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tv   Obama  CSPAN  August 5, 2017 5:01pm-5:21pm EDT

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he gave me access to pretty much everything, and so i think this is -- i was able to create an archive of photographs that will live in perpetuity at the national archives. >> host: how long has a president had a professional photograph are like that. >> guest: the job first took hold during the kennedy administration. kennedy had two military photographers assigned to the white house, but then when lbj came in the hired this guy yokomoto, a civilian, the first one to document for history everything that johnson did, and he set the bar so high that i
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think every white house photographer has been trying to reach his level ever since. >> host: how do you get a gig like that? >> guest: it's david for each who is white house photographer. for me i got to meet then-senator obama, his first day the senate. i was work for the "chicago tribune," his homedown newspaper. was based in d.c., and got this assignment to document his first year in the senate. so, i got to know him. he got to know me. he liked my pictures. he liked the way i worked. i usually am a small footprint, try not to disturb what was taking place. so when he was elected president, he asked me to become his white house photographer. >> host: how many pictures in the eight years did you take of president obama? >> guest: what would your guess be? >> host: i kind of know. >> guest: oh. idon't know if i would have had
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a guess. probably would have said 300,000 4 , hundred thousand. >> guest: just under two million. when you add it up, you know, was there sometimes seven days a week, and it's not as many pictures as it really sounds. two million is a lot but it is over eight years, and it is over for the most part almost 360 days a year. so, -- >> host: what kind of clearance do you have to have? >> guest: top secret clears so able -- clearance so able to go into every national security meeting, which is important in terms of trying to document the important meetings of the presidency to have that kind of clearance. >> host: almost iconic photo of the president the night osama bin laden was killed. it that yours? >> guest: yes. >> host: tell me about that moment. >> guest: well, mean, that was actually in the afternoon. it was -- the interesting thing
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is about that photograph, is that really all the people -- all the decisionmakers in that room, the president, vice president, the chief of staff, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, there was nothing they could do. they already made their decision. they made the decision to launch this special forces mission, and now all they could do is watch. it was out of their hands. that's got to be kind of a anxious time for them, which i think is what is portrayed in the photograph that you see the tension, the anxiety. they didn't even know for sure if bin laden was there. they didn't know for sure this mission would succeed. and kind of risking his whole presidency on this one decision. so, i look at that picture and that's what i think, is that this -- there's a helplessness
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in some respect in that the decision had been made and nothing they could do except hope and watch. >> host: pete souza, did you know at that point what you had in that picture? >> guest: you know issue was in that program for 40 minutes. that is about how long the mission took. probably took maybe 100 pictures in that 40 minutes, and i had a lot of pictures throughout that day, think i took a thousand pictures that day. and then at the -- it was not until the next day i actually dead the editing and got it down to ten or 20 pictures. i thought it was a special photograph. i didn't know it was going to get the kind of attention it did. >> host: what is your favorite photograph of president obama? >> guest: i don't thick really have one. -- i don't think i really have one. it's kind of difficult decision to take eight years of work and
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narrow it down to one. i had a hard enough time taking those 1.96 million photographs and getting it down to 300 plus for the book. that was hard enough. to get that down to one? that's like really hard for me to say. >> host: out of the 300 in the book, what are a couple that you really like? >> guest: i would probably gravitate towards the ones that show him as a person. what was he like as a person? so, there's one of him playing in the snow with his girls when they were still young. there's one where a young kid is dressed up like spider-man, putting him in a web. another one where he on another halloween picture where ben rosen's daughter dressed up in an elephant costume, comes into
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the oval office and he lies down on the floor of the office and puts her up in the air. so it's those, like, unique moments that you key in, new over in know they're going to happen. it tells you a lot about his personality, what he is like as a person. and not just the weighy pictures of him in the situation room, or him agonizing over what is happening in syria, those kind of pictures are important and tell you a lot about his presidency but the other ones i mentioned tell you a lot about him as a person. >> host: did the president ever nix a photo you chose? >> guest: didn't really work that way. i think he trusted me if we were going to make public a picture, would pet out an appropriate picture. i think if you look at some of the early pictures we released,
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where he was dealing with the economic crisis and you would say these are not the pictures you see, his head in his hands. we were in this terrible economic situation, but i was trying be truthful to how he was dealing with this in his meetings. i think people thought they were appropriate to make public so that the public could see that how he was doing. then for then during the next presidential campaign they were used by the opposition and put in the wrong context. so that's the risk you take when you make public pictures like that. it's hard to control that they're shown in the proper context. >> host: ever a time when the president said, not now? >> guest: no. but i know him so well that i
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could tell when he needed some space, or i also came to learn if he had a one-on-one meeting with someone, where he really wanted to have a private conversation, that he didn't ever say this to me but i could sense it. he wanted me to make sure i got my pictures but then just kind of back out of the room. so i sort of learned how to do that over the course of the first six months. you have to learn how to do your job and how to do it in a way that he is comfortable with. >> host: would your camera click audibly? >> guest: it's a very good question. when i first started at the white house, i had to choose what kind of equipment to purchase for me and my staff,
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and the overright decision was choosing the quietest camera that at that time was made, and so this is why i -- at the time i chose the canon. very quiet shutter, didn't shoot with motor drives or a flash. tried to be what i call small footprint, not to disturb what is going on, use the quiet cam remark not the motor drive, not the flash. i think that helps a lot. >> host: your first time at the white house? >> guest: it was not. so, was also a white house photographer -- not the chief photographer but i was on the white house staff during the last five years of the reagan administration. and i'm either younger than i look or i was 12 at the time. idahoes say i was 12 at the time. so, i was in my 20s, and it was a good training ground for
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the second time around, because i sort of knew what needed to me bun issue knew the white house really well. knew how the logistics of being on the road worked. i think that helped a lot. having had that previous experience. >> host: could you good a whole day -- well, first of all, what were the differences between being on the staff at the reagan house and being the chief at the obama white house? >> guest: well, the biggest difference was i knew -- i had already established a relationship with president obama before he was president. so that had already been established. didn't know reagan at all. i wasn't -- my personal views tend to be more on the obama side than the reagan side, but i look at it as an opportunity to document history.
