Throughout the 2016 US Presidential election, there have been thousands of photographs taken of Donald Trump, but there’s one image in particular that has trumped the rest. With many more downloads than there are electoral votes, this photograph has become Getty Images most downloaded photo of the election — a feat nothing short of huge.
Shot by award-winning Getty Images photographer Tom Pennington, this photo of Trump was actually captured at a rally in Dallas in September, 2015 — a time when Pennington had no idea the reality star would be a contender for the top spot on the Republican ticket.
“At this point Donald Trump was more of a novelty; people didn’t take him seriously,” Pennington said. “No one thought he would gain the momentum he did.”
Since it was so early on, photographers weren’t yet restricted by Trump’s campaign on where they could shoot from, giving Pennington unprecedented freedom to roam the American Airlines Center where the rally was held. He took the shot about 30 yards from the podium with a telephoto lens so he could blur out the background and focus on the candidate’s face.
“He did this long, parade-like entrance up on an elevated riser. I photographed him coming out, waving to everyone, and then moved around to a head-on position so I could focus on his gestures and his hair,” he said. “He’s very animated the way he wrinkles his face and with the expressions he makes, so I wanted to put emphasis on this.”
Though Pennington has a solid news background, he now primarily photographs sports events. But for him, photographing sports and politics relies on the same basic principle: capturing the passion of those who participate.
“The people that show up to these events are very passionate and involved in politics or they wouldn’t be taking off work to be there, just like sports fans,” Pennington said. “Regardless of which side they are on, the candidates are truly there to put on a show, much like professional athletes.”
To Pennington, Trump is a perfect example of the showman-cum-politician.
“You truly never know what he’s going to do or say and that’s very unusual since candidates typically are very rehearsed and choreographed,” he said. “He really is not afraid to completely move away from the teleprompter and just really jump all over the place when he’s talking about things. In politics, that’s very uncommon.”
Explore more images from the moments that defined 2016 at Getty Images’ 2016 in Focus digital experience.