From Reagan to Obama: Meet the White House photographer to two US Presidents

Pete Souza chats about moving from film to digital, offline to Instagram, and his thoughts on the current POTUS.

Pete Souza was the official White House photographer between 2009 and 2017, during the two-term Barack Obama presidency. He’s known as the guy who took that photo of Obama bending so a little boy could touch his hair; of the Obamas leaning into each other in the elevator on the day of the Inaugural Ball; of the American commander-in-chief pretending to be thrown backwards by a kid visiting on Halloween dressed as a tiny Spiderman.

What many people don’t know is that this was Souza’s second assignment at the White House. In the 1980s, Souza, now 64, was also an official photographer of the Republican Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

“President Obama gave me incredible access to make very intimate photographs, so people have gravitated towards those,” Souza says. “Reagan was in his 70s and very formal. Obama was 30 years younger, had a young family and was seemingly always on the move.”

The world was a vastly different place too, the second time around. Souza was now shooting in digital format and being encouraged to post his photographs on social media platforms. This turned him into an online sensation too, and gave America, and the world at large, a glimpse into the inner workings of the Oval Office — from swag to ceremony, celebrations to Seal 6 hits.

It helped that Souza has always had an eye for the little moments behind the scenes — fist bumps, hugs and brief conversations exchanged at back entrances made you feel you were there; almost where you shouldn’t have been. Last week, he visited India to give a talk and conduct a masterclass at the PEP Photo Summit in Hyderabad. Excerpts from an interview…

* What were the biggest differences between shooting the Reagan and the Obama years?

During the Reagan administration, we shot everything on film, so the processing was quite slow in terms of looking at pictures. During the Obama administration, we shot everything on digital files, so the processing was as fast as you wanted it to be.

Of course, the challenge with the digital files is storage. We were not allowed, by law, to delete any files, so all 1.9 million of the photographs I made are now at the National Archives.

Because of the technology and the explosion of social media, people were more familiar with my Obama photographs. But this was also because President Obama gave me incredible access to make very intimate photographs, so people have gravitated towards those. Reagan was in his 70s and very formal. Obama was 30 years younger, had a young family and was seemingly always on the move.

* Did you always know when an image would be a hit?

I didn’t really concern myself with this. I tried to make good photographs every day.

* What was the most surprising thing you experienced or learnt from your years as an official White House photographer?

Probably that there are a lot of good people in our government that are trying to do the right thing for the American people. That’s what is so disturbing to me about the current president; everything he does is about himself and his dwindling base. And it is so disturbing that he continually lies to the American people.

* What do you think of the current obsession with image and with capturing the moment?

Photography and images are the universal language. That’s a good thing.

* How do you think the world will look back on the age of Instagram and Snapchat?

Instagram is a powerful tool for image-makers. It really connects photographers from all walks of life… I’ve never used Snapchat and don’t know anything about it.

* What kind of projects keeps you busy these days?

I’m doing a lot of speaking and my producing and promoting my two books [Obama: An Intimate Portrait and Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents] have kept me quite busy. I’ve also managed to do a few new photography assignments. And I have some exciting projects underway but can’t yet share details.

A President who calls the press an enemy of the people is really dangerous: Former White House photographer

Former chief White House photographer Pete Souza speaks on press freedom and the challenges of documenting a president. 

Remember the picture of an intensely focused US President Barack Obama and his national security team huddled in the White House, receiving live updates from the operation which led to the killing of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan’s Abbottabad? This picture, titled ‘Situation Room’, was one of the nearly two million images captured by the then chief White House photographer Pete Souza to document Obama’s presidency. 

Souza, who served in the White House during the term of two presidents, including Ronald Reagan, will be speaking at a photography convention – the PEP Photo Summit – in Hyderabad on May 5. 

A celebrated photographer, who was also among the first journalists to cover the war in Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul after the 9/11 attacks, Souza says he’s had a couple of friends killed in war zones and another kidnapped. He says he swears by the mantra ‘photography is the one universal language’.

In an email interview with ET ahead of his Hyderabad trip, Souza said, referring to the current US President Donald Trump, that it is dangerous to have a president who calls the press “the enemy of the people”.

“Freedom of the press is a hallmark of my country and to have the president saying this is really, really alarming and really dangerous,” he said.

PEP was started four years ago by photographers Joseph Radhik, Joshua Karthik and Arjun Rajan as a platform to educate photographers about wedding photography. This is the fourth edition of the convention. 

