White House photographer turned Instagram hero gets book deal

Hail to the former chief White House photographer

Official White House photographer Pete Souza photographs President Barack Obama during his end-of-the-year news conference at the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Official White House photographer Pete Souza photographs President Barack Obama during his end-of-the-year news conference at the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Are you one of the 1.2 million people currently following Pete Souza, the official White House photographer for both President Barack Obama and President Ronald Reagan, on Instagram? If so, you’ve probably noticed something awfully pointed about the selections of photos and wording of captions since the election of a one President Donald Trump.

Here’s what Souza posted, for instance, when Trump announced a travel ban barring refugees (and citizens) from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States:

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And when Trump accused Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower before the election — “This is McCarthyism!” — Souza responded with this:

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And after photos made the rounds that some of the dignified guests Trump invited to the White House — Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, and Sarah Palin — posed beneath a portrait of Hillary Clinton while making juvenile, pouty expressions:

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The photos and attendant commentary have migrated from subtle shade to undeniable trolling. The latest stretch have focused on Obama’s first 100 days in office, highlighting Obama’s extensive foreign travel in that time, a pointed contrast to Trump’s failure to leave the country since he was sworn in (unless you count Florida). With every post, Souza all but writes in all caps under each frame, “this is what ‘being presidential’ looks like.”

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The sass has netted Souza a tremendous following, and he’s riding this new wave of popularity by publishing a book: Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs. According to Souza’s Instagram (meta, I know), the book is due out November 7. and will include more than 300 photographs, some with “detailed backstories.” As Souza told the New York Times, he’s culling those pictures from a collection of about 10,000. “There are pictures that certainly show [Obama] stressing in the Situation Room over major decisions,” Mr. Souza wrote the Times via email, “but also pictures of him interacting in fun moments with his girls.”

President Obama is making a concerted effort to avoid direct commentary on Trump or his policies. During his first post-presidency speech, Obama — in the grand tradition of former first lady Michelle — did not even mention President Trump by name. Souza’s Instagram, in a way, fills some of that silence, like a social media version of an anger translator. Souza’s feed is satisfying scroll for anyone appalled by Trump or (already) nostalgic for the Obama years — kind of the 2017 equivalent of watching The West Wing when George W. Bush was in office.

Plus, there are excellent shots of doggos:

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