Paul D. Ryan’s departure from Capitol Hill next year will mark the end of an era.

The longtime congressman has been considered a Republican rising star since early in his career, when he began cultivating a reputation on the right as a policy wonk and fiscal hawk. As he climbed through the ranks — from House Budget Committee chairman, to vice presidential candidate, to speaker of the House — the Gen X father of three became a subject of media fascination, not least because of the impression that he was ambivalent about his growing power.

Ryan (Wis.) confirmed on Wednesday that he will not seek reelection this year, which has stoked renewed interest in the youngest speaker since Reconstruction. Washington Post photojournalist Melina Mara has covered Ryan for years. In these images, she captured him in public and private moments that reveal, in part, the weight and public scrutiny that come with the role of speaker.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan works in his office on Capitol Hill last April.

While meeting with staff, Ryan ties a tie for his then-13-year-old son, Charlie, before the swearing in ceremonies on the House floor on the first day of the 115th Congress in January 2017.

Ryan, with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), left, works with House colleagues during a leadership meeting in his office.

Ryan reads documents in his office on Capitol Hill last year.

Ryan greets foreign dignitaries in his office on Capitol Hill last April.

Ryan is interviewed the day President Trump delivered his first speech to a Joint Session of Congress in February 2017.

With Capitol Police outside, Ryan joins a call with House leadership in an SUV during constituent visits throughout his Wisconsin congressional district last July.

During a brief recess, Ryan emerges from an SUV protected by his Capitol Police detail to meet with constituents in Janesville, Wis.

Ryan enters a meeting with constituents and a Builder and Realtors Advisory Board in Elkhorn, Wis.

Ryan speaks to constituents at WPC Technologies in Oak Creek, Wis.

Ryan tours WPC Technologies in Oak Creek.

Ryan shakes hands during a Boy Scouts reception during a full day of stops in his Wisconsin congressional district in Janesville.

Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), left, laugh while working in his office on the first day of the 115th Congress in 2017.

The Rev. Paul Ugo Arinze, from Janesville, Wis., leads Ryan and his family in prayer before the swearing in ceremony on the first day of the 115th Congress.

Ryan watches the action on the House floor while working in his ceremonial office on the first day of the 115th Congress.

Ryan meets with House leadership and the Republican Conference about a continuing resolution on funding the government in the speaker’s office last December.

Ryan works in his ceremonial office on the first day of the 115th Congress.

Ryan makes calls in his office on Capitol Hill.

Ryan reads over a speech alone in his office on Capitol Hill.

In the ante room, Ryan prepares before his news conference as a government shutdown loomed in January.

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