Souza’s address will touch upon the importance of creating an archive of authentic images for history and the challenges of documenting a president. “Given that I’ve covered war zones, photographing the president was not as difficult as some of the things I’ve done in my life. Barack Obama trusted me and gave me unfettered access to document his presidency which paved the way to make it less difficult. The challenge was really never having any free time off because history happened every day,” Souza said. Asked to mention his one advice to budding photographers, Souza said, “Photograph things that matter. Try to photograph in your own unique way and don’t try to copy others.” 

The photographer, who has garnered much attention for his tweets against Trump on social media that use archival photos to make indirect comments on Trump’s actions, feels it’s important to connect with photographers from across the globe because they look at things in a different way. “I hope I can show the way I approach my photography from my perspective; at the same time, I want to learn how Indian photographers approach their medium,” he said.

While this will not be Souza’s first visit to India – he was part of Barack Obama’s entourage here twice – this will be his first trip to Hyderabad, and he said he was looking forward to soaking in the historical culture here. 

“I’ve been to India twice before with President Obama but didn’t really have the chance to wander around at all. I’ve never been to Hyderabad. I guess I’d like to stroll around the Charminar because it seems that would give me a good sense of what the city is about,” he said. 

Mumbai Diary: Tuesday Dossier

The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

An Indo-Pak Production

Airport staffers leave duty with a smile as they spot tennis player Sania Mirza with son Izhaan on their way out on Monday. 

Worth A Thousand Words

"I've never seen so many photographers in one hall!" Prashant Godbole, veteran Mumbai-based photographer from the world of advertising told this diarist as he recounted his experience of being at the recently concluded PEP Photo Summit in Hyderabad.

Attended by over 1,500 participants, it was Pete Souza, the official photographer for Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, who gave the keynote talk. Having met him briefly at the event, Godbole told us about how despite photographing individuals, their genres are vastly different.

What's Brewing?

The latest episode of Game of Thrones has sent fans into a tizzy - not with its plot but over a Starbucks cup that was spotted in front of Daenerys Targaryen during a scene. The current season of the show has received backlash with fans commenting that it is too dark. Thus, naturally, people took a dig at the cinematographer again. "The fact that there was a Starbucks cup in tonight's GoT that no producers or editors noticed throughout multiple cuts merely one week after the DP yelled that the show's not too dark to see is truly *chef's kiss*," a user tweeted. Some even declared their sympathy for the person responsible, while some were busy speculating the coffee flavour the protagonist was sipping on. Well, the editors are going to need some caffeine to edit the gaffe out for its DVD release.

A Songbook To Cherish

Music plays a key role in theatre, but when it comes to productions made for children and young audiences, it becomes all the more important with simple tunes and rhymes becoming a conduit to convey emotions and messages. On its 10th anniversary, city-based Gillo Theatre Repertory chose to celebrate this very facet at a private event held recently, where musicians played several songs from productions staged by the company in the past decade. But what warmed the hearts of the attendees was the release of the Gillo Song Book, a treasure trove of songs from all their plays, compiled by Jigna Khajuria and Janit Temkar and edited by art director Shaili Sathyu. This one's for keeps.

Taste Of Success

Home chef and owner of Bawa Bride, Perzen Patel serves authentic Parsi cuisine in the city out of her kitchen. Patel's culinary skills, for which she was also nominated at this year's The Guide Restaurant Awards presented by mid-day, have now earned her the World Zoroastrian Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She posted, "I am humbled and thankful that my small attempt at shining a light on Parsi food has been recognised."

Eid Comes Early For Ankola

Ramazan brings with it truck loads of food memories; be it tucking into a range of treats in crowded streets, or indulging in lavish iftar offerings in a friend's home, and of course, the promise of great biryani, kebab and pots of sweltering haleem. But who would've thought that this year, the harbinger of great grub is going to be ex-cricketer and actor Salil Ankola. Turns out, Ankola's fists are good not only for bowling, but have also the seasoned mastery of a khansama. "I started cooking in 1994 and haven't stopped since. My mother used to make amazing biryani, so I picked up the skill and often make it at home," the first-time restaurateur tells us, as he readies to lift the lid off his new venture, Salz Biryani, a delivery-only joint, which is expected to start services in another 15 days, with its first outlet in Goregaon, followed soon by another one in Andheri. "My wife, children and I are all foodies and I had been thinking about starting something since the '90s. Now, I finally have my own venture, and I am hoping to learn the tricks of the trade, so that I can maybe even open a full-fledged restaurant in the future," he told this diarist.

Revolutionising photography

Photography enthusiasts had a great time in getting to know about the art and science of photography from world’s renowned professionals.

More than 1500 enthusiastic and professional photographers from 18 countries came down to be part of the 4th edition of PEP Photo Summit 2019 — Asia’s largest Photography learning convention — held in Hyderabad on Friday.

