BEHIND THE LENS: Memorable photos of 1/6 and beyond

DATE: Jan. 6, 2021 (and Jan. 20, 2021)

PLACE: U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.

PHOTOGRAPHERS: J. Scott Applewhite, Jose Luis Magana, John Minchillo, Jacquelyn Martin, Andrew Harnik.


Look at the guns drawn, just inches away from the face peeking through the shattered window in the House chamber. Then: Cut to the outside, with men scaling the west wall of the Capitol and people with Trump flags and Trump hats pushing against police in riot gear at a barrier.

It was a day like none other at the U.S. Capitol, captured in 2021 by Associated Press photographers. One striking image from Jacquelyn Martin shows a woman with pointed, polished long fingernails holding the cheek part of a cutout of Donald Trump’s face.

But then — skip ahead 14 days to Jan. 20, when the pomp of inauguration ceremonies unfolded in almost the same exact place – but with Lady Gaga walking in a dramatic, trailing green skirt as President-elect Joe Biden watches and prepares to assume the presidency.

These are the images of insurrection — and the ceremony in its wake that reaffirmed the peaceful transition of presidential power.



J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press photographer:

“We’re in the midst of the presidential vote count, the Electoral College, and police start shouting at lawmakers that the Capitol has been breached. There’s tear gas in the Rotunda. Glass breaks in the main door to the House chamber. That’s the very door where the president enters for the State of the Union speech every year. The agents are aiming their guns through the shattered windows, so I steadied my telephoto zoom on that door where I can hear the growl of the mob. Then there’s an eye. One of the rioters trying to see inside. What he does not see are the pistols inches from his face.”

“The job of the photojournalist, really, the responsibility is to show people what they cannot see on their own and to do that we have to be there.”


For a full overview of the events that shaped 2021, “A Year That Changed Us: 12 Months in 150 Photos,” a collection of AP photos and journalists’ recollections, is available now:

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