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An Exclusive Interview With the Pope’s Official Photographer

Planning on visiting the Vatican? Let Grzegorz Galazka show you how to best capture special moments with Lolo Kiko!

Everyone who meets Pope Francis wants to take a souvenir photo. And why not, right? He is our beloved Lolo Kiko, after all. However, not all of us are seasoned photographers and we usually only have ordinary and mobile cameras with us.

But don’t fret! As the world slowly opens its doors once again, and the Vatican City gradually lets visitors in, My Pope asks Polish photographer Grzegorz Galazka—who is among the people in charge of documenting the Pope’s Papacy—for some tips on how to get the best photos of Pope Francis. (Read: Your Guide on Your First Visit to the Vatican)

Compact cameras, mobile phones, tablets—anything can be used to capture a moment with the Pope! (Photo from Vatican Media)

Where’s the best spot in St. Peter’s Square to take photos of Pope Francis?

It is necessary to stay as close as possible to the barriers. But the best place is the left central sector facing the altar. In the general audience, for example, after the tour of the square, the Popemobile stops in front and the Pope often goes down to get closer to the people. This is the best moment to take a photo.

What if the popemobile is on the move?

If the car is coming toward you, it is better to follow it with a lens and zoom in. Always take a look at the screen of your camera or mobile phone to see what you are about to capture. This will allow you to adjust the frame and be ready to shoot once the Pope gets close. (Read: The #1 Secret to Have an Exclusive Photo With Pope Francis) At that point, you will have to adjust your angle to prevent other people or the Pope’s security personnel from appearing in the image.

Audience. A young man captures an image of the Pope just as he passes by in his Popemobile. (Photo from Vatican Media)

What if it is too sunny or too dark outside?

It is always better to have the sun behind you. But it is still okay to shoot as long as the sun is not in the direction of the Pope. Small cameras and cellphones have automatic adjustments that will darken the image if too much light enters the lens. This will result in the image of Pope Francis becoming dark and unrecognizable. Camera flashes are good for shoot distances, but beyond three to four meters, they do not do much to illuminate the subject.

In what season is it best to take photos of the Vatican?

It may seem strange but autumn and spring are the two most suitable seasons for taking outdoor photos. These are the periods in which the light is “softer” and the contrasts between the very bright and shaded areas are less noticeable. (Read: Here’s An Exclusive Tour of The Vatican Gardens) You will have better results when the sky is a little cloudy or the sky is veiled rather than when the sun is bright. But if you’re taking photos in the Paul VI room, obviously, you won’t have much problems when it comes to lighting.

(Left) A classic selfie is taken by a girl with a mobile phone. According to photography experts, it can be hard to take a good selfie as the lenses cannot capture close subjects. (Right) A Helpful Tool. Selfie sticks help increase the area captured in a frame. They also allow the photographer to include more people in the image and “go over” the distractions in front of them. (Photos from Vatican Media and Reuter Contrasto)

What’s the best way to take a selfie?

Selfies are now fashionable but they are also limiting. You can still follow the previous tips but the problem is that the lenses of mobile phones cannot contain many details in the frame. (Read: Who are these ‘techie’ popes?) It will limit you to just capturing your image and that of the Pope. It also becomes complicated if, in the selfie, there is a lot of distance between you and Pope Francis since he will appear to be very small. But then, it’s still your choice you can forget it or take the shot anyway.

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