The three- day unique summit, which will be taking place till Sunday, provides an insight into learning the art, business, and craft of photography through the fresh perspective of budding as well as established photographers.

 Learning, socialising and networking with some of the most inspiring people in the industry will help kickstart new and creative ideas for photographers to perfect their skills.

The tradeshow exhibits, workshops, classrooms, break-out sessions for budding photographers, and insightful thoughts from eminent photographers have enabled the enthusiasts to engross in the engaging sessions and in turn, making it an enriching experience for those who attend it.

One of the key speakers Arjun Menon, an editorial travel, fine arts photographer from Mumbai, shared his inspirational story on why he took to Photography. Neelima Vallangi, a travel photographer for several years, emphasised on how the profession is niche yet alluring in every aspect.

Another speaker Victoria Krundysheva, art & creative director, recounts the challenges she faced when she decided to make a career in being a conceptual fashion photographer.

Chennai-based wedding photographer Amar Ramesh states that such summits will drive change in the Photography industry.

“There’s a revolution that’s started in photography industry in India. With advent of technology and social media, youngsters are not afraid to venture into niche areas (like photography). Also, the love for the art is only growing,” shares an excited Amar.

Joseph Radhik, one of the founders of PEP, shares that the idea of organising this summit is to set a parallel and open discussion for photography as a business and art, and the way it is done in the world and in the region.

“PEP stands for Professional Enthusiast Photographers. I have been planning since a long time to organise workshops for Photography industry and create a lasting impact and leave a legacy. We have realised that community is more important than education. Since Photography is a self-taught profession, photographers find it difficult to find people to talk about their work. So at PEP, photographers can find a family. It a great platform to learn from renowned photographers and be around like-minded people who share the same love and passion. And so far the response has been amazing and we are hoping that the numbers will grow in the next two days,” explains Joseph.

Asia’s largest photography learning convention held in Hyderabad

Attendees from Hungary to Haryana touch down in city for the three-day event

More than thousand enthusiasts and professional photographers from 100+ cities, across the world, came down to be part of PEP Photo Summit 2019, Asia’s largest photography learning convention.

The fourth edition took place in the city which was held from May 3 to 5. The three-day unique summit provided an insight into learning the art, business, and craft of photography through the perspective of budding and established photographers.

Pete Souza, the former White House photographer who has served as official photographer for US Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, was the keynote speaker and conducted a masterclass to share his knowledge with the audience. Souza has also worked for National Geographic and Life magazines. After September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he was amongst the first journalists to cover the war in Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul.

Another International celebrity photographer was from New York, Lindsay Adler, who is one of the world’s leading fashion photographers.

PEP started in 2016 as an effort to bring together the community of portrait photographers, photojournalists, wedding photographers and enthusiasts in India and abroad. It was founded by Joseph Radhik, Joshua Karthik and Arjun Rajan, who are photographers and management graduates with over 30 years of corporate experience among themselves.

Underwater is Anup J Kat’s favourite backdrop

Well-known Indian photographer Anup J Kattukaran specialises in customised photo shoots and describes the world under the ocean as ‘unique and fascinating’

A specialist in underwater photography and customised photo shoots in water, ace photographer Anup J Kattukaran, who prefers to be called Anup J Kat, says diving in has a calming effect on him. Anup was in the city for the PEP Photography Summit where he shared his experiences.

“Initially, it was about being different from the other photographers. I started off by trying something else and that’s how underwater happened,” Anup says, while talking about how he came about becoming an underwater photographer. Talking about his experiences under the ocean, he says, “The world under water is extremely fascinating. It’s new, it’s different and I think it’s something everyone should experience at least once.”

Once he started diving, he fell in love with the world under the ocean and a desire to capture it took roots in him. And, that’s how, he thought of combining two of his greatest loves, photography and the world under water. “I looked at it as an opportunity of growth. It calms me down and there is always something new that I learn after each dive,” says the photographer.

When asked about his wedding shoots under water and if it is difficult to convince people to get into water, all decked up, he says, “I first shot a friend of mine under water in her wedding attire and, after that, things picked up. People approached me, and not the other way round. Underwater wedding shoots became a reason for people to call me, not because of the wedding photo shoot, but because of the whole under water concept. So, I never really had to convince anyone much.”

Underwater photography is unlike other genres, says Anup while talking about the specifics of it. “Time is the biggest constraint for an underwater photographer. We get a maximum of 45 minutes because any longer than that, the oxygen supply is going to run out. So, we have to dive in, find something, hopefully, frame it well, shoot and get out, all within that time limit. That is, assuming all your equipment works well.”

