Barack Obama’s White House photographer touched the hearts of viewers with in his new documentary about an administration that feels like lifetimes ago.
The moving photos by Pete Souza in the “The Way I See It,” a documentary produced by MSNBC and Focus Features that aired on the network Friday, triggered reactions on Twitter from tears to yearning to nostalgia.
Photos in the film show a tearful Obama embracing the parents of Sandy Hook victims, playing basketball with his daughters, letting a young Black boy touch his head to compare haircuts, and lying on his back in the Oval Office grasping a baby in a costume with floppy ears.
Souza was the official photographer for both Obama and Ronald Reagan — presidents, he said, who “respected the dignity of the office.” They also made themselves available to Souza and his camera for the sake of history. That’s something Donald Trump does not do, Souza said; Trump often only agrees to pose for staged images.
“We need authentic moments for history,” Souza said Friday in an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid. “I always looked at my job as: Just hang around. Hang around and be there when things are happening, and photograph as they’re happening. Don’t direct anything, don’t stage anything. You either get it or you don’t.”
Souza frequently speaks out against Trump on social media, often deploying images of Obama in the White House to fuel his hits on the current president. He further drove home the comparison in his 2018 book, “Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents.”
Twitter followers who watched the documentary totally got what Souza was going for.