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How to Take Pictures Like the Official White House Photographer

We've gathered the rap on how Pete Souza documented the commander-in-chief in 2014.
"Lawrence Jackson scouted out a balcony position in the New Executive Office Building to photograph the President as he signed H.R. 3547, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, which at the time provided fiscal year 2014 appropriations."  (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) All images and captions via The White House's 2014: A Year in Photos

For Pete Souza, Director of Chief Official White House Photographer, documenting the President and the First Family every day of the year is no easy feat. Whether its from above, through a window, or near certain graphical elements, he and his team have to constantly find interesting new ways to frame the First Family. Often the most interesting photograph, much like an eclipse, occurs only when elements of the composition align perfectly for a single moment in time.


"Sometimes a unique angle makes all the difference," explains Souza in the description of the above photo, taken January 17, 2014. Released yesterday, the White House put their favorite photos from 2014 on display, alongside a plethora of Souza's reflections and captions of the historic captures. Among an intermix of humorous and serious moments, a few images in particular grabbed our attention—those that were a combination of pure luck and an eye for creative framing. So, how'd they do it? Below, let Souza explain how he and his staff got some of their best shots of the year:

March 5, 2014: "I love all the reflections in the mirrors of the First Lady and her staff in this photograph by Amanda Lucidon backstage at the Leading Women Defined Summit hosted by BET Networks in Miami, Florida." (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

March 7, 2014: "I'm always looking for different angles to frame the President as he boards Air Force One. I hadn't thought about including this one of the President and First Lady until Netflix released a video promotion of Season 3 with a video clip eerily similar to this photograph." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

March 17, 2014: "Returning from a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, I asked the pilots of the Marine One helicopter if I could photograph from the cockpit as we approached the White House." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


April 28, 2014: "A U.S. Secret Service agent shines a flashlight for the President as he walked to the motorcade from Marine One upon arrival at the Florento landing zone in Manila, the Philippines. I'm still kind of amazed that the current digital DSLR cameras are able to capture a scene like this with very little ambient light." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

June 9, 2014: "The President sits for a 3D portrait being produced by the Smithsonian Institution. There were so many cameras and strobe lights flashing but the end result was kind of cool. See the video at here."(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

July 23, 2014: "Occasionally, a graphic element becomes the key factor in an interesting photograph. Here, at Los Angeles International Airport, I ran out in front of Air Force One to preposition myself at a low angle to take advantage of the yellow stripe as the President walked off the plane." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

July 29, 2014: "An unusual angle can often be the key factor to an interesting photograph. Here, Chuck Kennedy was on the roof of the West Wing to capture the President as he walked from the Oval Office to the South Lawn of the White House to deliver a statement on the situation in Ukraine." (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

August 29, 2014: "I was on the second helicopter and arrived moments before Marine One touched down at Brenton Point in Newport, R.I. I bet one of the advance staff that after landing, instead of walking to the motorcade the President would walk across the road to view the ocean at sunset. I won the bet." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


August 29, 2014: "This view of the President reading briefing material was taken with a remote camera set up on the mantel above the fireplace in the Oval Office." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

October 15, 2014: "When the skies opened up one fall afternoon, I ventured outside the Outer Oval Office with my iPhone to try and capture a good Instagram of the rainstorm. The President saw me standing out on the White House colonnade and stepped outside himself. Fortunately, I also had my DSLR with me to capture this photograph as the President reached out to feel the raindrops." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

November 13, 2014: "I almost tripped coming down the stairs trying to make this photograph as the President turned the corner at the bottom of the stairs coming into this beautiful light casting shadows and and his silhouette at the Parliamentary Resource Center in Naypyitaw, Burma." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

December 1, 2014: "Following the outcry over the shooting of Michael Brown by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, the President invited young civil rights leaders to a meeting in the Oval Office. Many of them had protested in Ferguson. A 30-minute scheduled meeting last more than an hour. As the meeting broke up, the President continued the conversation for a few minutes and I then managed to frame the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the foreground." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)



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