photo of Trump rally crowd standing with arms and smartphone cameras raised waiting for his entrance
Peter van Agtmael / Magnum

The Power of Trump’s Magnetism in One Photo

Capturing the intensity of a crowd’s adulation

At a Donald Trump rally in Wildwood, New Jersey, on January 28, 2020, supporters turned to watch the president approach the podium. “I think it’s more interesting to look at the movement he created than at the man himself,” the photographer Peter van Agtmael says. He chose to capture the moment before the president’s entrance, as members of the audience held their own cameras aloft in anticipation.

This made “the intensity of the adulation for Trump,” stoked by upbeat music and raucous chants, the focus of the image. A year later, van Agtmael photographed the crowd that gathered outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021. “It felt like a culmination of what I’d seen,” he says.

Large group of people at a Trump rally
A detail of the photograph (Peter van Agtmael / Magnum)

This article appears in the January/February 2022 print edition with the headline “The Warm-Up.”