Sometimes I take for granted just how lucky reporters are. We often get to stand next to people with vast amounts of power and confront them with demanding, penetrating questions. In light of that, it’s sometimes difficult to not delude myself by thinking that I’m important because of my proximity to power or because I have the privilege of being somewhat defiant toward powerful people. I think proximity to power tends to falsely feed one’s ego.
That notion was hammered home to me on Monday at the inauguration ceremony for Illinois’ constitutional officers. As a press photographer, I had the privilege of standing inside the ropes, right at the foot of the stage, less than 20 feet from the most powerful people in the state. The new governor, Bruce Rauner, is a multi-millionaire with potential to do who knows what with his new powers, and here I am allowed to stroll right up to him and demand he talk to me. (Anyone who has watched Rauner with the press knows he doesn’t always comply with such demands, of course.)
I like the photo above because it reminds me that even the most powerful people are still just people, with the same fears, problems, flaws and goofy facial expressions as the rest of us. Luckily, I know where my real value comes from, and it has nothing to do with whom I get to stand near.