A Window into the White House

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  • President Barack Obama's staff photographers shoot between 20,000 and 80,000 images each month.

    How do Chief White House Photographer Pete Souza and White House Photo Editor Alice Gabriner evaluate a photograph's merit? Does the president approve all images released to the public? Watch this short video to find out.

    1. What does White House Photo Editor Alice Gabriner look for when selecting the right photographs to present to the public?

      She looks at a photograph’s sense of light, composition, color, and exposure.

      The most important elements, however, are "visceral connections" that offer Gabriner "something I haven't seen before."

    2. Under President Obama, who has final approval of the photographs his administration releases to the public?

      The White House communications staff has final approval of photographs.

    3. Why did President Obama decide not to personally approve all the photographs released to the public, while Lyndon B. Johnson did?

      President Obama would not have time.

      Digital photography has made it easier to take and distribute many more photographs. The Obama Administration photographers take 20,000–80,000 photographs per month, and distribute images through online portals, apps, and traditional media.

    4. Why do presidents and their staff review photographs before they are released?

      They review the photographs to make sure they portray a positive and accurate image of the president and the administration.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Age of Enlightenment Noun

    (1700s) period in European history where science and reason were promoted as ideals of good citizens and society.

    Lyndon Johnson Noun

    (1908-1973) 36th president of the United States.

    photography Noun

    art and science of producing still or moving images using the chemical reaction of light on a sensitive surface, such as film or an electronic sensor.

    Ronald Reagan Noun

    (1911-2004) 40th president of the United States.

    sitting president Noun

    incumbent president or president who is currently in office.