Large 20×30 prints, known as jumbos, line the walls of the West Wing and the cramped offices of the EEOB (the old executive building). Photography has played an important role in the White House for decades (since John F. Kennedy when Jackie was a photographer and then under Lyndon B. Johnson, who had the first civilian official photographer and signed off on every photo release), but beginning with Obama’s administration, an unprecedented number in the thousands have been made available for public consumption.
In April 2009, the White House’s photo office released on Flickr 291 photos celebrating the President’s first 100 days. The idea was to be transparent and show what life behind the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was like – from the President’s first morning meeting to his walk home along the Colonnade at night.
Since then, with the proliferation of social media, Pete Souza, the president’s chief photographer and leader of the White House photo team, has shared his photographs widely on Flickr but also on Instagram and Medium. Fueled by social media, these pictures have been passed and shared and many have become viral sensations now etched in our minds.
For the hard working staffers, who spend long hours at the White House in less than glamorous quarters, these pictures are a reminder of the historic nature of their work. Like a living yearbook, they are surrounded by the memories of the highs and lows – the drudgery and the inspirational, the mundane and the fun.
TIME asked eight White House staffers – from Josh Earnest to Valerie Jarrett – to name their favorite picture taken by Souza, the President’s ever present shadow.