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2013 Presidential Inauguration

by Max Whittaker

President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Jill Biden leave the US Capitol after the inauguration, January 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Max Whittaker/Prime)

A presidential inauguration is the epitome of choreographed political theater. Plenty of political theater is self-aggrandizing, but in this particular case, the theater serves a more important and humbling function, emphasizing the peaceful transition of power and respect for the democratic will of the American voter. It also serves to elevate the office of president above any individual who might hold that office.

That said, the institutions of government are comprised of people, and personalities are an inevitable part of the inaugural pomp and circumstance. The historic nature of Barack Obama’s first inauguration wasn’t quite matched by this one, but it was history all the same. The biggest frustration with trying to cover such a sprawling and tightly-secured event is that no one photographer is capable of capturing more than a sliver of the day. As photographers, our instinct is to be everywhere, see and capture everything, and at the end of the day come away with a definitive record of the event. But, with a visit to church in the morning, a series of choreographed steps at the Capitol, the swearing in, inaugural speech, luncheon, parade, and inaugural balls, there are simply too many parts to the day for one photographer to attend, due mainly to the logistics of security and high demand for access by photographers from around the world.

Brendan Hoffman and I learned this four years ago, when we were both on assignment for Getty Images. This time around, we were again part of the same team, working for the New York Times. The team mentality is maybe more of a mental shift for a freelancer – although in some ways being part of Prime has tamped down our instinctive lone wolf approach – but it can be a lot of fun to see that one of your colleagues has nailed a frame, which makes you look good too. We’re grateful to have been a part of the day and to have a front-row seat to history being made.

You can see a number of our images inĀ this gallery on the New York Times site, and we’ve shared some other favorites below. These images are also available for licensing in our archive.

Travon Bristol, left, and Ken Hines hang bunting in front of the National Archives for the presidential inaugural parade, January 20, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Max Whittaker)

National Guard soldiers guard the streets as the presidential inauguration winds down January 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Max Whittaker/Prime)

Theresa Jones, Kiyanta Colowney, 11, and Reshae Williams, 10, from left, visit the White House on Sunday, January 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Hoffman/Brendan Hoffman for the New York Times)

Television reporters preparre for their live shots in the US Capitol Rotunda as the president is sworn-in outside during the presidential inauguration, January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Max Whittaker/Prime)

President Barack Obama's place setting is marked by a place card ahead of the Inaugural luncheon in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol on Monday, January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Hoffman/Brendan Hoffman for the New York Times)

President Barack Obama walks through the US Capitol Rotunda to the inaugural luncheon, January 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Max Whittaker/Prime)

Congressional majority leader John Boehner watches President Barack Obama leave the US Capitol during the inauguration, January 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Max Whittaker/Prime)

Onlookers wave as CNN does a live shot on the National Mall the day before the presidential inauguration, January 20, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Max Whittaker)

First Lady Michelle Obama looks at President Barack Obama as they sit down for the Inaugural Luncheon in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol on Monday, January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Hoffman/Brendan Hoffman for the New York Times)

President Barack Obama raises his glass after speaking at the Inaugural Luncheon in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Hoffman/Brendan Hoffman for the New York Times)

Singer John Legend and his fiance Chrissy Teigen relax at the Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball, January 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Max Whittaker)

Attendees dance at the Inaugural Ball, January 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Max Whittaker/Prime)

Mike Mignosi, center, and Joseph Velloni, right, of New York kiss at the Inaugural Ball, January 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Max Whittaker/Prime)

Attendees relax in the "Special Guests" area at the Inaugural Ball, January 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Max Whittaker/Prime)

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dance at the Inaugural Ball, January 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Max Whittaker/Prime)

Dewayn Lewis of Washington, DC, watches President Barack Obama speak at the Inaugural Ball at Ben's Chili Bowl, a local institution which President Barack Obama has visited, on Monday, January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Hoffman/Brendan Hoffman for the New York Times)

A sign is left on the ground near the U.S. Capitol following the Inauguration of President Barack Obama on Monday, January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Hoffman/Brendan Hoffman for the New York Times)

A woman rides the metro back from President Barack Obama's Inauguration on Monday, January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Hoffman/Brendan Hoffman for the New York Times)

Posted by Max Whittaker on Jan 31st, 2013 in Latest News | No Comments »

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