There are just some sides of the country's highest ranking politicians that you can't see in the news. You know them for their policies and their opinions on politics, their reactions to the events of the day, the promises that they make. What you don't get, however, are the human sides of them — and that's where the White House's "2016 Year in Photos" comes in.
As Chief White House Photographer Pete Souza explains, he wants each Year in Photos series to give everyone a more intimate look at Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and the people who surround them every day. The collection of photos includes some historic events and gorgeous photos just for their own sake, but the feeling you'll come away with most strongly is that humanizing factor.
Barack Obama isn't just a president; he's a father, an athlete, a guy who loves kids, a man who deeply feels the news that he has to publicly react to. Maybe every once in a while a newspaper will grant you a glimpse of Obama or Biden behind the scenes, but the collection together creates a much stronger effect. These guys aren't just top politicians, leaders of the free world — they're just like all of us.
Obama having a meeting to write a speech, for example, doesn't look so different from that meeting you had with your team last week. Spontaneous dance parties don't just happen in your apartment — Obama has had one, too, with an aide who had an upcoming wedding. Did you give anyone a surprise cupcake for her birthday? If so, then you have that in common with Biden, who presented the president with a plate of them, complete with a candle on top.
It's not just the Obamas and the Bidens who you'll get to know better in the photo series — you'll see a candid shot of a grinning Angela Merkel, a straight-faced Vladimir Putin (who's significantly shorter than Obama, apparently), and the exact moment when Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip greeted the Obamas upon their arrival to Windsor Castle in England.
Among the shots of Obama doing yoga and kids shooting Biden with super soakers, you'll also see more official, sometimes poignant moments — reactions to shootings; the now infamous meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office; the moment on Tuesday when Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid tribute to the victims of the Pearl Harbor bombing. You'll remember those, but they won't change the way you might have thought about the President the same way that most of the other photos will.
After months of campaigning and eight years of judging Obama by the policies that he's managed to push through, these photos are a refreshing look at the person who he actually is. It's a reminder that no matter what politicians like him might say, they really are all just people. Human beings, with loves, interests, and, of course, flaws.