07 May 2007

The Vatican's Photographers

CNS has a short piece on the Vatican's photographers:

The papal photographers are also the only ones allowed to shadow the pontiff almost everywhere he goes, even during more private moments -- be they special audiences inside the Vatican with heads of state or an intimate luncheon with cardinals or bishops.

According to the head of the Vatican's photo service, Salesian Father Giuseppe Colombara, the job of the four official papal photographers is to create a visual record of the pope's activities and important Vatican events.


For the past 30 years, papal photographers have captured and preserved thousands of unforgettable scenes as varied as Pope John Paul II collapsing into the arms of his aide after being hit by bullets in 1981 to him trying on U2 singer Bono's sunglasses during a 1999 meeting with the Irish rock star.


Before the Vatican photo service was established, the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, hired professional photographers "from the outside" to take papal pictures, Father Colombara told Catholic News Service.

Then in 1977, the newspaper's editor in chief decided the paper should hire its own photojournalists who would work exclusively and specifically on covering the Vatican and the pope.


But the shooting and snapping ease hit a speed bump in 2005 after the election of Pope Benedict, who was not used to being trailed by cameramen and having bulbs flash and shutters click at his every move.

However, Pope Benedict is much more comfortable now with his personal paparazzi, Father Colombara said, and has often directly expressed to the photographers his appreciation for their hard work.

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