephant costume, comes into the oval office and he lies down on the floor of the oval office and for up in the air. so it's those unique moments that you can't ever plan, you don't know if they're about to happen. >> and i think it tells you about his personality, what he's like as a person. >> and not just a weighty picture. of him in a situation room or him you know, agonizing over what's happening in syria, those kind of pictures are important and they tell you a lot but the presidency, but these other ones that i mentioned tell you a lot about him as a person. >> did the president ever a photo that you chose? >> it didn't really work that way. >>. >> i think the trusted me if
we were going to make public a picture that i, i would put out an appropriate picture. i think if you look at some of the earlier pictures that we released, where he was dealing with the economic crisis and you could say these are not the kind of traditional pictures you see where he's got his head in his hands. the cause we were in this terrible economic situation but i was trying to be truthful to how he was dealing with this in the meeting. >> and i think people thought they were appropriate. to make public so that the public could see that he was dealing with this. for them, during the next presidential campaign. they were used by the opposition and put in the wrong context.so that's sort of the risk you take when you make public pictures like that. it's hard to control that they are shown in the proper context.
>>. >> was there a time when the president said not now? >> know. but i know him so well that i could tell when he needed some space. or i also came to learn if he had a one on one meeting with someone, where you really wanted to have a conversation , that you didn't ever say this to me but i could sense it. you wanted me to make sure i got my pictures but then, just kind of backed out of the room. so i sort of learned how to do that over the course of the first six months, just you have to learn how to do your job and how to do it in a way that he's comfortable with. >> with your camera click audibly? >> that's a very good question. my, when i first started at
the white house. >> i had to choose what kind of equipment to purchase for me and my staff. and the overriding decision was using the quietest cameras that time were made. >> and so this is why i have the time should have, i used the cannon. it was a quiet shudder, i didn't shoot with motor drives or use of flash. i tried to be what i call small footprints. not disturb what was going on. use the quiet camera, not use the motor drive or not use the flash. helped a lot. >>this is your first time at the white house . >> it was not. >> i was also white house photographer, not the chief photographer but i was on the white house staff. during the last five years of the reagan administration. and i'm either younger than i
look or i was 12 at the time. and i choose to say i was 12 at the time. no, so i was in my 20s. and it was a good training ground for the second time around. because i sort of knew what needed to be done. i knew the white house really well. i knew how the religious six of being on the road worked. i think that helped a lot. having had previous experience. >> could you go all day and first of all, first of all, what were the differences between being on the staff at the reagan white house and being the chief at the obama white house? >> the biggest difference was i had already established a relationship with president obama before he was president. so that had already been established. i didn't know reagan at all.
my personal views can to be more on the obama side than the reagan side but i looked at it as an opportunity to document history. i think with reagan, reagan was much more formal than president obama in that he would always wear a coat and tie. never take his suit coat off. president obama was much more informal. he would take his coat off. if he was having a meeting with staff, with heads of state you would always leave his coat on so he's much more informal. he would do things that work on the schedule all the time and reagan pretty much stuck to his schedule. he was much younger than president obama was much younger than president reagan so he had a young family, two young girls there was that
whole aspect of documenting that part of history. there were those kind of things. the one thing that they were both similar in is that they had similar dispositions in that it took a lot to get ronald reagan mad or angry. the same is true with president obama. and i saw both of them get mad and angry but it would take a lot for that to happen. they both had this sort of even keel about them. that you know, that's probably one similarity. i think on a typical day, could you go the entire day with president obama and basically never exchange words because you are both doing your jobs? >> i did talk to him a lot but i also knew my role on the observer. my job is documenting history but yet i was also establishing a friendship
with him so we didn't answer a lot but sure, there would be days where yes, maybe like at 4:00 and there would be a moment where we are alone and he would say how are you doing today? i say i'm doing great, how are you doing and we talk about the game or just play in the basketball game last night, something like that. but there were certainly days when i wasn't having this ongoing conversation that was not my role. >> howlong did it take for him to get used to you? >> itprobably took him four or five months probably. >> he already knew how i worked and he knew me , trusted me. >> . >> i think for anybody to be constantly being part of that. that's got to be really annoying. it would be annoying for me. i think after a while, he saw the value of it. and he also, the pictures that he loved, they were anytime we hung a picture up
on him with one of his girls, in the west wing, those are the pictures that you just love more than anything. >> one of the ongoing stories during the transition is the president leaves the white house to go up to the capital and then he's gone by the time the new president gets down, new photos are already hung. how does that happen? >> what's the process? >> i can only tell you how we get it. i can say or tell you about the beginning of the obama administration and in the end of the obama administration. i can't really tell you much else. the beginning of the obama administration , we had our lab because even though it's a digital, it's still call the lab. we had been on standby for the night of the inauguration so basically all the pictures
that we took on january 20, 2009. they were hanging in the wall. >> of the west wing, the following day because they worked overnight. >> so the obama administration, the last three weeks we essentially on the photos of the eight years of the staff the last couple weeks to reflect on what they had just been through. and then there came a point in time where i had to take all those pictures down. and it was kind of depressing, actually because it all of a sudden when the staff watson in the morning of january 20, 2017 and it's this black frame. i left the frames for the next administration. but there was nothing so that was kind of strange, a strange feeling to walk out the door like that. >> to your book, obama, and
intimate portraits, the historic presidency and photographs, is it going to be what they call a coffee table book mark. >> yes, it will be 12 inches, 10 inches. x 352 pages. >> it's going away like six pounds. more than six pounds, a very heavyweight paper. so it's very definitely a coffee table book. >> there aresome hornets , and there is, there's some photos, photographs where i tell the complete back story to the photograph. photographs will have simple one line captions and some of them will have the extended back story. >> who owns the rights to those photos? >> we all do. i could publish the book. but you weren't in the room. >>. >> that's the challenge and i think what i bring to this project is that i think i've put together contextually, the right group of
photographs that tell you about his presidency and about him. >> is coming from me, this is my view of it. but i think the only, historians will feel, i did justice to documenting history. >> pete souza, former white house photographer. the book comes out in november, obama, and intimate portrait. the historic presidency in photographs. this is tv on c-span to reviewing some of the books coming out this fall. >> book tv recently visited capitol hill to ask congress what they are reading the summer. >> right now i'm reading this book called sam pianist, this is a book about the history of opiates in our country. and it's a nonfiction book but it's absolutely fascinating.