The Papal visit

April 21, 2008

An interesting challenge is how to tell the story without including the subject in the photographs. It’s interesting because, by avoiding the obvious and familiar, sometimes a greater sense of the occasion, and the emotions involved,  can be conveyed.

For example, take the current visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the United States.  Clearly the Pope was the centre of attention, and there are very good photographs of him that were taken and published in newspapers and on websites around the world. Photographs of him bring pleasure and comfort to millions.

 The fact that he is in the States is of interest too, and it is important to take photographs that locate him there. On the other hand we are familiar with photographs that show the Pope in person, and what strikes me when looking at the Reuters coverage of the current visit is just how much the passion, reverence and joy felt by so many, can be conveyed in photographs that don’t show him in at all.


Jason Reed’s photograph of the red carpet being unrolled at Andrews Air Force Base sets the scene for the arrival of a VIP

But it’s the facial expressions that truly convey the emotion felt – simply put, pure joy.


Erin Siegal’s photograph of a nun waiting for the Pope to arrive at a rally in New York conveys the joy perfectly


Max Rossi captures the uninhibited emotions of a nun at the same event


This girl can’t contain her emotions any longer as the Pope arrives at the New York rally, captured by Max Rossi.

But it isn’t just faces that convey emotion – there other scenes that are just as graphic. However, I was trying to choose photographs that do not actually show the Pope, but as this is a photograph of a photograph,  I don’t really think it’s cheating!


Brian Snyder’s photograph of a woman holding up a greeting  at the New York rally conveys an emotion in a very simple way.

For the photographer there are numerous rich images to observe and capture, that serve to convey the emotion in a very elegant manner.


Max Rossi’s photograph shows a bishop waiting for the arrival of the Pope at the Saint Joseph seminary in New York


Brian Snyder’ photograph, shot at the same event,  gives an idea of the length of time people were prepared to wait to see the Pope


This photograph by Larry Downing speaks for itself, although I have left the original caption to give all the facts any picture editor could need –

“Sister Chantal Peyton of the Little Sisters of the Poor, in Newark, Delaware, (L), uses a pair of binoculars next to Sister Julie Horseman of the Little Sisters of the Poor, in Washington D.C., in the stadium before Pope Benedict XVI conducts Mass in Washington Nationals Park during his visit to the United States, April 17, 2008″

Of course, a Papal visit attracts people with a variety of views, and the photograph below conveys emotion too, albeit different from any of the other pictures here.


Larry Downing’s photograph shows demonstrators waving signs in front of the White House as the Pope leaves after attending a welcome ceremony

…and finally, here a photograph of the Pope (even though you can’t see him), which is aesthetically pleasing – but the heavy security reminds us that a visit by the Pope arouses emotions in some people who might want to take their feeling further than waving banners.


Carlos Barria’s photograph shows the Pope, in the Popemobile,  passing St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on April 19


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I also liked the photo I took of the Papal Throne on a dolly… shots taken behind the scene certainly add many unexpected elements to the story… I blog about it, also, here:


Posted by Erin Siegal | Report as abusive

I love the reactions and expressions of the nuns.

Posted by Rock Kauser | Report as abusive