18 Sep, 2020 08:00 am

A Love Letter to Obama Through White House Photographer Pete Souza’s Lens

Every four years, a few months before the presidential election, a batch of strategically timed movies materialize in hopes of engaging voters and influencing the outcome. Some are merely opportunistic, others downright propagandistic, but few have a shelf life past that first Tuesday in November. A warm, softball profile of Pete Souza, who had the

A warm, softball profile of Pete Souza, who had the unusual honor of serving as official White House photographer for two presidents of opposite parties, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, “The Way I See It” feels like it could carry on being relevant to audiences for decades to come.Porter includes a sound bite of David Gergen, White House communications director under Reagan, explaining, “The White House has become more and more the stage, a theater, and the question has become are the television networks going to manage that theater?Or is the White House going to do that?In some cases, one can sense the deliberate crafting by White House handlers of what might be called “photo opportunities,” as in an innocuous example where Ronald and wife Nancy water a tree (the clip rolls long enough to offer a charming glimpse into the leader’s fuddy-duddy sense of humor as well).

Souza says he’d never heard of Obama when he was first asked to photograph the politician at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 (many hadn’t), but when the charismatic orator was elected president four years later, Souza was invited back to the White House to document history.Souza trolls Trump so Obama doesn’t have to, and “The Way I See It” will get to that dimension of his personality in due time, but most of the documentary chooses to be less overtly partisan, celebrating the career of a photographer who played eyewitness to history, twice.

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