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with reagan, reagan was much more formal than president obama in that he would always wear a coat and tie, never take his suit coat off. president obama was much more informal. he would take his coat off. he was used to having a meeting with staff. with head of state always left his coat on. but much more informal. he would do things that weren't on the schedule all the time, and reagan pretty much stuck to his schedule. he was much younger than -- president obama was much younger than president reagan so he had a young family two young girls so that whole aspect of documenting that part of history. those kind of differences. one thing they were both similar in is they had similar dispositions in that took a lot
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to get ronald reagan mad or angry. same is true with president obama. not -- i saw both of them get mad and angry, but it would take a lot for that to happen. they both had this sort of even keel about them, that is probably the one similarity. >> host: on a typical day, could you go the entire day with president obama and basically never exchange words because you're both doing your jobs? >> guest: yeah. i did talk to him a lot, but i also knew my role as the observer. my job is documenting for history, but yet i was also established a friendship with him. so we did banter a lot but there would be days -- maybe like it would be 4:00, and there'd be a moment where we're alone and he'd say, how are you doing
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today? i'm doing great. how are you doing some and then talk about a game or this -- the basketball game, something like that. but there were certainly days where i wasn't haven an ongoing conversation with hem because that wasn't my role. >> host: how long did it take for him to get used to you? probably took him four or five months. he already knew how i worked and knew me, trusted me. >> host: but you weren't -- i think for anybody to be constantly being photographed has to be really annoying. it would be annoying for me. but i think after a while he saw the value of it, and he also -- the pictures that he loved were anytime he hung a picture of him with one of his girls in the west wing. those are the pictures he just loved more than anything. >> host: one of the ongoing stories during the transition is the president leave this white
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house to go up to the capitol, and then he is gone by the time the new president gets down, new photos are hung. how does that happen? well -- >> host: what this thought protest? sunny can only tell you how we did it. i can tell you about the beginning of the obama administration and the end of the obama administration. can't tell you much else. at the beginning of the obama administration, we had our glass -- even though it's digital, it's still called glass done we had them on standby for the night of the inauguration, so basically all the pictures we took on january 20th, 2009, were hanging on the wall of the west wing the following day because worked overnight. for the obama administration, the last three weeks we
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essentially hung the best photos of the eight years of the staff, the last couple weeks to reflect on what they had just been through, and then came a point in time where i just take all the pictures down, and it was kind of depressing actually, because all of a sudden the staff walks in the morning of january 20th, 2017, and it's just blank frames on the wall. i left the frame for the next administration. but there was nothing in them. so that was kind of strange feeling to walk out the door like that. >> host: petasos a, your book "obama and intimate portraitedment. a historic presidency in photograph" is it going to be what the call a consecutive identify table -- coffee table book? yes. 12 inches by ten inches, 352
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pages. it's going to weigh, like, six pounds, and it's -- more than six pounds. very heavyweight paper. so very definitely a coffee table book. there are some words in it, too, so -- there's some photographs where i tell the complete back story for the photograph. some of the photographs just have simple one-line captions and some have the extended back story to it. >> host: who own this rights to the photos? >> guest: we all do. we all do. >> host: so i could publish a book? you could but you weren't in the room. >> host: -- >> guest: that's the challenge and what i bring to the project. i think i've put together contextually the right group of photographs that tell you about his presidency and about him. it's coming from me, it's my
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view of it, but i think hopefully historians will feel i did justice to documenting that period. >> host: petasos a, former white house -- pete sousa, former white house photographer, the book comes out "obama, the historic presidency in photographs." >> here's a look at two books from vermont senator pat trick bash patrick leahy is reading. a story of two children struggling to survive in frat. and al franken's giant of the senate recalling his path from sat tiist to politician. booktv wants to know what you're reading. send us your summer reading list via at this timer, or instagram.
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or post it to our facebook page, booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. >> we're so glad 'er here today, we love people are coming to our programs. we are happy to hear larry goldstone. he is currently -- the third -- i don't know if there's another in your series on industrial innovators -- i remember the drive did quite well out of here, the one on ford. another one on the wright brothers as well. going deeps what we talk about tonight, on the development of the military submarine, john phillip holland. can't speak to submarines up out


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