“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”
— Ansel Adams
Pete Souza is a photojournalist. He also happens to be the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama. He was the primary subject of the National Geographic special and book The President’s Photographer, which described all the photographers who have had that job. His photos from the White House have been uploaded to Flickr for some time and are very worth checking out. A month or so ago, he also started posting photos to Instagram. You can follow him as @petesouza.
Besides being a rare glimpse into the political world of the President of the United States, this Instagram feed also offers a view into the head of a great photographer. Using the same, limited tools as the rest of us on Instagram, Pete Souza is showing what those tools are capable of doing.
Years ago, someone on the Photoshop team looked at the metadata from one of the White House photos and discovered that the latest version of the product was not being used to process the images. So the team sent a copy. The photographer (or the White House) sent the software back. It was a high priced gift that they could not for legal reasons accept. Although software is now used to create all digital photos, I also imagine that as photojournalists, the White House photographers cannot appear to be “Photoshopping” their images. Looking at the Instagram feed, most of the photos are very unfiltered, but there must be times when filters and frames are added.
Pete Souza is not doing selfies with POTUS. He is documenting history and working like a professional photographer. His experience shows in all the photos he takes, whether using a mobile phone or a DSLR. He is another example of an idea that many great artists express – it is the mind wielding the tools which is most important in the act of creation, not the tools themselves.
“It’s the singer not the song/ that makes the music move along.”
— Pete Townshend