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Photojournalist zooms in on the White House

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Saul Loeb | The Daily Wildcat US President Barack Obama waves alongside his wife, Michelle, and US Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, as former US President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, leave the US Capitol on the presidential helicopter after Obama was sworn in as the 44th US president in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2009. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB

Few people besides the first family see the inner workings of the White House. But for Saul Loeb, it's all in a day's work.


Loeb graduated from the UA in 2004 with a degree in journalism and political science. He now works as a photojournalist covering the White House and national and international news for Agence France-Presse, a major international news agency.

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Loeb said he likes that his job allows him to travel the world and witness major historical events. He has traveled to about 18 countries this year, including Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, France, Ghana, Egypt and Denmark.


""You have to prepare for the unexpected,"" he said.


Loeb said he is interested in politics because it has an influence on the lives of so many people all over the world.


""Every day is uniquely different. You never really know what's going to happen,"" he said.


Loeb said he is able to see political figures in many different situations, which gives him an idea of their personality and how they interact with others.


""You have to wait for the unscripted moments,"" he said.


Photographers for Agence France-Presse rotate who travels with the president because it is a demanding schedule. Loeb said he has learned to sleep on planes and deal with jet lag.


Loeb said he feels fortunate to have had the chance to travel with the president on Air Force One. He called the experience ""incredible."" For example, meals are served on china with the presidential seal.


""It's first class all the way,"" he said. ""Nothing is spared.""


Originally from Phoenix, Loeb became interested in photography at the end of high school, when he began to take photographs as a hobby. Loeb is now living in Arlington, Va., and he said it is very different from Arizona, but it is a good place for his career.


Loeb chose to go to school at the UA because ""it was close to home, but it wasn't ASU.""


After he graduated, Loeb stayed in Tucson and worked as a freelance photographer while he tried to find a staff position.


""You have to build relationships with clients and hope there's enough work to keep you afloat,"" he said.


After a few months, he returned to Phoenix and freelanced there, mostly covering local news and sports for the East Valley Tribune.


He moved to Washington, D.C., in April 2007. He started freelancing for Agence France-Presse on a regular basis, which led to him becoming a full-time staffer in June 2008.


During his college career, Loeb spent two summers in Washington, D.C., as an intern for the newspaper company Knight Ridder, which is now the McClatchy Tribune.


Loeb also served as the spring 2004 editor in chief of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. He started out as a photographer for the paper. One of the major events he covered during his time at the Wildcat was a 2002 incident when a nursing school student shot three professors and then himself.


""I would definitely say the Wildcat prepared me for being a professional journalist,"" Loeb said.


Brett Fera, assistant managing editor for the Ahwatukee Foothills News, attended the UA and worked at the Wildcat when Loeb did.


""He always had a goal to redefine news based on what the public wanted,"" he said of Loeb.


Fera said Loeb is very humble about his work, but always tries to improve.


""He's very competitive in a healthy way,"" he said. ""He's very much a student of what he covers.""


The two are still friends today. Fera said he admires Loeb for accomplishing so much so early in his career.


""He is a true artist,"" Fera said.


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