Pete Souza served as the official White House photographer for a pair of two-term presidents, one a Republican hero, Ronald Reagan, and a Democratic hero: Barack Obama.
The son of Portuguese emigres, a nurse and a boat mechanic, Souza earned his master’s degree at Kansas State University and got his start in photojournalism at newspapers in Chanute and Hutchinson.
His lavish account of the Obama years, “Obama: An Intimate Portrait,” became a best-seller, and Souza followed it up with “Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents.” The new documentary “The Way I See It” grew out of those two books, and Souza’s subsequent tours and speaking engagements on the subject of the approximately 2 million photos he took during the Obama years.
The movie, which played at theaters in some cities, airs at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, on MSNBC.
Once Donald Trump took office, Souza says in the documentary, he couldn’t ignore the man’s disrespect for the office, for the rule of law, for so many people around the world. He says he couldn’t remain neutral about anything political anymore. “This is not a partisan thing to me,” he says in director Dawn Porter’s portrait of the onetime fly on the wall turned visual activist. “It’s about the dignity of the office of the presidency.”
The results pack a serious emotional wallop if you miss the Obama era. And, probably, nothing of the sort if you don’t.
With a lot of input from Souza, Porter’s film tells the stories behind the photos. Many have become famous, profoundly moving emblems of one politician’s humanity, such as