Portfolio: Projects: Obama Inauguration
America: In A New Light
There were a lot of people on The National Mall that day. Two million. And yet I'll never forget the relative order with which they waited: for hours, with no ropes, no arrows, no official line minders. Just thousands of people standing one behind the other, patiently waiting their turn. Those who tried to cut were booed loudly. "Obama can see you!" I yelled at one cheat. Obama's New Era of Responsibility was already taking shape.
Once the proceedings were underway, the number of times that the inaugural ceremony called for those present to "please be seated" was a constant reminder that this is not an event typically put on for the standing masses. And yet when Obama spoke, he spoke to all of us.
"For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies."
It was cold in Washington on January 20, 2009. As Obama thrilled the crowd, the clapping of two million gloved hands sounded less like applause and more like an enormous herd thundering in a new direction.
The following portraits were taken in Washington D.C. the day before and the day of the inauguration. I asked my subjects a simple question: What does Barack Obama's election mean to you?
The weather outside on the ride down had been bleak: temperatures in the twenties, snowy. Gusts of wind had battered our bus across multiple lanes as we rolled down the New Jersey Turnpike. The return trip was different: same landscape, same towns, but under fairer skies.
So what does Barack Obama's election mean to me?
It means America still, but in a new light.