The Obama presidency in 143 iconic photos

Barack Obama

Photo via White House/Flickr

The Obama era is over—but it left behind some pretty great photos.

After eight years in office, President Barack Obama exited the White House on Jan. 20, closing the latest chapter in American history to make way for the next.

The Obama presidency was one of wild swings in American life, from the devastating recession that overshadowed his inauguration in January 2009 to the divisive 2016 election that chose his predecessor, President Donald Trump. Throughout it all, White House photographer Pete Souza (and a few of his colleagues) were there to capture some of the most historic points in Obama’s eight years in office.

Below, we’ve gathered a large collection of photos from Obama’s time in office, from simple moments to historic ones. These photos are but a handful of the hundreds posted online by Souza, and we recommend exploring his best shots, which you can find linked on each year below.

Here is the Obama presidency, in photos, with captions from Souza to guide you through the eight years in America before Trump took charge.

2009

“President-elect Barack Obama was about to walk out to take the oath of office. Backstage at the U.S. Capitol, he took one last look at his appearance in the mirror.” Jan. 20, 2009

 

“We were on a freight elevator headed to one of the Inaugural Balls. It was quite chilly, so the President removed his tuxedo jacket and put it over the shoulders of his wife. Then they had a semi-private moment as staff member and Secret Service agents tried not to look.” Jan. 20, 2009

“President Barack Obama sits in the Oval Office on his first day in office, Jan. 21, 2009.”

“On his first day in office, President Barack Obama speaks with a foreign leader in the Oval Office, Jan. 21, 2009.”

“President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden laugh together in the Oval Office, Jan. 22, 2009.”

“During a Super Bowl watching party in the White House theater the President and First Lady join their guests in watching one of the TV commercials in 3D, Feb. 1, 2009”

 

“The Obama family was introduced to a prospective family dog at a secret greet on a Sunday. After spending about an hour with him, the family decided he was the one. Here, the dog ran alongside the President in an East Wing hallway. The dog returned to his trainer while the Obama’s embarked on their first international trip. I had to keep these photos secret until a few weeks later, when the dog was brought ‘home’ to the White House and introduced to the world as Bo. March 15, 2009”

 

“President Obama fist-bumps a U.S. soldier at Camp Victory in Baghdad. The President was treated to an overwhelming reception by the troops. April 7, 2009”

“President Barack Obama holds a Homeland Security Council meeting in the Cabinet Room to discuss the H1N1 flu virus, May 1, 2009.”

“A temporary White House staffer, Carlton Philadelphia, brought his family to the Oval Office for a farewell photo with President Obama. Carlton’s son softly told the President he had just gotten a haircut like President Obama, and asked if he could feel the President’s head to see if it felt the same as his.” May 8, 2009

 

“The President was leaving the State Floor after an event and found Sasha in the elevator ready to head upstairs to the private residence. He decided to ride upstairs with her before returning to the Oval Office.” May 19, 2009

“President and Mrs. Obama were watching the Fourth of July fireworks from the roof of the White House. What a great vantage point to not only see the fireworks, but also watch the Foo Fighters who were performing on the South Lawn.” July 4, 2009

“Access is usually not nearly as good for me in other countries because the host country dictates what I can and can not do. So I was a bit surprised that I was able to photograph this breakfast meeting between President Obama and Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin in Moscow.” July 7, 2009

 

“President Barack Obama’s signature on a wall in a health classroom at Southwest High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where he attended a town hall meeting on health care, June 11, 2009. The physical education and health staff left a note asking the President to sign the wall for future students to see.”

“President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the Marine Barracks evening parade in Washington, Friday on July 24, 2009.”

 

“President Barack Obama eats a peach following a town hall meeting at Kroger’s Supermarket in Bristol, Va., on July 29, 2009. Seconds later, the President handed a dollar bill to the CEO of Kroger’s, who attended the event.”

“President Barack Obama listens to a question during a town hall meeting at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C. on July 29, 2009.”

“Joint Session of Congress Speech. President Barack Obama looks towards the First Lady and guests seated in the gallery of the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2009.”

