TISKILWA/WASHINGTON D.C. — Bloomberg News of New York City had a team of three photo editors and five photographers covering Monday’s inauguration of President Barack Obama. One of those photographers was from Bureau County.
The photo editors were from New York City. Two of the Bloomberg photographers were from Washington D.C. and two were from New York City. The Bloomberg team was completed with photographer Daniel Acker of Tiskilwa.
Acker has worked for Bloomberg for about 10 years, relocating to Tiskilwa a couple years ago. Prior to flying to Washington D.C. for the inauguration, Acker was in Detroit to cover the Detroit Auto Show for Bloomberg.
On Wednesday, Acker talked about all the preparation work that went into covering an inauguration, the crowds and security measures, and the importance of the moment.
Four members of the Bloomberg team, including Acker, arrived in Washington D.C. on Jan. 16 to set up the technical infrastructure needed to cover the inauguration. Once all the cabling and infrastructure was in place, then testing was done to make sure everything was ready for Inauguration Day.
The media was given three different press risers for the inauguration, held outside the Capitol building, Acker said. One of those risers was above and behind the red draped door through which the president entered for the swearing-in ceremony. The other risers were to the north and south sides of the stage.
Acker’s assignment was to do feature pictures on the Mall, the area in front of the Capitol Building where an estimated one million people would gather to watch the inauguration.
Acker left his hotel about 6 a.m. Monday and was on the Mall grounds by about 6:30 a.m. The streets were blocked off, and the general public was not yet allowed into the Mall, with the media entering early through a separate press entrance. Police and national guard were stationed everywhere.
It was chilly that morning, and people were bundled up as they were allowed into the Mall area, Acker said. The Mall had been divided into four sections with the press given access to all four sections. For the next four hours, Acker roamed the area, taking still photos and videos, and waiting for the festivities to kick-off about 11:30 a.m.
“The excitement level was high early in the morning, but with the cold temperatures and having to stand around for so long, it seemed people started wearing down,” Acker said. “Immediately after the oath of office, some people started leaving. It was sort of like at the end of a basketball game, when you know the outcome, people started to leave early to beat the crowd.”
Later that afternoon, three Bloomberg photographers were positioned along the Pennsylvania Avenue inauguration parade route with Acker positioned in Lafayette Park, about 100 feet directly across from the presidential viewing box. The next assignment was to get a good photo of the president along the parade route.
Acker said the president always leads the parade, but there is no guarantee if he will get out of his car and walk any distance, which obviously makes for the better photos. But as President Obama neared the presidential viewing box, he and his wife, Michelle, did get out of their car and walked a distance before turning to go into the presidential viewing box.
Even with the president out of the car, there were still some challenges to getting a good photo, Acker said. There were the other press people there; some of them standing in front of him. There were trees and support structures for the risers.
“I really only got a couple very short opportunities to get some clean pictures,” Acker said. “The time goes by quickly.”
As it turned out, the president did not get out of the car earlier, and Acker was the only Bloomberg photographer to get those outside photos. Though Acker had gotten his photos of the president, Acker remained in place for the duration of the three-hour parade, to be there in case anything out of the ordinary would happen.
After a full day that started before 6 a.m., Acker returned to his hotel about 8 p.m. Monday, and left for home for the next day.
Looking back on Monday’s event, Acker said as one of five photographers covering the event for Bloomberg, he knew he could be selective, and that everything did not rest on his shoulders alone. But still, he shot more than 600 frames, as well as a lot of video.
Monday’s inauguration was the second one covered for Bloomberg News by Acker, who also shot the January 2005 second inauguration of President George W. Bush. The highlight of both inaugurations was simply having the opportunity to be there, thanks to his camera, Acker said.
“I really enjoy the ability the camera gives me to attend these events,” Acker said. “It’s the opportunity to witness a historic event. Sometimes you forget just what you are witnessing because you are working. You are constantly moving and looking for that next picture. But then, when you are done, it’s good to consider what you just witnessed.”
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