By David Butow | Redux for Time magazine
The mood was tense. Senators and staffers were huddled in small groups, speaking in hushed tones. With Sen. Jeff Flake’s absence so apparent, I planted myself on the Republican side. I was just a few feet from several Republican senators, and they did not look pleased.
Flake was one of the last people to walk in, and I was close enough to photograph him with a wide angle as he sat down. As the hearing began, it seemed most senators did not have a full understanding of what might play out.
After Flake spoke, and in a surprise reversal called for a limited FBI investigation before he felt the full Senate should vote, a few senators asked questions, a vote was taken to recommend Kavanaugh, and then the chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, wrapped it up pretty quickly. My immediate thought was, “Flake is the most important person in the room right now.”
I moved in front of his seat and wanted him fairly tight in the frame but also aimed to capture what was happening around him. A few senators gathered around Flake as he looked in the direction of Sen. Lindsey Graham, who I heard say, “We need to talk.” It was very fast. I have just a few frames of the moment, and each one is different. Then he got up, and with the pack of photographers, I followed him as he left the room.
I don’t remember looking at the back of the camera. I felt pretty confident I had something decent and just hoped it was in focus. I went back to our workroom and began to edit. I saw that the elements of the picture — the body language and expressions — had come together in a way that conveyed the situation in a way I thought was true, and fortunately were graphically well-organized and sharp. On this historic day, following another historic day, that was as much as I could ask.
Caption: Just after the gavel came down and the hearing came to a close on Sept. 28, Sen. Jeff Flake is surrounded by fellow Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., above left; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., lower right. Flake had just appealed for a delay on Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation vote.
Adapted from Time magazine’s “The story behind that striking photo of Jeff Flake after the Kavanaugh vote bombshell”