“The President appears in deep thought as he and senior advisor David Axelrod listen during a climate change meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. A moment later, he was laughing at a humorous exchange.” Oct. 14, 2009

“President Barack Obama plays basketball with personal aide Reggie Love at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York, N.Y., where the President was attending the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 23, 2009.”

“President Barack Obama watches a televised football game in a holding room before a campaign rally at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Nov. 1, 2009.”

 

 

“President Barack Obama leaves a presidential coin at the gravesite of 19-year-old Medal of Honor recipient, Specialist Ross McGinnis, who is one of two Medal of Honor recipients memorialized at Arlington Cemetery from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The President was at Arlington Cemetery to give Veterans Day remarks, Nov. 11, 2009.”

 

President Barack Obama greets U.S. troops at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, before he departed to Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 12, 2009.”

“President Barack Obama tours the Great Wall in Badaling, China, Nov. 18, 2009.”

“He and the Vice President were headed for the short walk from the White House to the Eisenhower Executive Office building to brief Congressional leaders on his new Afghanistan strategy that he would publicly unveil at West Point that night. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had just pulled up in her motorcade and the Vice President congratulated her that her daughter, Chelsea, had just gotten engaged.” Dec. 1, 2009

 

“The day we were leaving for Oslo, the President’s first meeting of the morning was with his speechwriting team. He said he had stayed up most of the night writing. I was surprised to see that he had handwritten the entire speech so I made a few close-up pictures as he went over the speech with his aides in the Oval Office.” Dec. 9, 2009

“President Barack Obama looks at the Nobel Peace Prize medal for the first time at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009.”

2010

“President Obama had called on the two former Presidents to help with the situation in Haiti. During their public remarks in the Rose Garden, President Clinton had said about President Bush, ‘I’ve already figured out how I can get him to do some things that he didn’t sign on for.’ Later, back in the Oval, President Bush is jokingly asking President Clinton what were those things he had in mind.” Jan. 16, 2010

“The President and First Lady were dancing along to the music of the Harry Connick, Jr., Big Band at the Governors Ball. Mrs. Obama turned towards me and, for one split second, looked right at me. Usually I strive to capture moments when the subjects are unaware of the camera. But this an exception where I actually liked that she was looking at me.” Feb. 21, 2010

“After dinner, the President returned to the Oval Office to continue pressing Congressmen to vote for the health care reform bill. In those final days before the vote, the President made hundreds of calls.” March 19. 2010

“Watching the historic House vote on a television in the Roosevelt Room, the President and Vice President applauded after the bill passed. It was an emotional conclusion to an almost year-long battle to pass health care reform.” March 21, 2010

“The President was listening intently during a meeting in the Oval Office with his senior advisors.” April 14, 2010

“We were walking through a locker room at the University of Texas when White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson stopped to weigh himself on a scale. Unbeknownst to him, the President was stepping on the back of the scale, as Marvin continued to slide the scale lever. Everyone but Marvin was in on the joke.” Aug. 8, 2010

“President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait in the Green Room before hosting a Diplomatic Corps Reception in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 5, 2010.”

“The President has lunch with Sen. Bob Casey at the Famous 4th Street Deli in Philadelphia. I love the woman in the background on the phone, probably alerting her family about her lucky seat.” Oct. 30, 2010

“The day after the mid-term election, the President waited in the Blue Room before facing the press at a news conference.” Nov. 3, 2010

“While at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, the President met with a platoon who had just lost six members, killed unsuspectedly by an Afghan who had worked alongside them.” Dec. 3, 2010

“A nice way to celebrate the New Year for the President was to jump in the ocean in his native state of Hawaii. He was on his annual Christmas vacation with family and friends, and went swimming at Pyramid Rock Beach in Kaneohe Bay.” Jan. 1, 2012

2011

“A terrible tragedy occurred on a Saturday in January when a gunman shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Tucson, Ariz. A few days later, the President spoke at a memorial service for the six victims who died and those wounded. Here he greets Mavy Stoddard, whose husband Dorwan died while protecting her during the shooting.” Jan. 8, 2011

