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The President's Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office Hardcover – November 2, 2010

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From The President's Photographer
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National Geographic has been giving custom map cabinets to U.S. presidents since shortly after the start of World War II, when the Society presented one of the finely crafted pieces to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. On June 10, 2009, the tradition continued. "The Obama family loves maps," the President said. (Pete Souza/The White House) Cecil Stoughton’s photographic coverage evolved from making the typical ceremonial images of previous administrations to documentary-style pictures like this one of John F. Kennedy and his daughter, Caroline, aboard a yacht in Hyannis Port, Mass., in August 1963. (Cecil Stoughton, White House/JFK Library, Boston, p. 8) Cecil Stoughton’s images of the trip to Texas by John F. Kennedy provide key beats in the story on the fateful day of the assassination. Later, Stoughton made perhaps the most famous--and most important--image ever taken by a presidential photographer as LBJ is sworn in on Air Force One. (Cecil Stoughton, White House/JFK Library, Boston p. 57) David Hume Kennerly made this picture the day before the Carters moved into the White House. Taking a last tour of the West Wing, Betty Ford told him she’d always wanted to dance on the Cabinet Room table. A former Martha Graham dancer, she slipped off her shoes, hopped on the table and struck a pose. (David Hume Kennerly/Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library p. 133)

A number of Bob McNeely’s images show President Clinton and the First Lady fully engaged on issues together, as in this moment when they are listening to a briefing on board Air Force One. (Robert McNeely/William J. Clinton Presidential Library, p. 209) George W. Bush chief photographer Eric Draper’s images from 9/11 tell a riveting story. He described it as one of his hardest days as a photographer. Desperate for information that morning, President Bush takes notes while TV news coverage of the burning towers plays in the background. (Eric Draper/ George W. Bush Presidential Library, p. 172) Considered by many to be one of his iconic images--so far--Pete Souza captured a private moment between President Obama and the First Lady on a freight elevator in Washington’s convention center, Inaugural night 2009. (Pete Souza, The White House, p. 6) President Obama has said this is one of his favorite photos. White House staffer Carlton Philadelphia brought his family in to meet the President, and at one point, his son declared that he’d been told that he and the President had the same haircut. President Obama bent over so the child could get a better look. (Pete Souza, The White House, p. 24)

Review

“These photos are intimate, humanizing glimpses of our First Families.” –BookPage
 
“Working as a White House photographer offers access to scenes witnessed initially by few and ultimately by millions when the images eventually gain a worldwide audience.” –The Oregonian
 
“Presidents are seen as never before – expressing shock, anger and joy.” –The San Diego Union-Tribune
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; Mti edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426206763
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426206764
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
`The President's Photographer' presents the work of, mainly the last nine president's personal photographers. The book includes descriptions from these men, who have unprecedented access to the head of state. They tell what it is like to walk the White House and its grounds. No matter what your political persuasion, this is an interesting collection, especially with these in depth analysis's of presidential life.

The one disappointment that came in reading this book is that it states," Fifty years inside the Oval Office', yet there is a preponderance of Obama photos. I was really expecting a more varied coverage of the last 50 years instead of just a few photos of Kennedy and Nixon and Ford. There are a few photos of older presidents, including Lincoln and the first photo of a president in office, James Polk.
It is interesting to see the more casual approach to recording the life of the president, instead of formal stiff group pictures. The small personal events are well covered and it is an attractive book; just do not expect a huge number of photos from the earlier part of the 60's and 70's.
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36 of 47 people found the following review helpful By vicarofpointfield on November 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a former White House staffer for two presidents who knew two of the WH photographers, I was anticipating going through this book. But the title, "Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office," is highly misleading. This volume is an homage to Barack Obama, and if you are interested in any of the other 11 presidents of the last five decades, you will be highly disappointed.

There are over 80 shots of Obama, more than all the other presidents combined. Ike gets three shots, JFK five, and I couldn't find any of Carter.

Puff piece, not worth the money. National Geographic should be ashamed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book should have been called President Obama's Photographer, It was very disappointing to see that most pictures are from Obama, Those pictures are being released by his office from time to time, and you can look it up online its everywhere.... One can think it has much more then that, Now i have nothing against President Obama, I just don't like when i get misled, I'm surprised on National Geographic because usually they are fair and balanced, i guess they are better with DVDs, An other point, the pictures have no description where, when, what, sure these are famous, But younger people have no clue and its more interesting when one looks at a pic iconic as those to have some kind of date or description, The editor of this book is NO editor, Guys don't waste your money,
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have watched the National Geographic video
[...]
and bought this book as a complement. The book covers at least 50 years of Presidency and good information in between the pictures. A must have for me, although I did like the movie better because it was more dynamic.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The organization of this book lacks coherence. Pictures of the Presidents of the past are mixed with the present President. Pictures are not clear and obscure photographs detract from a cohesive study of the Presidency. The editor of this book must have been busy with other projects.

Jack Wahlberg
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BlogOnBooks on June 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Despite a phalanx of photojournalists covering the unfolding events of news and world history, it is only a rarified few that have the privilege of being tapped to be the official White House photographer. Unlike the rest of the photo-journo pool, the President's photographer is afforded a special privilege that goes beyond the public view to capturing the private moments of the world's most important leader.

In "The President's Photographer," four of the leading lights of this profession share the highlights of their work in both photo and text form, revealing a side of the nation's chief executive that often escapes the view of, well, pretty much everyone.

Often times, being the only other person in the room provides for glimpses of the humanity of the job that most never get to see from the preset spotlight of the job. In addition to covering the public ceremonies, the photographers featured here - David Hume Kennerly, David Valdez, Bob McNeely, Yoichi Okamoto, Eric Draper and centerpiece, Pete Souza - have all contributed work that shows the private side of their various bosses in ways heretofore never before seen. From meetings on Air Force One to LBJ's meetings in bed (not to mention a shot of Johnson's dog Yuki leaving a "deposit" on the oval office carpet) little seems off limits to this chosen group.

Souza and author John Bredar realize that, according to the text, "this kind of candid and ultimately unfamiliar image reinforces the value of presidential photography." Nothing could be closer to the truth and while these guys are capturing history, it is often an unexpected version of history that crosses in front of their lens, making it, of course, the most precious resource of all.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on March 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
When I first got this book, I was initially a bit disappointed. Like some of the other reviewers noted, the majority of the photos in the book are of Obama. There are a fair amount of other presidents, too - but it is mostly Obama (and LBJ). I was hoping for a comprehensive review of the last 50 years of presidents.

That said, I quickly got over my disappoint when I started reading the text. I found the life of the President's photographer to be absolutely fascinating, especially once you get past the first couple chapters. The history of LBJ and Okimoto is especially interesting. LBJ sounds like he would have been difficult to deal with - it shows exactly how special Okimoto was and how far he was willing to go to create a photographic archive of LBJ's presidency. He was incredibly cutting edge. The chapter on Bush and his photographer, and what they went through on 9/11, is also quite riveting.

The photographers (and all staff) that directly serve the president deserve our utmost respect. They are extremely dedicated to their craft and work long, hard hours. I have so much respect for them, especially after reading how they hear and see pretty much everything the president does, but have the decency not to write tell-all books afterward purely because they know it would jeopardize the possibility for photographers to capture future presidencies. It's nice to know there are still ethical people out there like that, willing to sacrifice major money for the future of their craft.

Oh, and I have to chuckle at the one reviewer who posted that there's an entire photograph printed upside down in the book. The caption for that photo clearly states it's not a mistake - the photographer who took it was going for a creative shot.
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