Obama likes to do (most of) the talking

  • obama-verzameling-3

By Sterre Sprengers 

When the leaders of the world gather to discuss really important matters, they meet in a country retreat (like Camp David). The atmosphere is intimate. The lights are dimmed. They are seated on comfortable couches and around small round tables (with nameplates, not because they don’t know each other, but because there might be a seating arrangement). Ties are forbidden. Everybody has the same kind of chair. Here they drink beer and wine, eat some nuts. They might even talk about football, but we don’t get to see that.

Everyone present benefits if the image is created that this is an intimate gathering. This is not a hostile, business-like meeting. These are people who have come together to share their biggest wishes and their most personal thoughts. This oozes quality time, everyone wants to spent their day like this. It glorifies their mutual relations.

Here, everyone is equal. The one difference is that it is Obama who is doing the talking. On Pete Souza’s pictures, that is.

@Pete Souza/ The White House

@Pete Souza/ The White House

You can see the entire ‘talking’ collection here.


For eight years, White House photographer Pete Souza took 20,000 pictures a week of Obama. That’s right, 20,000 a week, many of which were posted on the White House Flickr account. Sterre Sprengers, image editor at De Correspondent, has followed his work for years, in search of patterns – patterns that reveal relationships of power, etiquette, love. And patterns that subtly reveal the image of the president that Souza created with his images. As time went on, once he had firmly established the presidential image, he took fewer solemn portraits and more images that were lighthearted or artistic. Gradually his work for the White House came to reflect his own personal taste. That is an achievement.

Until Jan. 20th, when Obama’s successor Trump will be inaugurated, the John Adams will present once a day an image and a text from the project Sterre Sprengers published on the daily online news medium ‘De Correspondent’. You can see the entire project here.