2013 Presidential Inauguration
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.