Photographers' Blog

Growing up in the European Parliament

Strasbourg, France

By Vincent Kessler

To be totally honest I didn’t see Vittoria at first glance when I took pictures of her and her mother, Italian MEP Licia Ronzulli, for the first time on September 22, 2010.

The European Parliament plenary room is a giant hemicycle for the 766 MEP’s elected from the twenty-eight Member States of the enlarged European Union. It’s not easy to see in detail what’s going on with each lawmaker especially when seated in the back rows, and when your shooting position is on a 10-meter-high balcony.

But thanks to a telephone call from my friend and Reuters journalist Gilbert Reilhac, who was following the voting session on the internal TV service of the parliament, and thanks to a 400mm lens and converters, I spotted her for the first time. I did not know it at the time but she was then only a few weeks old. The pictures were widely used by newspapers and online sites.

I learned two years later after a phone call from Licia Ronzulli’s assistant, asking if I could send her pictures for her private use, that the child was called Vittoria and was then two years old. It was the sixth time that she accompanied her mother to voting sessions at the parliament and was already known as “the baby of the parliament” by the papers.

Over the last three years we have seen Vittoria nine times at the parliament. Each of her appearances was a surprise for us and was not in any way pre-arranged with Licia Ronzulli or even announced in advance to us, as someone would think. Even her teddy bear took part in the voting process: one woman, three votes?

On the Afghan election trail

Soviet helicopters, pick-up truck racing, Kalashnikov-carrying security guards, banquet lunches.  Photographing Afghan presidential candidates as they traverse the country before the election on August 20, is campaign travel at its quirkiest.

Flying with Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah to a campaign rally in Samangan province.  Photo: Tyler Hicks

In Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan one week before the vote, the traveling press piled into the back of pick-up trucks following Abdullah Abdullah, Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s main rival, from the airport to the Shrine of Hazrat Ali.

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