Diving, in itself, requires a lot concentration and skill. There are a lot of things one needs to keep in mind before and during their time underwater and taking a camera down will only add to the amount of things that one needs to take care of. Asked about the kind of preparation and precautions involved, Anup says, “First is to become a good diver and, then, pick up a camera, maybe after 50 dives, because I made a mistake initially. When I got my certification, I immediately picked up a camera and just dived in. I was a really bad diver because I was more interested in shooting things; I would break coral and stuff. Now, I tell everyone first become a good diver and shooting will come naturally.”

Secondly, he says, never go outside the dive plan. “Don’t ever try to be a hero. Check on your gear, and do it yourself. If there is a new diving buddy, make sure you get to know each other as both of you will need to watch each other’s back down there,” he suggests.

Ask Anup if there were any goof-ups or near-death experiences, the 37-year-old says, “Thankfully, I’ve had none. I swam with sharks and dove into some very deep waters, but, nothing happened so far, and I prefer it that way.”

Setting the right frame!

The fourth edition of PEP Photo Summit, Asia's largest photography learning convention, had the renowned American photojournalist Pete Souza as the keynote speaker at the event. Pete, the former Chief Official White House Photographer for US Presidents Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan shared the art and science of photography at PEP. Pete visited India twice, however, this is the first time he came to Hyderabad. "I liked the city very much. We got to walk around Charminar and the markets around the monument are really a visual delight."

About the PEP summit, he said, "I was at Lynci Alider's presentation and the crowd looked very attentive. Professional photographers were part of the audience, they asked enthusiastic questions and I sort of got a sense of the type of people I would be talking to." Pete conducted two sessions on the third day of the summit. "The first session was about shade and how I have become an outspoken critic of the current president, comparing things with some of the things that he said with President Obama. The second presentation that I had in the afternoon focused on Obama and his presidency."

Working with the President at the White House and making their tenure memorable is something Pete is known for; when asked about which president was photogenic and who was really fun to work with he said: "I think it was President Obama, just because of his mannerism and the way he used to behave with people was probably more natural than President Ray (Ronald Reagan) as he was his 70's. I knew Obama closely so certainly that would be the reason I would choose him."

Pete recently came out with two photo book – 'Obama: An Intimate Portrait', and 'Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents'.

Every picture has something to say and on asking Pete about what it takes for a picture to be called world class he said, "For me, it is something that has a unique moment and has some artistic flaunts."

"No matter what I photograph nothing has really changed be it the White House with the president, war zones, etc. My approach hasn't changed. I am not a different kind of photographer in each of those circumstances; it is the same way of which is looking for spontaneous images, convey the mood and the motion of it."

Explaining his experiences in the war zone he said, "I was very scared. I think that Afghanistan war made me realise that I am not meant to be a war photographer. But I am glad that I had those experiences which showcased the real insight to what it means to be at war and being on the front line of war."

The world has transitioned to digital and about the difference Pete finds in film and digital, he said, "I started out shooting with a film-like anyone else in my generation. I think digital is much easier in terms of the processing aspect. The challenge with digital photography is storage and making sure that you're adequately backed-up in multiple places as in film you don't have to worry about that. Your negatives ate your negatives and you can check those."

"The quality of the digital cameras now is so good; I think that it is only the aesthetic choice to use film. I have some of my friends who are still shooting on black and white film and it is an aesthetic decision to take."

Talking about mobile photography Pete shared, "I think there is a lot of good and bad mobile photography. I think it depends on that particular person that's creating these images. Smartphones have such a good camera these days. Some people don't really know how to use them, just because you have a good camera that doesn't mean the pictures would be good. I also think that it also depends on the person who is framing it and clicking the picture."

Shutterbugs from across the world converge at PEP Photo Summit in Hyderabad

• Shutterbugs from across the world converge at PEP Photo Summit in Hyderabad, Obama’s photographer Pete Souza delivers Keynote

Hyderabad, India, May 6, 2019 : PEP Photo Summit, 2019 – Asia’s biggest photography event is taking place in Hyderabad. The five day convention saw some of the biggest names of photography from across the world share their learnings and experiences with budding photographers and photography enthusiasts.

This year former white house photographer Pete Souza, fashion photographer Lindsay Adler, world renowned wedding photographer Joseph Radhik, veteran photographer from advertising world, Prashant Godbole, Photography Gurus Siva Haran, Auditya Venkatesh, Arjun Kamath among many others shared their craft with 1500+attendees from more than 150 cities across the world. The Summit is being held in Hyderabad from 3rd to 5th May.

There will also be day-long masterclasses and workshops for practicing photographers on 6th and 7th May 2019.PEP also hosted PEP Shots which saw several social media influencers talk about their journey from being a regular Instagram user to an influential one with millions of followers.

