You may not be familiar with the name Pete Souza, but you’ve definitely seen his photographs.
Souza was Official White House Photographer during Barack Obama’s administration from 2009-2016. He had with complete access to the President through every moment. Since that time, Souza’s gained notoriety for the constant shade he throws at the tweets that come from President Donald Trump. It’s safe to say that, after eight years spending extensive time with a man rich with character, values, and empathy, Souza’s just a little disappointed at how things have turned out with the new guy. In the new documentary, The Way I See It, audiences get to go in-depth into the world the of the presidency from through the eyes of a brilliant photographer.
Amazingly, Souza didn’t begin his career in the White House with Obama; instead, he first spent time taking photos during the Reagan era. The Way I See It shows us some revealing images and footage of Reagan, his wife Nancy, and the comfort they had in front of Souza’s lens. That’s just a small part of the film though; really, the crux is hearing Souza discuss his access to Obama during times of joy and sorrow.
Watching this excellent film, directed by Dawn Porter, I was filled with so many emotions, all of them captured through the work of of Pete Souza. There’s the optimism of the early Obama years, and there’s the sheer devastating heartache of watching the President confront the tragedy of Sandy Hook. I shed more than a few tears during that segment; I doubt many of us could have demonstrated the poise Obama did at the time.
While The Way I See It is in many ways a celebration of the Obama years and Pete Souza’s innate ability to capture so many moments, it’s also a sad and upsetting reminder of how much the world has lost over the last four years, watching what’s considered to be the most important job in the world become hijacked and overrun. Empathy has been replaced by ego, hope by hubris. After watching The Way I See It, it’s hard not to want to turn back the clock, and harder still not to fear for the future. Either way, the film is an excellent portrayal of a time, place, and man the likes of whom we might not see again.
The Way I See It hits theatres in Toronto Friday, September 18th