To some, The Way I See It will come across as nothing more than a fluff piece meant to uplift former President Barack Obama. Those who feel that either didn’t see this documentary or have such strong opinions clouds their judgment. Pete Souza’s documentary about his work as Whitehouse photographer for two presidents is about how powerful the President’s image is. Words matter, but a picture can say so much more. What’s fascinating about Souza’s work with President Reagan and President Obama is how his images were a window into who these men were while taking on the nation’s most challenging job. His goal was to create the best photographic archive of a President ever. Through social media, his work quickly gained popularity. Souza’s very clear that he had never intended to become an Instagram celebrity. He intended to draw a sharp contrast between President Obama and President Trump.
The documentary thrives when Mr. Souza goes into great detail about images of critical moments during the Reagan and Obama administration—seeing an exacerbated President Reagan react as he’s told that the investigation into Iran Contra had found his administration responsible. Watching Pete discuss President Reagan’s devotion for First Lady Nancy Reagan while sharing image after image of them holding hands was touching. Seeing those personal images of the President playing with his daughters in the snow will make your heart soar. The documentary does give you a unique insight into each of these families.
The film starts to lose steam when Mr. Souza injects his politics into the film. While it’s necessary to bring up his books and specifically his latest, Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents, there’s no real need to explain why he wrote the book. It’s obvious. Spending time explaining what’s already clear to everyone seems wasteful when he could have spent some more time drawing connections between the presidency and the current one. Spending that much time discussing his thoughts and bringing people into the film such as Susan Rice, clouds any objectivity Filmmaker Dawn Porter was striving for. That doesn’t mean the documentary isn’t fascinating. Quite the contrary, it just dampens the impact it could have had.