The keynote speaker at the summit was Pete Souza- Former Chief Official White House Photographer for Barack Obama and Ronald Regan. He has also covered the war in Afghanistan post 9/11 and the fall of Kabul. Pete spoke about his years with Barack Obama, showing the intimate side of the person behind the president’s office. He also drew parallels between Obama and Donald Trump presidency from his book “Shade.” He had earlier visited India with the former president and first lady during their presidency years. Pete also conducted a masterclass on how photographers and their work can be an eyewitness to history.

During the event, PEP co-founder Joshua Karthik said, “We don’t look at PEP as any ordinary conclave. It is a community where professionals, amateurs, enthusiasts meet and share their knowledge and experiences. Looking at the overwhelming response, we plan to hold many such summits across the country and reach to even larger groups of photography lovers and make them part of our community”

PEP was founded by Joseph Radhik, Joshua Karthik and Arjun Rajan, who are photographers and management graduates with over 30 years of corporate experience among themselves. Some of the past speakers at PEP include Pulitzer Prize Winner- Brian Smith, Roberto Valenzuela, Two Mann Studios, and many other national and international photographers.

Speaking about PEP, Pete Souza said, “It’s wonderful to see that the work I do has made such a global influence. I’m impressed with Joseph Radhik’s conviction towards PEP, which is what convinced me to come speak at the summit.

Joseph Radhik and Joshua Karthik, are also the co-founders of awarding winning brand “Stories by Joseph Radhik”. They are the photographers behind the well-celebrated weddings of Virat Kohli – Anushka Sharma, Priyanka Chopra – Nick Jonas amongst many others. Joseph is an international award winning wedding photographer with his most notable achievements being: the first and only Indian to be chosen as a Global Ambassador for Sony, starting in a global ad campaign for Profoto, and being listed in GQ’s 50 Most Influential Young Indians for 2018.

Joshua Karthik is the youngest recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award 2016 XLRI for entrepreneurship. He began his career with a large MNC, where he spent 8 years across several stints in sales and marketing. In 2012, he and his brother founded “Stories by Joseph Radhik” to become one of the pioneers in the wedding photography industry in India.

Arjun Rajan has 8 years of international experience in managing large operations. A Procter & Gamble alumnus, his last stint was at P&G Geneva. He joined the brothers Joseph and Joshua to co-found PEP and runs the operations of the company. Their idea behind PEP Photo Summit was to go beyond the usual “conference” or “festival” or “seminar”. At the heart of PEP is something the founders take very seriously – curation.

Hyderabad is fascinating, says former White House photographer Pete Souza

“I was very impressed by the questions that came my way, they were thoughtful and very well articulated; it was very nice to see the kind of response photography has, especially from the youngsters.”

An American photojournalist and former Chief Official White House photographer, Pete Souza was in the city for the PEP Photo Summit 2019 and says he “finds the city, especially the traffic signals, very fascinating”. Impressed with the audience present for his talks, he says: “I was very impressed by the questions that came my way, they were thoughtful and very well articulated; it was very nice to see the kind of response photography has, especially from the youngsters.”

Going down the memory lane to the moment that got him hooked to photography, Pete says, “It was a photography class that I took up in college that gave me a taste of photography in the first place. Even as a kid, I didn’t take any pictures. But, after that one class in my junior year, I knew it right away that this was what I wanted to do the rest of my life.” he adds.

Pete shared his experiences of working with the Reagan administration and when asked about how he decides on which pictures to be made public, the 64-year-old photographer says, “The decision is not mine, every picture will be available. Right now, we’re at a point where every single picture that I made during the Reagan administration is online, you can actually go to the Reagan Library website, and look at all my proof sheets and see every single frame that I made. That’s the way it works in our country, it’s open access for everything, eventually.”

Throughout his time with Barack Obama, the former President of the United States of America, Pete has documented many things through his pictures and a large part of it was bringing out the lesser-known side of the President, his personality, nature, and who he is as a person.

Talking about it, he says, “That’s exactly what I tried to do. That was what I thought was a big part of my job, which was not necessarily just to cover the events, but to show what he was like as a human being, and how valuable that will be for generations to come. To be able to aid people that study this Presidency, this particular President, will have a real insight into what he was like, through my photographs.”

At the event, Pete was being referred to as a rock star of photography and there are many out there who consider him as their idol. When asked if he knew about the kind of influence he’s had, especially on the people on the other side of the ocean, he says, “I’m a little aware of that and I think the positive impact has been with other photographers that are documenting Prime Ministers and Presidents.”

