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How We See the President of the United States

Guest Contributor, Frank Baker

by Frank W. Baker

An upcoming (November 24- check local listings) PBS documentary (The President’s Photographer: 50 Years in the Oval Office) could be used by those who teach visual literacy as well as American History. (video excerpt on YouTube)

Excerpts from the program’s press release include:


“To a documentary photographer, every presidency has defining stories, and those images are often how we remember a

president.”

“The pictures serve as a visual tool that will help future historians understand what went on during the presidency.”

The documentary also has a companion book, published by the National Geographic Society.

To see some of the images from the book go to Amazon.com’s web page.

More images from the White House can be seen on the White House’s official Flickr site.

Note: just last week, former President Bush expressed regret over an official White House photo taken of him in a plane that flew over areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

CBS’ Sunday Morning broadcast (November 6) included a segment on Pete Souza, the current White House photographer.
CBS News’ website also offers a look at some of the more iconic presidential images.

Read, listen, or watch this recent interview with Souza from the White House blog.

CBS’ Early Show previously aired a segment examining Souza’s images on the occasion of President Obama’s 100 days in office.

The Newseum interviewed Souza for its series Inside Media: Photographing Obama, which can be seen on YouTube.

Recently, the Associated Press organized a tour (The American President) of presidential photographs and produced a video as part of that tour.

Be sure to see this site, from the PBS documentary series American Photography: A Century of Images, on Presidential Image-Making.

Coincidentally, I wrote a chapter on visual literacy in politics in my book: Political Campaigns and Political Advertising: A Media Literacy.

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