An American photojournalist and former Chief Official White House photographer, Pete Souza was in the city for the PEP Photo Summit 2019 and says he “finds the city, especially the traffic signals, very fascinating”. Impressed with the audience present for his talks, he says: “I was very impressed by the questions that came my way, they were thoughtful and very well articulated; it was very nice to see the kind of response photography has, especially from the youngsters.”
Going down the memory lane to the moment that got him hooked to photography, Pete says, “It was a photography class that I took up in college that gave me a taste of photography in the first place. Even as a kid, I didn’t take any pictures. But, after that one class in my junior year, I knew it right away that this was what I wanted to do the rest of my life.” he adds.
Pete shared his experiences of working with the Reagan administration and when asked about how he decides on which pictures to be made public, the 64-year-old photographer says, “The decision is not mine, every picture will be available. Right now, we’re at a point where every single picture that I made during the Reagan administration is online, you can actually go to the Reagan Library website, and look at all my proof sheets and see every single frame that I made. That’s the way it works in our country, it’s open access for everything, eventually.”
Throughout his time with Barack Obama, the former President of the United States of America, Pete has documented many things through his pictures and a large part of it was bringing out the lesser-known side of the President, his personality, nature, and who he is as a person.
Talking about it, he says, “That’s exactly what I tried to do. That was what I thought was a big part of my job, which was not necessarily just to cover the events, but to show what he was like as a human being, and how valuable that will be for generations to come. To be able to aid people that study this Presidency, this particular President, will have a real insight into what he was like, through my photographs.”
At the event, Pete was being referred to as a rock star of photography and there are many out there who consider him as their idol. When asked if he knew about the kind of influence he’s had, especially on the people on the other side of the ocean, he says, “I’m a little aware of that and I think the positive impact has been with other photographers that are documenting Prime Ministers and Presidents.”
Elaborating on this, Pete says, “Maybe, I’ve had a positive influence on them. And, maybe, my work has helped them explain to their President or Prime Minister the importance of documenting for history, his Presidency or his Prime Ministership. So, in that respect, I feel good that I’ve had at least a little bit of influence on them.”
Talking about the idea behind the Summit, Joseph Radhik, a celebrated wedding photographer and co-founder of PEP Summit, says: “It was about taking photography and inspiration off virtual space and bringing it into real-life. Pete has been my greatest inspiration for more than two decades now and I’m delighted to have him as part of the Summit.”