For President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, I was on assignment for European PressPhoto Agency (EPA) – one of 12 photographers covering the event for the agency.
My job was to cover the inaugural parade from a position in Freedom Plaza as well as get feature images up to the point when the President passed the plaza. After that I was to cover one of the inaugural balls at the convention center.
It was an extremely long day that was preceded by a day of pre-inauguration feature hunting in D.C. the day before.
After shooting the pre-inauguration on Sunday, I started to leave the city at about 3:00pm. With all of the street closures for the next day’s parade and the resulting gridlock, it took me 2 hours to go less than 5 miles to get out of the city. After arriving home and getting everything ready for inauguration day, I got to bed at 9:30, I was planning to get up at 2:00 a.m.
Since I wanted to beat any of the traffic into the city and navigate the closed streets, I left about 2:30 a.m. I arrived in the city with little traffic and navigated my way through the late bar traffic to get to the parking lot next to the Senate office buildings. I have a parking credential, so this seemed like a good place to leave the car. Besides I needed to use the Senate Photographer’s Gallery office to change into my tux for the ball in the evening. I was parked and heading to my post on the parade route by 3:30 a.m.
As I walked the 2 miles to Freedom Plaza, I tried to make some photos that would illustrate the closed streets and early arrivers for the festivities. Check in at the media gate was not until 6:30 so there was plenty of time to try and make images.
Finally got though security a little after 7 and as I was unpacking my gear, the most amazing orange glow was appearing behind the Capitol as the sun started to rise. It may have been the best photo I made all day.
So, set up and standing around in sub-freezing temperatures, I was ready. I only had 7 hours until the parade was scheduled to begin. I spent the time making occasional excursions into the crowds along the parade route to make some photos.
Of course the parade was late and by the time the President drove by (unfortunately he got out and walked before he got to my position) it was about 3:30. According the media guidance I had 2 hours to walk the two miles back to my car, get the tux, edit and file the images from the last part of the parade, change and find a cab to the convention center. Never.
Actually arrived at the convention center at 6:15 but it did not matter since everything was running late. Got set up, and the President and First Lady showed up for their dance at about 9:30. Did the edit, but internet was non existent so I decided to transmit from my car at the Senate office building. So after navigating out of the convention center and walking three blocks to catch a cab outside of the security perimeter, I got back to the car and transmitted.
Arrival time back home… Midnight.
Great fun to witness and document history, but it was a LONG 20 hour day.