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A picture is worth a thousand Berns or maybe 100,000 memes. But the photojournalist whose picture of Bernie Sanders captured the imagination of the world isn’t viewing its fame through a lens of artistic triumph.

Brendan Smialowski

Photographer Brendan Smialowski noticed Senator Bernie Sanders taking a socially distanced seat at the inauguration of President Joe Biden. The photo he snapped of Sanders instantly became the biggest meme of the century.

Smialowski is a former sports photojournalist and an award-winning photographer based in Washington, D.C. He has created a large volume of work seen in The New York Times, TIME Magazine, Newsweek, US News & World Report, Der Spiegel, Le Point, USA Today, The Washington Post, and many other publications.

“I always say that in photojournalism, composition comes second to content. And content is the moment.” Smialowski was in the moment on June 8, 2020. No doubt you recall his photo that captured President Trump awkwardly holding a Bible upside down, in front of St John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, after dispersing a crowd with riot police, horses, and tear gas.


Most people live their lives by minutes. We have deadlines to meet, or timelines to be achieved. How often do we miss the moments by focusing on the minutes?

My friend, Ed Holownia passed away in the third week of 2021. He was 84-years old. Ed lived by moments. He was a teacher by trade and by opportunity. Ed had an eye and a heart for teachable moments. Life was his classroom. Ask his children. They’ll happily tell you about all the moments in his red truck, or working together on a Saturday that dad taught them life lessons in the moment.

I think Ed and Brendan shared a skill from which you and I can benefit.

Both Eyes Open

Smialowski says, “When I shoot I like both eyes open. So you keep one eye looking through the camera so that you have heavy magnification on it. And that’s obviously the picture you would be taking. But you keep the other eye open so you can see what’s happening around you and you can see the other things. You don’t want to get tunnel vision.”

Keep one eye open to the other things. Sometimes the “other things” are the most important things.

Other things like your spouse, or your children or your grandkids. Things like a sunset or a wild rose or an eagle taking flight.

You don’t want to get tunnel vision and miss seeing God’s hand at work in the moment.

Ed and Brendan would advise to keep one eye on the minutiae and one eye open to the moment.

What are you seeing in this moment?

What was your favourite Bernie meme? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the post. Thank you.

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Bob Jones

Happily married to Jocelyn for 44 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vincent and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love inspiring people through communicating, blogging, and coaching. I enjoy writing, running, and reading. I'm a fan of the Double E, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers


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