Elaborating on this, Pete says, “Maybe, I’ve had a positive influence on them. And, maybe, my work has helped them explain to their President or Prime Minister the importance of documenting for history, his Presidency or his Prime Ministership. So, in that respect, I feel good that I’ve had at least a little bit of influence on them.”

Talking about the idea behind the Summit, Joseph Radhik, a celebrated wedding photographer and co-founder of PEP Summit, says: “It was about taking photography and inspiration off virtual space and bringing it into real-life. Pete has been my greatest inspiration for more than two decades now and I’m delighted to have him as part of the Summit.”

Asia's Biggest Photography Show - PEP Summit 19- begins in Hyderabad

Hyderabad, May 3 (UNI) A 3-day PEP Summit 2019, Asia’s biggest Photography was began here on Friday.

Pete Souza, the former White House Photographer and who has served as official photographer for US Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, Fashion Photographer Lindsay Adler, and Photography Gurus like Siva Haran, Auditya Venkatesh and Joseph Radhik among others sharing their craft with people from 100+ cities across the world, who attending the 3-day event. Souza, who is the keynote speaker at the event, conducting a master class to share his knowledge with the audience.

Souza has also worked for National Geographic and Life magazines. After September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Souza was amongst the first journalists to cover the war in Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul.

There will also be day- long master classes and workshops for practicing photographers on the second and third day.

One of the unique aspect of this event is live shoots in studio spaces lit with professional lights and PEP shots where people can learn from their favorite young instagrammers. PEP was founded by Joseph Radhik, Joshua Karthik and Arjun Rajan, who are photographers and

management graduates with over 30 years of corporate experience among themselves. This year , the convention with three days of talks, classes, and workshops by a curated panel of photography experts from various walks of life.

Pete on what it means to be a photographer

Former White House Photographer to share his experiences at photo summit

Pete Souza still remembers the day in May when the hunt for terrorist Osama Bin Laden reached the climatic moment.

“While we were in that room for 40 minutes, I shot 102 pictures, and during the day, I shot more than a thousand as a lot of things were going on,” says the former Chief Official White House Photographer. Mr. Souza is in Hyderabad for the three-day PEP Photo Summit and would share his experiences as a photographer on Sunday with the participants of the event.

Reminiscing the day, he gesticulates expansively and says: “I was like holy s**t this is a big moment. There are some days when wild things happen, and you realise you are in the middle of something historic. I think that day we all know what happened. It could have turned out a lot differently, and it would have been the end of his presidency.” Mr. Souza confessed that the ramifications of what was happening played on in his mind during the tense moments.

Asked whether he would like to photograph the Trump presidency, Mr. Souza has an emphatic no. “Why? Because I think he is a vile human being. I think there has to be a certain amount of respect if you want to photograph someone every day during the presidency. I don’t think I can do that. I can photograph him as an outsider, but I can never be his White House photographer,” said Mr. Souza, who has had stints as a photojournalist besides capturing Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

“After the White House stint, I am keeping busy, but a different kind of busy. I am doing many different things, some photography and interviews like this,” said Mr. Souza with a laugh.

It was during Mr. Souza’s time with President Barack Obama that the social media revolution gained traction and he jumped right in by releasing the photographs on a photo sharing site.

“My job was to create the best archive of his presidency. And to hopefully show people how he was not just a president but a person. It was my job to show him as the kind of person he was,” said Mr. Souza.

Asia’s largest photography learning convention held in Hyderabad

Attendees from Hungary to Haryana touch down in city for the three-day event

More than thousand enthusiasts and professional photographers from 100+ cities, across the world, came down to be part of PEP Photo Summit 2019, Asia’s largest photography learning convention.

The fourth edition took place in the city which was held from May 3 to 5. The three-day unique summit provided an insight into learning the art, business, and craft of photography through the perspective of budding and established photographers.

Pete Souza, the former White House photographer who has served as official photographer for US Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, was the keynote speaker and conducted a masterclass to share his knowledge with the audience. Souza has also worked for National Geographic and Life magazines. After September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he was amongst the first journalists to cover the war in Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul.

Another International celebrity photographer was from New York, Lindsay Adler, who is one of the world’s leading fashion photographers.

PEP started in 2016 as an effort to bring together the community of portrait photographers, photojournalists, wedding photographers and enthusiasts in India and abroad. It was founded by Joseph Radhik, Joshua Karthik and Arjun Rajan, who are photographers and management graduates with over 30 years of corporate experience among themselves.

PEP Photo Summit to kick off on May 3

Narsingi: PEP Photo Summit 2019, one of the top photography festivals in the world, has partnered with Sony and Fujifilm as brand partners for its 4th edition to be held this year in Hyderabad from May 3 to 5 May at OM Convention Narsingi, Hyderabad.