“The President and his national security team were gathered in the Situation Room to discuss the developing events in Egypt. An aide rushed in to say that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was making a live televised statement, so the feed was patched in so everyone could watch Mubarak. In the midst of days of protests calling for his ouster, Mubarak in this statement said he would step down at the end of his term.” Feb. 11, 2011

“The President joins a toast with technology business leaders at a dinner in Woodside, Calif. Among those attending were the late Steve Jobs, to the President’s left, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, to the President’s right.” Feb. 17, 2011

“The Obama family was scheduled to tour the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio before dinner one night. But when heavy fog rolled in, they canceled the visit. After dinner, the fog had dissipated somewhat so they decided to make the drive up the mountain. It was quite clear when they arrived and then the fog started to roll back in. I managed to capture this silhouette as they viewed the statute one last time just before departure.” March 20, 2011

“Much has been made of this photograph that shows the President and Vice President and the national security team monitoring in real time the mission against Osama bin Laden. Some more background on the photograph: The White House Situation Room is actually comprised of several different conference rooms. The majority of the time, the President convenes meetings in the large conference room with assigned seats. But to monitor this mission, the group moved into the much smaller conference room. The President chose to sit next to Brigadier General Marshall B. “Brad” Webb, Assistant Commanding General of Joint Special Operations Command, who was point man for the communications taking place. With so few chairs, others just stood at the back of the room. I was jammed into a corner of the room with no room to move. During the mission itself, I made approximately 100 photographs, almost all from this cramped spot in the corner. There were several other meetings throughout the day, and we’ve put together a composite of several photographs (see next photo in this set) to give people a better sense of what the day was like. Seated in this picture from left to right: Vice President Biden, the President, Brig. Gen. Webb, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Standing, from left, are: Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; Chief of Staff Bill Daley; Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; Audrey Tomason Director for Counterterrorism; John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Please note: a classified document seen in front of Sec. Clinton has been obscured.” May 1, 2011

“The President was ready to announce the news about the mission against Osama bin Laden and was putting the finishing touches on his statement in the Outer Oval Office. As he did so, the networks broke in with bulletins confirming that bin Laden had been killed and a photograph of him appeared on the television screen in the background near the Vice President and Press Secretary Jay Carney.” May 1, 2011

“A few days after the mission against bin Laden, the President traveled to New York City to meet with families of the 9/11 victims. He also visited at Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 Firehouse. The firehouse, known as the “Pride of Midtown,” lost 15 firefighters on 9/11—an entire shift and more than any other New York firehouse. Here, the firefighters offer an impromptu toast to the President in honor of their fallen comrades during a lunch at the station house.” May 5, 2011

“The President visited Joplin, Mo., following a devastating tornado. Here he greets Hugh Hills, 85, in front of his home. Hills told the President he hid in a closet during the tornado, which destroyed the second floor and half the first floor of his house.” May 29, 2011

“The President, in the process of saluting, participates in a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base for the dignified transfer of U.S. and Afghan personnel who died in Afghanistan a few days earlier. Many family members and friends of the special forces who died in this incident requested a copy of the photograph and later wrote me how much it meant to them.” Aug. 9, 2011

“Chuck Kennedy captured this scene with a remote camera as the President and First Lady, along with former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, paused at the North Memorial Pool of the National September 11 Memorial in New York City. The North Memorial pool sits in the footprint of the north tower, formerly 1 World Trade Center.” Sept. 11, 2011

“Following the ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial, the President and First Lady pause as they view the crash site.” Sept. 11, 2011

“Even backstage, Jay Leno is a hoot. Here he tells the punch line to a funny story as the President waits to tape the Tonight Show in Burbank, Calif.” Oct. 25, 2011

“The President reacts jokingly after the First Lady in her remarks called Jill Biden, ‘my favorite person here,’ despite the fact that her husband was standing next to her. All in good fun, the President then spoke at the signing ceremony for the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.” Nov. 21, 2011

