Posted in Behind the News

How I got that photo of Zuckerberg’s notes

, by Lauren Easton

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday about privacy failures at his company, a photograph of an open binder containing his notes made headlines.

AP Washington photographer Andrew Harnik recounted how he got that shot:

When did you notice Zuckerberg’s notes were visible? Did you anticipate such an opportunity might arise?

During the five-hour hearing there were three short breaks from testimony where Mr. Zuckerberg would leave the room along with his aides. At his first break, the photographers gathered at his desk to photograph his return to his seat. I noticed that he had left his binder of notes out on the table. They remained on the table for a number of minutes. After a while an aide came up to the table and closed the binder and took it away. As she did, I made a fairly wide photograph of the table with her hand closing the binder.

An aide to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg closes a binder of notes left on the table as Zuckerberg takes a short break from testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Did you realize when you made the photo that it would get so much attention? What’s your impression of the response?

I initially only thought to make the image to help our reporters with their story, and frankly we were moving so fast I didn’t stop to actually read what was on the pages. Later in the day our photo desk requested I send the image to them so they could move it onto the wire.

Once I was able to sit down at the end of the event and see the response from Twitter and read what was in Zuckerberg’s notes, I realized this was pretty important information. I read some responses on Twitter – the photo was congratulated and celebrated by many fellow journalists, while others thought it was an invasion of privacy. Others simply saw the irony of someone’s notes being shared so publicly during a major congressional hearing on data privacy.

Anything to add?

We photograph congressional hearings all the time, and this one only felt different in the sense that it was a joint hearing. There were 40 senators in the room, so it was more crowded than usual and the access that photographers usually have was restricted.

Read the AP news story about Zuckerberg's notes.