According to organisers, this event brings the biggest global names in photography and thousands of photography enthusiasts together, as PEP is Asia's largest platform for learning the ABC (Art, Business, and Craft) of photography.

The 3-day event which celebrates photographers and educates enthusiasts from around the world has seen massive reach and impact since its inception. PEP brings photographers from all around the world to one platform including keynote speakers Jerry Ghionis, Brian Smith and Ira Block addressing photographers from at least 102 cities and 9 countries.

PEP Photo Summit 2019 organises three days of talks, classes, and workshops by a curated panel of educators and inspirations. Whether one is an enthusiast, professional or simply a lover of photography, there's something for everyone here. Post the event there will be day-long photography workshops for practicing photographers on May 6 and 7, said press release.

On photography and its nuances

Three-day PEP Photo Summit-2019 begins in city

Flashbulbs popped at PEP Photo Summit in Hyderabad on Friday, as the uniquely-curated event brought together some of the leading lights of photography and talented photographers from across the country. Positioned as a meeting ground for photographers, this is the fourth in a series of events aimed at creating a learning experience for professionals in the industry, said the organisers.

Learning conference

Over the next three days, a range of photography events has been lined up at the venue. “This is a photography learning conference where people will meet their favourite photographers,” said Joshua Karthik, one of the brains behind the PEP.

“Photography has become a medium of self-expression just like what a summer camp used to be. The device is now cheap, allowing you to express yourself. It has become a democratic art. This conference will give a perspective on what all one can do and learn,” said Mr. Karthik.

Among the photographers who are expected to hold workshops and give pep talks are Pete Souza, the former chief official White House photographer, Lindsay Adler, the New York-based fashion photographer, Amar Ramesh of Studio A, Christ Knight, an instructor at New York Film Academy, and a host of other well-known names in the business.

Revolutionising photography

Photography enthusiasts had a great time in getting to know about the art and science of photography from world’s renowned professionals.

More than 1500 enthusiastic and professional photographers from 18 countries came down to be part of the 4th edition of PEP Photo Summit 2019 — Asia’s largest Photography learning convention — held in Hyderabad on Friday.

The three- day unique summit, which will be taking place till Sunday, provides an insight into learning the art, business, and craft of photography through the fresh perspective of budding as well as established photographers.

 

Learning, socialising and networking with some of the most inspiring people in the industry will help kickstart new and creative ideas for photographers to perfect their skills.

The tradeshow exhibits, workshops, classrooms, break-out sessions for budding photographers, and insightful thoughts from eminent photographers have enabled the enthusiasts to engross in the engaging sessions and in turn, making it an enriching experience for those who attend it.

One of the key speakers Arjun Menon, an editorial travel, fine arts photographer from Mumbai, shared his inspirational story on why he took to Photography. Neelima Vallangi, a travel photographer for several years, emphasised on how the profession is niche yet alluring in every aspect.

Another speaker Victoria Krundysheva, art & creative director, recounts the challenges she faced when she decided to make a career in being a conceptual fashion photographer.

Chennai-based wedding photographer Amar Ramesh states that such summits will drive change in the Photography industry.

“There’s a revolution that’s started in photography industry in India. With advent of technology and social media, youngsters are not afraid to venture into niche areas (like photography). Also, the love for the art is only growing,” shares an excited Amar.

Joseph Radhik, one of the founders of PEP, shares that the idea of organising this summit is to set a parallel and open discussion for photography as a business and art, and the way it is done in the world and in the region.

“PEP stands for Professional Enthusiast Photographers. I have been planning since a long time to organise workshops for Photography industry and create a lasting impact and leave a legacy. We have realised that community is more important than education. Since Photography is a self-taught profession, photographers find it difficult to find people to talk about their work. So at PEP, photographers can find a family. It a great platform to learn from renowned photographers and be around like-minded people who share the same love and passion. And so far the response has been amazing and we are hoping that the numbers will grow in the next two days,” explains Joseph.

Photographer Pete Souza on capturing two White House presidencies

The former Chief Official White House Photographer, known for his iconic images of the Obama presidency, is in Hyderabad for a photography summit

If you follow Pete Souza – the American photojournalist who served as the Chief Official White House Photographer for US Presidents Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan – you will know that he is not shy about his disdain for Donald Trump.

Souza, currently in Hyderabad as keynote speaker and masterclass host for the PEP Photo Summit, is quick to clarify that his outspoken views do not stem from partisan politics. “I worked for both a Republican and a Democrat,” he points out. “I just think Trump disrespects the office of the Presidency and I feel it is my civic duty to speak out in my own small way.”