“The President and Bo, the Obama family dog, ride in the presidential motorcade en route to PetSmart in Alexandria, Va. The President bought Bo some Christmas gifts at the pet store then walked nearby to Best Buy to purchase gifts for his daughters.” Dec. 21, 2011

2012

“One of the most memorable moments of the year was when the President hugged Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as he walked onto the floor of the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol to deliver his annual State of the Union address.” Jan. 24, 2012

“From early spring to late fall, the light in the Oval Office is fairly consistent with the sun high above the horizon during the day. But during the winter months, the sun is lower and splashes through the back window in the early morning and late afternoon. Here, in the midst of the morning light, the President talks on the phone with British Prime Minister David Cameron.” Feb. 13, 2012

“We had just arrived aboard the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn and the President was walking into the White House. I had seen this scene several times but had never been able to quite capture it the way I wanted. Here, finally, arriving at night, I was able to frame him walking into the light of the Diplomatic Reception Room, with the added bonus of his shadow being cast from the television lights off to the left.” March 30, 2012

“We were doing an event at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. Before speaking, the President was looking at some of the automobiles and exhibits adjacent to the event, and before I knew what was happening he walked onto the famed Rosa Parks bus. He sat in one of the seats, looking out the window for only a few seconds.” April 18, 2012

“We were backstage at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill for the President’s appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The President let out a big laugh as he was being briefed by the producers and Mr. Fallon on the ‘Slow Jam the News’ segment.” April 24, 2012

“‘How cool is this,’ the President said after he threw a football at Soldier Field following the NATO working dinner in Chicago. I think he was especially excited to be on the home turf of his beloved Chicago Bears.” May 20, 2012

“The President delivers remarks in the pouring rain at a campaign event in Glen Allen, Va. He was supposed to do a series of press interviews inside before his speech, but since people had been waiting for hours in the rain he did his remarks as soon as he arrived at the site so people could go home to dry off .” July 14, 2012

“The President hugs the First Lady after she had introduced him at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa. The campaign tweeted a similar photo from the campaign photographer on election night and a lot of people thought it was taken on election day.” Aug. 15, 2012

“The President and Vice President share a laugh before a campaign rally together in Portsmouth, N.H.” Sept. 7, 2012

“The President talks with Ron Klain during debate preparations in Henderson, Nev. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., background, played the role of Gov. Mitt Romney during the prep sessions.” Oct. 2, 2012

“The President pretends to be caught in Spider-Man’s web as he greets Nicholas Tamarin, 3, just outside the Oval Office. Spider-Man had been trick-or-treating for an early Halloween with his father, White House aide Nate Tamarin in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. I can never commit to calling any picture my favorite, but the President told me that this was HIS favorite picture of the year when he saw it hanging in the West Wing a couple of weeks later.” Oct. 26, 2012

“David Lienemann captured the Obamas and Bidens following the President’s election night remarks at McCormick Place in Chicago.” Nov. 6, 2012

“The President had just met with the U.S. Olympics gymnastics team, who because of a previous commitment had missed the ceremony earlier in the year with the entire U.S. Olympic team. The President suggested to McKayla Maroney that they recreate her ‘not impressed’ photograph before they departed.” Nov. 15, 2012

“President Barack Obama attends a Sandy Hook interfaith vigil at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012.”

 

2013

“The President sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to the First Lady after greeting inaugural brunch guests in the Blue Room of the White House. Of course, the First Lady’s new hairstyle attracted a lot of attention.” Jan. 17, 2013

“The President talks with House Speaker John Boehner after the President participated in a Q&A with the House Republican Conference at the U.S. Capitol.” March 13, 2013

“The President was visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, and others. When the President asked a question about the cityscape in the background, the sunlight lit up his hands adding another dimension to this photograph.” March 22, 2013

“The President listens intently during a National Security Council meeting in the Situation Room of the White House.” April 5, 2013

“FBI Director Robert Mueller leads a briefing for the President on the Boston Marathon bombings.” April 16, 2013

“The President pauses for a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.” April 22, 2013

“Four Presidents. One funny story. Presidents Carter, Clinton, Obama and Bush wait backstage to be introduced during the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.” April 25, 2013

