Let me start at the beginning: They tell me I was born sometime around late May. A couple months later, I was incarcerated with these scrappy dudes, and I woke up one morning to find that my balls were cut off. I no longer felt like a man. I had no clue what was coming next, but I knew that I needed to be strong. I even contemplated getting a lion tattoo on my arm to show how fierce I really was. But I was distracted because two minutes later, these hairless giants came up to the cell wall and asked if they could have their five minute phone call with me.
The one with the higher-pitched voice picked me up first, so I crawled up her neck to make her think that I was all cuddly, since that’s what they told me I needed to do to get out of the joint. I guess it worked because I was on my way out of there before I could even blink. They loved me before they knew how much hell I planned to raise in the coming months.
I’ve decided to just put my artist ideas into words … Through this journey of finding myself, I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to define who I am by what I do for a living. I’ve been searching to find who I am through a job title, but in the end it’s not what we can put on paper that really matters, it’s how we discover ourselves each day. We don’t have to constrict all the options the universe presents to us simply because we feel the need to box ourselves into this cubicle we call a single job. So to that, I rejoice in my being an artist, lover of food and wine, cat momma, devoted partner, photographer, dreamer, lover of nature, and yoga.
This is from a concept trailer film project I worked on in the Spring. I love the way the poster came out.
“We were on a freight elevator headed to one of the Inaugural Balls on Jan. 20, 2009. 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.” —Pete Souza
In a TIME exclusive, Chief White House photographer Pete Souza offers his personal edit and recollections on President Obama’s first term.
See more photos here.