Remember these images from the Inauguration: The new first couple dancing across a giant presidential seal at a ball? Faces in the crowd cheering or crying in the rain? The instant when Donald Trump took in the scene through an opening door before stepping onto the podium to become the 45th U.S. president?
Credit for those signature images, which appeared across the globe almost as they happened, goes to the skill and artistry of a hand-picked team of AP photographers and photo editors – and also to the cutting-edge, behind-the-scenes efforts of AP technicians working hand-in-hand with them to cover the intensely competitive event.
Their extraordinary work, a stream of 2,000 photos sent from daybreak until well after midnight, earns the Beat of the Week.
Matt Rourke, tethered to a photo editor via an APTV fiber line, had his image of Trump taking the oath beamed around the world 1 minute and 40 seconds after it happened.
Philadelphia-based photographer Matt Rourke, tethered to an editor via a fiber line courtesy of APTV, had his image of Trump taking the oath beamed around the world 1 minute and 40 seconds after it happened, making the front pages of 4 out of 6 major Toyko newspapers, all holding past deadline for the first picture.
To get around the problem of losing cell signals from the mobbed parade route, the AP used an antenna system borrowed from our NFL coverage; the technology department lit up Pennsylvania Avenue with AP’s own private wireless network. So it was that Evan Vucci became the first photographer in AP history to transmit images of the president walking in the parade while it happened.
Photographer Susan Walsh, perched on the roof of the parade reviewing stand, teamed with Midwest photo editor Kii Sato in Chicago to use AP’s Reddit remote editing system to make and move a photo of every entry in the parade, giving the AP membership a local angle to the national coverage. “Thanks for the Columbus North band photos. Appreciate it very much," wrote an editor in Indiana.
Remote camera king David Phillip, based in Houston, used his expertise to mount and trigger four remote cameras high up in the Building Museum to make an elegantly composed set of pictures of the president and first lady Melania Trump dancing.
And while most of the photo team was concentrating on the transition of power, John Minchillo, from Cincinnati, was breathing pepper spray and dodging rubber bullets to make a vivid series of images of the protests a half-dozen blocks north of the parade.
Besides those mentioned, the AP team included Washington-based photographers Scott Applewhite, Alex Brandon, Manny Ceneta, Carolyn Kaster, Andrew Harnik and Pablo Monsivais, plus Pat Semansky from Baltimore, whose split-second timing captured Trump’s face at the door. The editing team included Jon Elswick, Ron Lizik, Wayne Partlow and Sato. On the technical side, J. David Ake, assistant bureau chief for photos in Washington, praised the work of the team lead by Mark Olchowly, James Lipari and Bruce Hanselman.
Click here for a portfolio of outstanding images from the Inauguration.
Acting Director of Photography Denis Paquin summed up: "Employing the latest devices in technology – cabled positions, antennas, remote editing, pushing images from back of camera – combined with the placement of staff strategically on Capitol Hill and throughout the city, our pictures dominated front pages around the world.”
For unforgettably capturing history with speed, talent and tech, the AP Inaugural photography team wins this week’s $500 prize.