His ability to get past the pomp and circumstance, capturing the politician as a human being rather than a figurehead or a technocrat, has earned him a long-lasting relationship with the Reagans. After President Ronald Reagan’s death, Nancy Reagan requested that Souza be the official photographer for her husband’s funeral. Souza met Mrs. Reagan again for the 2007 Republican debates in the Reagan library.
Out of necessity, Souza made the move to digital capture several years ago. “Digital has made it possible to cover events halfway across the world and still get images back within hours,” he explains. “I covered the start of the war in Afghanistan with digital cameras, a laptop, and a satellite phone in a country with hardly any electricity. I could take pictures and instantly transmit them back to Chicago. This is something I could never have done a decade ago.”
While traveling to Africa with Obama in 2005, Souza brought along his Nikon D2X, Nikon Speedlight, a cassette recorder, and his Mac PowerBook. “I like to travel light, and with digital that’s possible,” he says.
Souza shoots all of his assignments in RAW format, then converts the files to JPEGs for transmission. He will send anywhere from 5 to 25 pictures a day when he is on location, as well as put together an audio slideshow.
It was during his trip to Africa with Senator Obama that he honed his skills in multimedia production, which he sees as the next shift changing the industry. “We at the Tribune had just started doing these audio slideshows. In the two weeks that we were in Africa, I did seven audio slideshows, which made for very long nights. I was doing all the production myself, taking one to five hours per slideshow.”
Souza plans to be lecturing this coming fall at Ohio University, so depending on the outcome of the New Hampshire primaries, he will either be in school or following Obama on his campaign for the presidency. Just as he instructs his students to do when they are framing a picture—make every corner say something—Souza will speak volumes in whichever project he takes on in the coming months.
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