I’d been looking forward to it for weeks, the flights were booked, passes applied for and I’d even had my suit dry cleaned especially. One of the reasons I became a press photographer and a big factor in why you aspire to work for Reuters is to shoot major figures and stories, both in the world of news and sport, around the globe. Despite ticking off various world leaders, sporting greats, world cups and Olympics, I’d never photographed a Pope.

Pope Benedict XVI nods off during a mass at the Granaries in Floriana April 18, 2010. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Pope Benedict XVI nods off during a mass at the Granaries in Floriana April 18, 2010. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

So when I was asked to join the Reuters team covering his trip to Malta I jumped at the chance. This was an opportunity to see first hand how the Pope was dealing with the media spotlight he and the Catholic church are currently under, and also to familiarize myself a little with Vatican protocol ahead of the Papal visit to the UK later this year.

The day finally arrived, the bags were packed and the alarm set for 4am to give me enough time to make the short drive to Manchester airport to catch my 630am flight…however it wasn’t the alarm that woke me with a jolt, but an SMS from my airline telling me that due to a volcano in Iceland erupting and spewing ash, my flight had been canceled! This was the start of what would turn out to be one of the craziest days in my life and gives a small insight into the unpredictable nature of news coverage.

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Grounded aircraft remain at their stands outside a terminal building at Manchester Airport, northern England April 19, 2010. REUTERS/Phil Noble