“The President congratulates New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie while playing the “TouchDown Fever” arcade game along the Point Pleasant boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. The President toured the boardwalk which had reopened following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.” May 28, 2013

“The President called me over to pose for a photo with a young boy who had fallen asleep during the Father’s Day ice cream social in the State Dining Room of the White House.” June 14, 2013

“The President plays with Sunny, the new Obama family pet, on the South Lawn on Sunny’s first day at the White House.” Aug. 19, 2013

“The faces of others give an indication of the President’s mood at the conclusion of a meeting to discuss the problems associated with enrollment in the Affordable Care Act.” Oct. 10, 2013

“The President and First Lady, and former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, join others during a wreath laying ceremony at the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery to mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination.” Nov. 20, 2013

2014

“Sometimes a unique angle makes all the difference. Lawrence Jackson scouted out a balcony position in the New Executive Office Building to photograph the President as he signed H.R. 3547, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, which at the time provided fiscal year 2014 appropriations.” Jan. 17, 2014

“Ever the gentleman, the President helps the First Lady off the stage after she thanked the White House chefs during the State Dinner for President François Hollande of France on the South Lawn of the White House.” Feb. 11, 2014

“POTUS meets Rembrandt. The President looks at Rembrandt’s ‘Self-portrait as the Apostle Paul’ during a tour of the Gallery of Honor at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.” March 24, 2014

“When the President saw this photograph hanging on the walls of the West Wing, he laughed and said, ‘The two most famous sets of ears in Washington.’ He then asked me to make a print for him so he could show his daughters. The photograph shows the President and the Easter Bunny listening to the national anthem on the Blue Room Balcony at the annual Easter Egg Roll.” April 21, 2014

“Aides laugh as the President swats a fly that was invading his space in the Oval Office.” May 6, 2014

“The President sits for a 3D portrait being produced by the Smithsonian Institution. There were so many cameras and strobe lights flashing but the end result was kind of cool. See the video at this link: 1.usa.gov/1zhPtAf.” June 9, 2014

“This was a photograph that went viral when we posted it on Flickr. Lawrence Jackson captured a young boy face-planting himself onto the sofa in the Oval Office as the President greets his parents—a departing United States Secret Service agent and his wife.” June 23, 2014

“The President salutes an Air Force member as he disembarks Air Force One to greet Texas Gov. Rick Perry upon arrival at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The President and Gov. Perry later discussed immigration aboard Marine One en route to a meeting with other officials.” July 9, 2014

“It’s true that the President has a calm demeanor. Not always though. Here the President expresses his dismay at comments from a Republican member of Congress discussing the administration’s policy in Syria during a meeting with the chairs and ranking members of congressional national security committees. This frank exchange was later reported in the press.” July 31, 2014

“‘Presidents don’t get vacations; they get a change of scenery,’ then First Lady Nancy Reagan once said about her husband’s trips to his California ranch. It doesn’t really matter if a President is in the Oval Office or on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. He is still the President, capable of making decisions wherever he is. Here, while on vacation in Chilmark, Massachusetts, the President puts the finishing touches on his remarks after meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder and others about the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.” Aug. 14, 2014

“Given how much of the President’s time was occupied with Ukraine this year, I thought it was important to show the President meeting with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine in the Oval Office.” Sept. 18, 2014

“It was supposed to be just a simple early voting by the President at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Chicago, Illinois. When Aia Cooper, left, and her fiancé Mike Jones, far right, walked by to also cast their ballot, Jones quipped, ‘Mr. President, don’t touch my girlfriend.’ The President replied, ‘I really wasn’t planning on it,’ joking that Jones was ‘an example of a brother just embarrassing you for no reason.’ When the President finished voting, he reached over and gave Cooper a kiss on the cheek.” Oct. 20, 2014

“When Nina Pham walked into the Oval Office, the President gave her a big hug as her family and White House Dr. Ronny Jackson watched. Nina, a Dallas nurse diagnosed with Ebola after caring for an infected patient in Texas, was being treated at the National Institutes of Health in nearby Bethesda, Maryland, and the President invited her to the White House when she was released after being declared Ebola-free.” Oct. 24, 2014

