President Obama's "Year in Photos" Will Rebuild Your Faith in Democracy

Pete Souza, the chief official White House photographer, doesn't have an easy job.

In an interview on Charlie Rose, Souza said that he "probably sees the president of the United States more than the first lady, his children or his chief of staff." It's not easy to slack off when the leader of the free world is your officemate — or when the White House press corps accuses you of "replacing independent journalism with visual press releases."

But despite the pressure behind the camera, Souza has managed to capture thousands of images of President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and guests of the White House in compelling photographs that manage to show the human side of being the most powerful person on earth.

"Each photograph, taken either by me or a photographer on my staff, is accompanied by my personal observations about the image," Souza said. "Most of the moments captured can best be described as behind the scenes — that is, photographs taken away from the spotlight of public events. Some of the photographs are historic because of what is taking place, but others hopefully give people a more personal sense of who the president and first lady are." 

Take a look:

Jan. 28, 2014

At the annual State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol, Chuck Kennedy captured this poignant moment between the First Lady and U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg.
Source: 
Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

Feb. 18, 2014

"A White House staff person had told Bill Murray where to stand, meaning before the greet. But when the President walked into the room, Murray stayed put, saying 'they told me to stand here.'"
Source: 
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

March 4, 2014

"The President was visiting a classroom at Powell Elementary School in Washington, D.C. A young boy was using a stethoscope during the class, and as the President was about to leave the room, the President asked him to check his heartbeat."
Source: 
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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 'House of Cards' Season 3 with a video clip eerily similar to this photograph."
Source: 
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

March 23, 2014

"A great moment captured by Amanda Lucidon of the First Lady and daughters Sasha and Malia during their visit to the Great Wall of China."
Source: 
Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon

April 14, 2014

"Amanda Lucidon captured this spontaneous moment as the First Lady hugged family pets Sunny and Bo during a video taping in the Map Room of the White House."
Source: 
Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon

April 21, 2014

"When the President saw this photograph hanging on the walls of the West Wing, he laughed and said, 'The two most famous sets of ears in Washington.'"
Source: 
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

April 28, 2014

"'Help me up!', the President beckoned after posing for a photograph with children at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, the Philippines."
Source: 
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

May 16, 2014

"A pretty self-explanatory moment by Chuck Kennedy, as the First Lady toured the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas."
Source: 
Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

May 24, 2014

"This photograph was from the annual White House Science Fair. It shows the President posing with Girl Scout Troop 2612 from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I think the 8-year-old girls."
Source: 
Official White House Photo Pete Souza

June 6, 2014

"The President talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin after a lunch with other foreign leaders to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. I'm sure they were talking about a subject matter other than D-Day."
Source: 
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

July 10, 2014

"During remarks on the economy in Austin, Texas, the President was heckled about immigration by two young men in the audience. After being interrupted again, the President told the men that he wanted to finish his speech but would be happy to have a conversation with them later. As soon as he left the stage, the President told his staff to bring the two men backstage so he could indeed talk to them about immigration."
Source: 
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Dec. 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."
Source: 
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Whether Obama is attending to matters of state or cuddling with his dog, the photo series shows a human side of the presidency that's often kept hidden. It's a reminder that the person sitting behind the Resolute Desk isn't just a face on a television but a real person. If Souza's goal was to show the people behind the leaders, mission accomplished.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Scott Bixby

Scott is a senior correspondent at Mic, covering the Republican presidential campaign and LGBT issues. He is based in New York and can be reached at scott@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.