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Photographer recounts what it was like inside Capitol during riots

It started as a normal day for him, covering the joint session of congress as Electoral College votes were counted. Things quickly became abnormal.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Things can get strange pretty quickly when covering events happening in Washington, D.C.

But photographer Andrew Harnik says the strange is actually pretty normal. 

He's been working in D.C. for 18 years, the last six with the Associated Press, and his assignment to cover the Electoral College certification in Congress was going to be just another day at the office. 

"It's not something that garners a lot of attention on a normal election year," Harnik said. 

And even in such an abnormal year, even with President Donald Trump hosting a rally for thousands just down the street and a march on the Capitol looming, Harnik says he still didn't worry too much. It is D.C. after all. 

"Working in and around Washington, D.C., seeing protests is not an unusual sight," he explained. 

But typical protesting turned to rioting as crowds marched up the Capitol steps and stormed into the building. 

Harnik was in an side room working when he got a call from his office to maybe grab some shots of people coming up the steps into the Capitol. 

"I was able to find a pretty good window looking down at the group below," he said. "Within one or two minutes I could see people trying to push their way into the doors." 

It was at this moment when he says things took a turn, and he became concerned. 

"I could hear breaking glass pretty soon after they made it onto the colonnade," he said. 

"I heard cheering and then some explosion," he continued. "I almost immediately realized it was going to be an iconic day in American history."

Security then forced him into a third-floor balcony area that overlooks the House chamber. He was shut in that area alongside members of Congress, and they were all told to lay low. 

"We were told to get down on our hands and knees and keep our heads covered," he said. 

Yet through all that, including watching members of congress put on their emergency gas masks, Harnik was capturing images. 

And his have been some of the more recognizable, seen around the world, from a unique perspective within the insurrection. 

"You just have to remember the story is not about you," he said. "And that helps me focus on what it is I have to do." 

"There's no time for emotions to really enter my head until well after."