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January 21, 2009

Alan Chin From The Inauguration: First Draft Of History

What I find wonderful about Alan Chin’s inauguration photos is how they seem to inject historical distance. At the same time the public is imbued with the freshness, energy, confidence, talent and vision of the Obama presidency, these images seem to ask: How will this week stand the test of time? And, what are the longer-range prospects for all the enthusiasm?

…And then, if this feels like only a brief taste, here is the extended show of Alan’s inaugural coverage.

(images ©Alan Chin/Washington, January 2009)

About the Photographer

Alan Chin

Alan Chin was born and raised in New York City’s Chinatown. Alan Chin was born and raised in New York City’s Chinatown. Since 1996, he has worked in China, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, and throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. In the US, Alan has explored the South, following the historic trail of the civil rights movement and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, covered multiple presidential campaigns, and the Occupy Wall Street movement. He is a contributing photographer to Newsweek/Daily Beast and The New York Times, a member of Facing Change: Documenting America (FCDA), and an editor at You can see all Alan's posts for BagNews here.

  • cenoxo

    The BAG: …what are the longer-range prospects for all the enthusiasm?
    Increasing employment, stimulating the economy with public works projects, and getting Wall Street moving again.
    From the New York Times, January 18, 2009 — More Americans Joining Military as Jobs Dwindle:

    The recession has provided a jolt for the Army, which hopes to decrease its roster of less qualified applicants in the coming year. It also has helped ease the job of recruiters who face one of the most stressful assignments in the military. Recruiters must typically talk to 150 people before finding one person who meets military qualifications and is interested in enlisting. Dr. Gilroy said the term “all-volunteer force” should really be “an all-recruited force.”
    Now, at least, the pool has widened. Recruiting offices are reporting a jump in the number of young men and women inquiring about joining the service in the past three months.
    As a rule, when unemployment rates climb so do military enlistments. In November, the Army recruited 5,605 active-duty soldiers, 6 percent more than its target, and the Army Reserve signed up 3,270 soldiers, 16 percent more than its goal. December, when the jobless rate reached 7.2 percent, saw similar increases in recruitments.

    The White House — President Barack Obama, The Agenda • Foreign Policy:

    • Obama and Biden will refocus American resources on the greatest threat to our security — the resurgence of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They will increase our troop levels in Afghanistan…
    • The gravest danger to the American people is the threat of a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon and the spread of nuclear weapons to dangerous regimes.
    • Obama and Biden will secure all loose nuclear materials in the world within four years.
    • Obama and Biden will negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production of new nuclear weapons material.
    • Now is the time to use the power of American diplomacy to pressure Iran to stop their illicit nuclear program, support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel.
    • Obama and Biden will make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a key diplomatic priority from day one. They will make a sustained push — working with Israelis and Palestinians — to achieve the goal of two states, a Jewish state in Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security.
    • Barack Obama and Joe Biden strongly support the U.S.-Israel relationship, and believe that our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel, America’s strongest ally in the region. They support this closeness, and have stated that the United States will never distance itself from Israel.
    • Barack Obama and Joe Biden have consistently supported foreign assistance to Israel. They defend and support the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel and have advocated increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met.

    Rumor has it that smart investors are all buying into General Electric, Halliburton, and health care.
    Why, happy days will be here again before we know it.

  • Mona

    Remember anyone the advert that said “It’s your future, be there!” Alan’s photography shows how many wanted to be there enduring a cold day indeed! Thank you Alan for being there-

  • yg

    chin must be fun at parties.

  • bystander

    You’re right! As I watched the extended show, I thought, there is a timelessness about Alan’s photos. I can well imagine someone 50 years in the future wondering when these photos (sans captions) might have been taken, until Obama’s image appears. With everyone bundled against the cold, the traditional signifiers, such as clothes fashion, hair styles, etc aren’t readily apparent. So, people are people everywhere in the world, and across time. Without the Obamas and the jumbotrons, these could almost have been taken 50 years ago.

  • buskertype

    I really like the shot in the extended show of the guy wrapped in a blanket and obama-hat, looking up the street.
    also the young white naval officers saluting and the kids around them checking it out.

  • how to write a good dissertation

    Blogs are good for every one where we get lots of information for any topics nice job keep it up !!!

  • Lila Pandolfi

    Hm, I’m just comfortable with this nevertheless not totally sure, therefore i’m going to research a little bit more.

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