Jan. 20, 2009: “First inauguration of Barack Obama”
Capturing the scene of Barack Obama taking the presidential oath of office required effort and stamina. In January 2008, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette photographer Michael Henninger walked a mile, cleared at least three security checkpoints and stood outside for six hours in frigid air.
He carried two camera bodies, a normal complement of lenses, a 400 millimeter lens, a video camera and a laptop. Under his heavy winter coat, he wore three layers of clothing plus warmers inside his gloves and three pairs of socks. Still, Mr. Henninger recalled, “I was the coldest I’d ever been in my life. I couldn’t feel my feet at all. I was genuinely worried about frostbite.”
Many news reporters stayed warm inside trailers while he positioned himself on a bleacher.
“I do remember the moment when [Chief Justice John] Roberts said the wrong word. There was this smirk on the face of the president,” Mr. Henninger said. Afterward, he was able to send one photo. Then, he walked to a coffee house to file the rest of his images. As he walked, circulation returned and he warmed up.
For days afterward, his shoulders and back felt sore. But in retrospect, all the effort seemed worthwhile. “I have a plate of the A-1 photo that we ran on my wall. It’s definitely a conversation starter,” Mr. Henninger said.
(Photo by Michael Henninger, Post-Gazette)