Pete Souza offers a new filter on the way we view politics and the president. And the chief official White House photographer does it with a bit of help from Willow and Inkwell.
In the first full day of Souza’s new Instagram account, the seasoned photographer, who served as White House photographer for a stint under Ronald Reagan before joining up with Barack Obama, has taken to black-and-white tints in seven of his first 16 images.
Already a Flickr pro—since 2009, for those keeping score at home—and with more than 77,000 followers on Twitter, Souza has promised a completely new line of images coming from Obama’s every move, a fresh portal into the daily routing of running the country. All from a smartphone, no less.
Souza pledges looks “behind the scenes of the presidency” in a wave of images not posted on any other social media. With a generous 18,000-plus followers in the account’s first 24 hours, Souza has shown that opening up politics can prove aesthetically pleasing, too. Already he’s delivered artistic shots surrounding Air Force One, peaks of Obama-led meetings and perspectives from the president’s travels to Illinois and Florida.
The Massachusetts native’s Twitter account already fills timelines with pictures of the president, mixing in tip-filled replies to those seeking advice on full-time life behind the shutter. With his Instagram account, Souza has promised to move himself away from his Canon and take all the pictures with his smartphone, although he quips, “I’m not sure how smart my phone really is.” While likely a self-deprecating strike on his own skills managing a smaller shutter and not a knock on either Apple or Android, recent history shows he may fill his Instagram gallery full of iPhone photos.
To stand out—either in politics or art—you need something fresh. With more than 130 million Instagram users posting 40 million photos daily, intriguing, original content makes your account nationally relevant, unlike the run-of-the-mill artsy shots of vacations, morning views (with or without a coffee mug in the foreground) or kids doing truly original things. Souza has the kind of access to people and settings that is the envy of any professional photographer. There’s only one President of the U.S. — and only one photographer with the type of closeness Souza possess. Now there’s one place that turns politics into social art.