During his eight-year-tenure chronicling Obama, Souza and his team captured around 20,000 pictures a week. This includes the now-viral shot taken in the White House’s situation room during the raid on Osama bin Laden, and the President playing with a security advisor’s daughter in the Oval Office.

The approach towards chronicling Reagan and Obama, says the photographer, was the same. But social media and digital photography meant that the latter’s images reached a larger audience, making Souza well known across the world. “I would have made the same pictures regardless of whether they were for immediate consumption or just for the archive,” he clarifies.

But eight years, he points out, “is a long time in terms of having no personal life”, given that the job was an ‘around-the-clock’ one. “So I was relieved and happy when we walked out the door on the last day. The most difficult adjustment is my entire work family all went their separate ways all at once. These are people I interacted with every day, and suddenly January 20, 2017, comes along and it’s over.”

Even though his background is as a journalist, Souza sees his role as a visual historian. As he correctly points out, “Since I was working for the government, it’s difficult to call it journalism.” But he drew from his early experience to take authentic photographs, which, with their depictions of intimate moments of the president and his family, helped endear the Obamas to the world.

Since leaving the White House, Souza has published two books. The first, Obama: An Intimate Portrait, is self-explanatory. The second, Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents, places photographs of the former president next to tweets from Donald Trump. When asked if he would be interested in chronicling another White House presidency, he responds with an emphatic “No!”.

PEP Photo Summit at OM Convention, Hyderabad

A three-day photography festival for both professionals and amateurs. Asia’s biggest photography learning conference that features workshops, talks and panel discussions. The event has over 40 photographers and entrepreneurs who will conduct workshops and talks.

Dates - May 3 to May 5

Venue - OM Convention, Narsingi.

Price - Rs. 4200 for the three-day pass

PEP Photo Summit 2019

This year, the Summit is being held in Hyderabad from May 3 to 5.

Asia’s largest photography learning convention, will have the renowned American photojournalist Pete Souza as their keynote speaker at the event. For the first time in India, Pete, the former Chief Official White House Photographer for US Presidents Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, will be sharing the art and science of photography at the 4th edition of PEP.

Known to be one of the best photographers in the world, Pete Souza has unparalleled insights into the art and craft of photography. He was the Director of the White House Photography Office and has served as an official White House photographer for President Ronald Reagan from June 1983 until 1989.

Souza has also worked as a freelancer for National Geographic and Life magazines. After September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he was amongst the first journalists to cover the war in Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul.

PEP which was started by Joseph Radhik, Joshua Karthik and Arjun Rajan as a convention to educate photographers about wedding photography, has established itself as one of the most prestigious photography summits in the world today.

This year, the Summit is being held in Hyderabad from May 3 to 5. Pete will be addressing about 2,500 photography professionals and enthusiasts who are expected to come together to learn the Art, Business, and Craft of photography.

1,500 shutterbugs to descend on Hyderabad this weekend

Joseph Radhik, Joshua Karthik and Arjun Rajan, the co-founders of PEP Photo Summit, had created it with an objective to teach the intricacies of ‘living for the image’.

HYDERABAD: One of the top photography festivals in the world, PEP Photo Summit 2019, is being held at Om Convention, Narsingi, Hyderabad from May 3 to 5. In partnership with Sony and Fujifilm, the expo would bring some of the biggest global names in photography along with enthusiasts.

Over 1,500 participants have reportedly enrolled in the event thus far, and 28 speakers are scheduled to address the three-day expo. US, Canada, South Africa, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Portugal, Qatar are the countries taking part, apart from India.

Pete Souza, chief official White House photographer for former US Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama would be the keynote speaker for the event on May 5. He is visiting India for the first time for this show.

Other keynote speakers include prominent photographers such as Lindsay Adler, Jerry Ghionis, Brian Smith, Ira Block, Jesh De Rox, Mauricio Arias, Brendan de clerq, Roberto Valenzuela, among others. 
The three-day expo features talks, classes and workshops by a curated panel of educators. Topics include story telling, automobile photography, wildlife, nightscapes, storage workflows, etc. The workshop also includes live shoots with professional lights in 10 studio spaces.

Joseph Radhik, Joshua Karthik and Arjun Rajan, the co-founders of PEP Photo Summit, had created it with an objective to teach the intricacies of ‘living for the image’. They are the photographers behind the well-celebrated weddings of Virat-Anushka, Priyanka-Nick, Isha Ambani-Anand Piramal, amongst others. As of going to print, the price of entry pass is `4,200 (plus GST) per person. Today is the last day for enrolling for the event.