Pope Francis visits the south of Sweden
This year has been pretty incredible for me in terms of covering big events. I did the Eurovision final and I got to cover the Champions League final for the second year in a row. Durring the summer I discovered Pope Francis would visit Sweden in the fall and I knew that I had to try and round the year off by covering it. Luckily for me Getty was very receptive to the idea and immediately agreed to send me to Malmö to cover his visit.
I made my way down to Malmö on Sunday and after checking into my hotel I caught a train for neighboring Lund to pick up my accreditation. For us in the press the pope’s visit was broken down into separate events that you apply to cover. His arrival at the airport. Meeting with the King and Queen of Sweden. Holding a mass in Lund. Participating in an event at Malmö Arena. On the second day there was an open mass at Swedbank Stadium. And finally his departure at the airport.
I was booked to cover the meeting with the king and queen and the event at Malmö Arena on the first day, then on the second day I was booked to cover the open mass.
The meeting with the King and Queen did not go off exactly as planned. We were placed out in front of Kungshuset in a small roped off area for us photographers. The plan was that Pope Francis and the king and queen of Sweden would stop in front of us and pose for a picture before going inside for a short meeting. The king and queen arrived before the pope and immediately went inside the building, then as the pope arrived they did not come back outside. The pope arrives and he also goes right into the building. Poof! No photo opportunity. We then got ushered into another photo position and there we waited for them to come out. Eventually the three of them came out and walked past us towards the cathedral. So in the end we did get the three of them together, but not the posed shot with everyone looking into the camera.
The second event I covered was at Malmö Arena and this one was really straight forward. We were place infront of the stage and could snap away at all speakers.
Finally came the open mass on the second day and this even was a major disappointment. The mass was held at Swedbank Stadion where the football team Malmö FF plays. A stage was built on one of the short ends where the pope would hold his mass. Unfortunately Malmö FF still had a home game to play in their season so it was decided that the public would not be allowed on the pitch but rather would sit in the stands. This meant that in front of the stage there was just vast emptiness. To make things even worse visually, rain was forecasted. So to protect the pope and his entourage three black tents were placed on the stage. And to just round it all out there was a camera on a crane right in front of the stage which would pop up and another obstruction. In hindsight covering his departure at the airport would have been a better option.
All in all it was an awesome assignment and it really has been a great year.