By now, you know the photo — some version of it, anyway.
President-elect Donald Trump is smiling over a bowl of young garlic soup. Across the table, former Republican nominee and current Secretary of State candidate Mitt Romney is smiling tightly underneath his furrowed brow.
The photo, taken at Jean Georges in Trump Tower Tuesday, has since taken on a life of its own on social media, with observers on Twitter filling in their own captions.
When your friend sets you up and asks how it’s going pic.twitter.com/PPRC8oUuMF
— Jason Wells (@JasonBretWells) November 30, 2016
For the first time in his life, Mitt Romney is All Of Us. pic.twitter.com/e8TyFgmtDl
— John Green (@johngreen) November 30, 2016
This is how I feel all the time. pic.twitter.com/PiGIe7iOD0
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) November 30, 2016
I made the Trump/Romney photo black and white, and it looks like a Twilight Zone episode where a guy just made a foolish deal with the Devil pic.twitter.com/froiDYDJei
— Adam Murray (@Atom_Murray) November 30, 2016
That last tweet caught the eye of Drew Angerer, the photographer for Getty Images who snapped the photo of Trump and Romney. He responded to it on Twitter, noting that he wasn’t credited in the remix:
8,000 retweets and zero photo credits. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ https://t.co/2ARr8ljDW4
— Drew Angerer (@drewangerer) November 30, 2016
Angerer, who’s been covering Trump’s transition in New York City, was on duty at Trump Tower Tuesday night as part of the press pool. When Trump and Romney went to dinner, the transition team let the pool in for a brief photo opportunity, allowing Angerer to snap the photo.
“It all happens very quickly, no more than 20 seconds or so,” Angerer said. “It was very very dark in the room, so getting a decent exposure was the first challenge. After that, I was just looking for any interaction among them at the table.”
For much of the photo op, Romney was turned away from the press, looking toward his dinner companions, Angerer said. Toward the end, as they were wrapping up, he turned to look at the photographers.
“I think Mr. Trump was much more comfortable with photographers being there than Romney,” Angerer said. “Mr. Trump certainly seems to enjoy a bit of a show. From the press pool’s perspective, we were certainly grateful for a glimpse into the room.”
Angerer immediately sent his images to the desk at Getty after the photo op, he said. The image went viral within hours, primarily shared on Twitter.
Now, more than 24 hours after the photo was taken, it’s been remixed, recolored and republished on social media, often without credit to the original photographer.
This experience isn’t new for Angerer. In 2010, he took a photo of President Obama and Bill Clinton that seemed destined to go viral. In it, Clinton stood in the White House Briefing Room with his arms outstretched, a huge grin on his face. President Obama stands feet away, his hand on his temple, with his head bent and his eyes closed:
The photo was republished many times — often with crude captions — and became known as “Inappropriate Timing Bill Clinton” on KnowYourMeme.com.
“Both times this has happened, it spreads without a photo byline or source…on social media,” Angerer said. “It can be frustrating to see your work spread without any attribution. But at the same time, I’m glad people are able to see it and analyze it.”
When Angerer took the photo of Clinton, he was an intern in The New York Times’ D.C. bureau. Now, he’s a full-time staff photographer. But if he didn’t have a secure job, the lack of photo credit would sting.
“I’m fortunate enough to have a full time staff job with Getty; as a freelancer that kind of exposure would be huge and having a name attached to the photo would certainly help,” Angerer said.