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CT-native photojournalist behind lens of now-viral image of Sen. Sanders at inauguration reacts to the memes

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Conn. (WTNH) — The photographer behind the lens of the now-viral Senator Bernie Sanders Presidential Inauguration photo is a Connecticut-native. News 8 spoke with him Wednesday about the hype and the creative memes created since he took the photo.

Brendan Smialowski is a serious photojournalist from Newtown who has covered everything from the presidency to the death of Muhammad Ali. He tells News 8 he never expected this photo to go viral.

RELATED: Feel the Bern-ie memes: CT gets in on trend featuring photo of Sen. Sanders taken by CT-native photographer at inauguration

Smialowski has worked on several inaugurations over the years and he says this one was a lot different. There was plenty of social distancing and moving parts. It was cold, windy, and he remained in a fixed position hardwired to his internet connection sending photos from his camera.

When he saw Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT-1) sitting in his seat slouched, bundled up against the cold with his now-viral home-made mittens waiting for the inauguration of Joe Biden to start, Smialowski says it was worthy of a shot. His goal is always to take the viewer to where he is. He says he still can’t see the big deal with it.

“It’s not what I do. I’m a photojournalist and if something becomes a meme it’s been taken out of the realm of journalism and kind of put in the realm of entertainment. And that’s fine, but when you see all these works and creations and things of that nature, it’s not my work at that point. It’s fun to watch, but it’s not what I do.”

It’s not the first time one of his photos has gone viral.

He also shot the infamous former White House counselor Kelly Anne Conway kneeling on a couch in the oval office during a meeting of the Trump Administration team.

He also took the photo of the female bicyclist flipping the bird at a motorcade, leaving the Trump National Golf Course in Virginia.

Smialowski has lived in Washington DC for years but is happy to call Connecticut home. He tells us he’s been flooded with calls from people congratulating him on the meme.

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