“‘It’s the fourth quarter and a lot of interesting things happen in the fourth quarter,’ was one of the President’s comments as he met with the White House staff in the Roosevelt Room the day after the mid-term elections. Though the Democrats did not fare well, the President wanted the staff to know that they, and he, could still accomplish a lot of good for the American people in the final two years of his Presidency.” Nov. 5, 2014

“The President holds a koala backstage prior to the G20 Welcome to Country Ceremony at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Center in Brisbane, Australia.” Nov. 15, 2014

“Fulfilling their promise, the President and First Lady have lunch with youth from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. Earlier in the day, the youth toured the White House and had meetings with the President and First Lady and other White House officials.” Nov. 20, 2014

“Following the outcry over the shooting of Michael Brown by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, the President invited young civil rights leaders to a meeting in the Oval Office. Many of them had protested in Ferguson. A 30-minute scheduled meeting lasted more than an hour. As the meeting broke up, the President continued the conversation for a few minutes and I then managed to frame the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the foreground.” Dec. 1, 2014

“The President talks on the phone with President Raúl Castro of Cuba in the Oval Office. The next day, the President announced the U.S. would restore full relations with Cuba after more than 50 years.” Dec. 16, 2014

2015

“Recently released from prison in Cuba, Alan Gross pumps his fist in the air from First Lady Michelle Obama’s box after President Obama acknowledged him at the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol.” Jan. 20, 2015

“For Presidential trips, I usually have another White House photographer accompany me so he or she can preset with the press and obtain angles that I can’t, as I usually stay close to the President. Lawrence Jackson made this iconic image from the camera truck as the First Family joined others in beginning the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.” March 7, 2015

“The First Lady snuggled against the President during a video taping for the 2015 World Expo in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.” March 27, 2015

“The President’s wave aligns with a rainbow as he boards Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport prior to departure from Kingston, Jamaica. Read my Behind The Lens account of this photograph: bit.ly/1NMjCjHtk .” April 9, 2015

“The culmination of years of talks resulted in this handshake between the President and Cuban President Raúl Castro during the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama.” April 11, 2015

“Visiting wounded warriors at Walter Reed, the President signed a patient’s military banner at his request.” April 29, 2015

“The President talks with students and law enforcement officials about community relations and programs that build trust between youth and the police in Camden, N.J. Earlier that day, we had toured police headquarters with the Chief of Police J. Scott Thomson. Several months later I was giving some friends a tour of the West Wing when I ran into Chief Thomson, who was on the same tour with another White House employee, and I told him how much the visit to Camden had meant to the President.” May 18, 2015

“At the President’s insistence, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes brought his daughter Ella by for a visit. As she was crawling around the Oval Office, the President got down on his hands and knees to look her in the eye.” June 4, 2015

“The President hugs Vice President Joe Biden after delivering a eulogy during the funeral mass for Beau Biden at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del.” June 6, 2015

“We had just stopped by the annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park and we were already driving away underneath the stadium. The President asked the Secret Service to stop the motorcade when he spotted The Racing Presidents (they compete against each other in a running race during every game). My vehicle was 100 feet ahead so I jumped out and ran back in time to catch them in a group photo for posterity.” June 11, 2015

“The President was in the midst of his daily intelligence briefing. An aide popped his head in the door to inform him that the Supreme Court had affirmed the Affordable Care Act subsidies ruling, and with a telephoto lens, I made this sequence of his initial reaction.” June 25, 2015

“Amanda Lucidon captured this scene as White House staff listened from the White House Colonnade as the President delivered a statement regarding the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.” June 26, 2015

“Following the mass shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C., that claimed nine lives, the President pauses while giving the eulogy at the funeral of one of the victims, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, at the College of Charleston. Rev. Pinckney’s family is seated in the front row at lower left.” June 26, 2015

“The President and his national security staff are all smiles shortly after being notified of the nuclear agreement with Iran.” July 13, 2015

