Daily Beast Photo Editors’ Favorite Obama Inauguration Photos

The first couple dancing and singing to ‘Let’s Stay Together.’ Malia’s photo-bomb. See the best images.


Pool photo by Evan Vucci

Brooke Michael Smith

For me, Associated Press photographer Evan Vucci captured it all here, giving the viewer a moment in the president’s shoes as he takes his steps to the inaugural podium for the second—and last—time. The photo offers a glimpse into the perspective of a president at the height of his political career, while also capturing the sentiment of a nation’s people, with a focus on the countless expectant eyes on him.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Andy Jacobsohn

Associated Press photographer Gerald Herbert’s image of Malia Obama “photo-bombing” her younger sister, Sasha, while she photographed their parents kissing during President Obama’s inauguration parade is a charming look into the president’s life outside politics and leadership. Astonishingly, Herbert manages to capture Barack and Michelle Obama as everyday parents with their young family, framed by the context of the president taking a second oath of office. Herbert offers readers an atypical glimpse of the president’s milieu, beyond typical inauguration sightings of former presidents over the shoulder, throngs of observers packing D.C. streets, and security crowding those same streets. Given the infrequent opportunities to photograph all four member of the first family together, it’s a true feat for a photojournalist to capture an image that goes beyond the news of the day and reveals a family. 

Pool photo by Molly Riley

Ivar Dameron

The moment before “A Moment” is what photographer Molly Riley reveals in this picture of President Obama as he passes through the dim corridor of the Capitol building on his way to the West Front for his public inauguration ceremony. What goes through his mind before stepping out in front of an estimated crowd of 800,000 people? Though the president has seen bigger—1.8 million spectators came to watch his first inauguration in 2009—judging from his expression in this picture, the impact of the experience is no less powerful.

Khue Bui for Newsweek

Lisa Larson-Walker

President Obama takes the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, as members of the Congress, his Cabinet, and family look on. This moment is one of the most heavily documented ceremonies of our democracy. As much as we may understand this as history being made before our eyes, Khue Bui's image also reveals the personal level of experience and self record that is active in this moment. Senators, congress, and cabinet members, can all be seen making their own photographs of that instant, cell phones and digital cameras in hand, in spite of the ubiquitous media coverage. Regardless of who we are, photography has clearly become part of a very personal process of reacting to a remarkable moment, as much as it is integral to the making of our collective history.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty

Shaminder Dulai

I know what you’re thinking: what’s this picture of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) doing here in a gallery of President Obama’s swearing-in photos? But inaugurations are just a huge party for America, and nothing says a party like a doting husband looking for his wife’s missing coat. I love the moments away from the spotlight. They always strike me as more human, so I was happy to see photographer Bill Clark step away from the inaugural luncheon and into the temporary coat check room set up in the rotunda following Obama’s inauguration. His shutter click was there just in time to capture a beautifully layered scene of chaos, humor, and universal familiarity as the senator and nominee for secretary of state wandering in searching for the missing coat.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

Margaret Keady

I have always believed that Joe Biden is having more fun than anyone in Washington—perhaps anyone in politics nationwide. There are a million images from the last couple of days of him having a laugh with the president, or giving a big smile and a thumbs up to the crowds, but Carolyn Kaster’s shot of the vice president along the parade route captures that larger-than-life personality with a wonderful angle and beautiful light.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Marcia Allert

Chip Somodevilla from Getty captured this wonderfully initimate image of the Obamas singing to each other as they danced at the inaugural ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. This image is composed beautifully, but what really makes this photo for me are the gestures and interaction between President and Mrs. Obama.