The official photographer of Barack Obama in the White House, Pete de Souza, whose grandparents are natives of the island of San Miguel, today considered President Donald Trump a “corrupt“.
For this North American born in New Bedford, a city of great concentration of Portuguese with an Azorean origin of the state of Massachusetts, Trump “should not be president” because he is “corrupt and crooked”, hoping that the people “recover the common sense and vote “in 2020 in the presidential election.
The photojournalist visited the land of his ancestors, whose grandparents were from Ribeira Grande and Porto Formoso, for the first time in 1988, with an uncle, for a period of two weeks.
But in 2016, although it was only for two hours in the Azores, the moment was “special” when Obama, in transit from Europe to South America, aboard Air Force One, which stopped at Lajes on Terceira Island, made a point, against what was usual in his travels around the globe, to play Azorean soil to take a photo with his photographer, whose origins he knew.
“Obama would often call me Azorean, he would never get off the plane in the refuelling because it caused a lot of uproars and the secret services would have to bring more elements, but he made sure to convey that when he landed in the Azores he was going to get off the plane and take a picture with me: the native with the president, “recalled Pete Souza.
Pete Souza said that “it was a beautiful afternoon and he spent two hours of refuelling on the Lajes track, enjoying the scenery, which even from the airport was beautiful with the pastures and the ocean not far away.”
But Obama’s tour in the Azores ended when someone “appeared to run and warned him that he was treading a runway that would be used by a plane to land.”
Pete Souza, who began his professional experience in a college newspaper in Kansas, where he majored in photojournalism, recalled his childhood in New Bedford, where he grew up: he loved to eat malassadas, sweet fried dough that is associated with the island’s Carnival tradition of São Miguel and whose revenue was taken by the Azorean emigrants to the United States.
“I know that Obama ate badly at a bakery in Hawaii, where there is a large Azorean community. The bakery where I was going with my mother is now closed, I do not know where to go now to eat one, “said Pete Souza. who is going to visit the mother tries to eat a pizza based on the sausage of São Miguel.
He met Obama when he was a pro in the Washington-based Chicago Tribune and had the US president elected to the Senate in 2004.
He documented the first two years of Obama: “We met each other professionally, he got to know my job, and when he was elected to the presidency of the United States four years later, he asked me to be his photographer.”
In the 1980s, Pete Souza had been linked to the White House when he collaborated with Ronald Reagan, whom he did not know and received an invitation from his photographer in the middle of his first term to work at the White House.
The photojournalist of Azorean origin considers that this was a “good experience that proved useful to become the head of White House photography with Obama, with whom he maintains contact, seeing both on time.”
The high point of his career was eight years with Obama, but in his nine years in the service of the Chicago Tribune he made “very interesting” international trips, having been in Afghanistan after September 11 in Papua New Guinea, China, Kosovo, Mongolia, along with other destinations that were not for the service of the American newspaper “would never have the opportunity to know.”
Pete Souza is in the Azores from Monday to Sunday, where he will present his two books, titled “Obama: An Intimate Portrait” and “Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents“, in public sessions scheduled for the islands of São Miguel, Pico and Terceira, at the invitation of the Government of the Azores.
The photojournalist sees this trip as “search and knowledge” and will try to “understand if it is possible to tell a unique story of the Azores in an image” and to “mentally formulate what projects I can develop by returning.”