“The President greets the cast and crew of ‘Hamilton’ after seeing the play with his daughters at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City.” July 18, 2015

“On his birthday, the President listens to a prayer during a phone call with pastors.” Aug. 4, 2015

“‘He was just excited to see you,’ one of the salmon fisherwoman exclaimed after a salmon spawned on the President’s feet at Kanakanak Beach in Bristol Bay, Alaska.” Sept. 2, 2015

“The Obama family and Biden family greet Pope Francis as he arrives in the United States for the first time at Joint Base Andrews.” Sept. 22, 2015

“Though there were many poignant moments of the President and Pope Francis to choose from, but this frame, as they walked along the Colonnade, was one of my favorites because of the light and the way the President was interacting with His Holiness.” Sept. 23, 2015

“Two days after the visit of Pope Francis, the President and First Lady hosted President Xi Jinping of China and Madame Peng Liyuan for another State Visit. Before the formal State Dinner, the President showed President Xi and Madame Peng the Gettysburg Address in the Lincoln Bedroom.” Sept. 25, 2015

“During the autumn months, as the sun dips lower in the sky, the light in the Oval Office changes throughout the day. Here, late one afternoon, the sun illuminated the President as he spoke on the telephone with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.” Oct. 16, 2015

“When Vice President Biden decided not to run for President, he asked to make the announcement in the Rose Garden. The President looked over remarks as the morning sun splashed through the Oval Office. In all honesty, as I was making this photograph, I didn’t know yet the Vice President’s decision. But either way, I thought it was important to symbolically include the President’s chair in my frame. In retrospect, I soon realized that if he had decided to run for President, the Vice President would have made the announcement from somewhere other than at the White House.” Oct. 21, 2015

“The President participates in a group selfie in the East Room with the United States Women’s National Soccer Team celebrating their victory in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.” Oct. 27, 2015

“The President and First Lady react to a child in a pope costume and mini popemobile as they welcomed children during a Halloween event on the South Lawn of the White House.” Oct. 30, 2015

“With a Russian security guard at left, the President meets with President Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice and a Russian interpreter sit alongside the two leaders.” Nov. 15, 2015

“The President and his daughters Sasha and Malia participate in the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey pardon ceremony in the Rose Garden with National Turkey Federation Chairman Jihad Douglas.” Nov. 25, 2015

“After arriving in France to attend the Climate Change Summit, the President, with French President François Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, made an unannounced stop just after midnight at the memorial in front of le Batacian, the site of a Paris terrorist attack.” Nov. 30, 2015

“Following a meeting to discuss the latest information on the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., the President has some last words with, from left, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice, FBI Director James Comey (seated on sofa), Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch.” Dec. 3, 2015

“Comedian Jerry Seinfeld knocks on the Oval Office window to begin a segment for his series, ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.’” Dec. 7, 2015

2016

“With sunlight streaming through a window in the Green Room, President Obama listens to his introduction by Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was killed during the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Later, as he made remarks in the East Room, he began to cry as he recalled the day of the shootings; he called it the worst day of his Presidency.” Jan. 5, 2016

“President Obama reacts as his putt falls just short during an impromptu hole of golf with staffers Joe Paulsen, left, and Marvin Nicholson after the U.S.-ASEAN Summit at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, Calif.” Feb. 16, 2016

“This photograph evokes the President in deep thought, which is not always an easy mood to convey. He was prepping with his national security staff before a teleconference with European leaders.” Feb. 23, 2016

“The President receives an update in the Oval Office on the situation in Syria from Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. Pictured left to right: Jen Easterly, Senior Director for Counterterrorism; Lt. Gen. Terry Wolff (Ret.), Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL; National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice; McGurk; and Rob Malley, White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa.” Feb. 24, 2016

“What an honor to watch these girls grow up. Malia, foreground, and Sasha were both invited guests for the State Dinner in honor of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and Mrs. Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. Following the actual sit-down dinner in the East Room, they made their way down the Great Hall to the State Dining Room for the musical entertainment.” March 10, 2016

