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|| News Item: Posted 2009-01-25

The Inauguration: A Tale of Two Photos
Scott Strazzante came away from the Inauguration with two images that will stay with him for a long, long time.

By Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune

Photo by Scott Strazzante / Chicago Tribune

Photo by Scott Strazzante / Chicago Tribune
Of the 8000 photos I took during my six day stay in Washington DC for the Inauguration of Barack Obama, I made two images that I believe resonate. Two images that rise above the type of photos that I normally take.

These two photos could not be more different. One is in color and one is in black-n-white. One is a still life while the other is full of human emotion. One is influenced by the work of Jonas Bendiksen and Martin Parr, while the other is an homage to the photos that I studied in the 1980s POY books while I was first starting out in photography.

The first image I mentioned came about because of a schedule change. Before coming to DC, I was in Louisville judging the Kentucky News Photographers' contest. I originally was supposed to stay until Sunday and then head off to the Nation's Capitol.

Developments arose and I changed my flight to Saturday. Since my hotel reservation didn't begin until Sunday, I spent Saturday night in a Silver Spring, Maryland house being occupied by two of my Tribune co-workers.

When I walked in the home, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was a castle of kitsch with the highlight being the funky wallpaper in the kitchen.

After sleeping on the floor in the den, I started getting ready Sunday morning to head to Alexandria, Virginia to check into my hotel and then continue on to the Inauguration Opening Ceremony. When I came downstairs, the television was turned on. I quickly got my camera and then waiting for an Obama image to come on CNN. It never happened so I settled for a shot of the US Capitol that went along with an Inauguration weather report.

My second favorite was from the National Mall during Obama's swearing-in. Tuesday was a logistical nightmare caused by a combination of huge crowds, inability to get from location to location and no way to transmit photos.

After entering the Mall, west of the Washington Monument, I slowly worked my way in the direction of the Capitol. There were so many photo opportunities it was almost paralyzing. How to choose?

Photo by Scott Strazzante / Chicago Tribune

Photo by Scott Strazzante / Chicago Tribune
I decided to find one group of people and hang with them throughout the swearing-in. I figured that the best place to be was right in front of one of the huge video screens that were set up along the Mall. My instinct paid off as I quickly located three lovely women from Cleveland. They rode a roller coaster of emotion as they watched the historic happening on the Jumbotron.

The best picture of the Ohio trio ended up running as lead art on the front page of the Chicago Tribune's Inauguration special section but my favorite photo came 20 minutes earlier. Just to the left of my vantage point, Dana Pryor-Moncrieffe of Buffalo eyes were glued to the screen as Barack Obama arrived. As a single tear rolled down her cheek, I slid over, placed the Washington Monument in the frame for context and made my photo.

The moment seemed so timeless that for my personal consumption I converted the image to black-n-white.

I had thought that the emotion I had witnessed on Election Night in Obama's Hyde Park neighborhood was epic but Inauguration Day blew that away.

The Inauguration was one of the more physically and mentally demanding assignments of my career, but I am glad that I came out of with two images that will stay with me for a long, long time.

(Scott Strazzante is a staff photographer with the Chicago Tribune and a frequent contributor to the Sports Shooter Newsletter.)

Related Links:
Strazzante's member page

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