“Two renowned tango dancers—Mora Godoy and Jose Lugone—were the featured entertainers at a state dinner hosted by President Mauricio Macri and Juliana Awada of Argentina in Buenos Aires. The dancers then summoned the President and First Lady to join them for a dance.” March 23, 2016

“We had just landed at dusk at LAX. I always exit from the back of the plane and positioned myself to take advantage of the light. This photograph, moments before the stairwell was driven to the front of the plane worked better than when the President himself disembarked.” April 7, 2016

“Originally it was unclear whether I would be permitted to photograph the President meeting Prince George. But the night before, our advance team called and said they had gotten word from Kensington Palace that they would allow me access to make candid photographs during their visit. Afterwards, this photograph garnered the most attention but at the time all I could think was how the table at right was hindering my ability to be at the optimum angle for this moment.” April 22, 2016

“The great thing about children is you just don’t know what they will do in the presence of the President. So when David Axelrod stopped by the Oval Office with one of his sons’ family, Axe’s granddaughter, Maelin, crawled onto the Vice President’s seat while the President continued his conversation with the adults. Then at one point, Maelin glanced over just as the President was looking back at her.” June 22, 2016

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel reacts when she thought they were somehow going to squeeze the entire press corps into a small hallway in Warsaw, Poland, to do a group photo with all of the European leaders. Instead, they were just being lined up in the order that they were supposed to walk into the room where the press was already prepositioned.” July 9, 2016

“With some staff watching in the background, President Obama blows out candles after the Vice President surprised him with some birthday cupcakes.” Aug. 4, 2016

“President Obama watches a virtual reality film captured during his trip to Yosemite National Park earlier this summer as Personal Aide Ferial Govashiri continues working at her computer.” Aug. 24, 2016

“President Obama pauses while talking with a writer from National Geographic during his visit to Midway Atoll.” Sept. 1, 2016

“President Obama talks with President Vladimir Putin of Russia following their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China.” Sept. 5, 2016

“After a meeting with actor and human rights activist George Clooney, the President invited him and three of his colleagues to shoot hoops on the White House basketball court. This photo garnered a lot of attention when it was hung on the walls of the West Wing.” Sept. 12, 2016

“Following the official opening of the African American Museum, the Bonner family wanted to have their picture taken with former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush. President Bush took the Bonner’s family smartphone and looking around for someone to snap the picture tapped President Obama on the shoulder and asked him to do the honors. The Bonner Family are fourth generation descendants of Elijah B. Odom, a young slave who escaped to freedom. The Bushes were instrumental in the creation of the museum, with Laura Bush serving on the board of directors.” Sept. 24, 2016

“The White House was hosting South by South Lawn, an event based on the infamous South by Southwest event in Austin, Texas. Just before lunch that day, the President was checking out the setup from a window in the Oval Office before the gates were opened. ‘Hey Pete,’ he said to me, ‘let’s go take a picture with the LEGO® men.’ And so we did.” Oct. 3, 2016

“Probably the biggest Chicago Cubs fan at the White House—Deputy Chief of Staff Anita Decker Breckenridge—listens in as President Obama talks on the phone aboard Air Force One with Cubs manager Joe Maddon to congratulate him and his team for winning the World Series.” Nov. 3, 2016

“It was the morning after the election and the President wanted to speak to Press Secretary Josh Earnest about how to characterize his thoughts to the press. When he heard Josh was meeting with his team, the President sent word to bring the team with him, thinking it was just a few others. But it turned out that Josh had the entire communications, speechwriting and research team in his office and they all filtered in to the Oval, some for the first time.” Nov. 9, 2016

“Two days after the election, the President meets with President-elect Donald Trump.” Nov. 10, 2016

This article has been edited for relevance.

Andrew Couts

Andrew Couts

Andrew Couts is the former editor of Layer 8, a section dedicated to the intersection of the Internet and the state—and the gaps in between. Prior to the Daily Dot, Couts served as features editor and features writer for Digital Trends, associate editor of TheWeek.com, and associate editor at Maxim magazine. When he’s not working, Couts can be found hiking with his German shepherds or blasting around on motorcycles.