Papal Visit Experience Part 2: How I Got My Selfie With The Pope

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Everyone I asked said yes. The question? Would you like to have a selfie with the pope? I wanted one too. I hoped for the best, and prepared for the worst.

On January 18, 2015, I politely squeezed through thick crowds and three layers of security for hours to go inside University of Santo Tomas or UST. Facing all the challenges just to enter UST helped me embrace the great possibility that a selfie with Pope Francis might not happen. This released me from potential disappointment.

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Delegates were limited by the quadrant assignments we had to stay in. I went around our quadrant to find a vantage point.

Our spot prevented us from seeing the stage area where the pope was expected to deliver his message. There was no wide screen. But the sound system worked excellently.

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Okay, this meant I wouldn’t be able to take a photo of the pope when he goes on stage.

What about taking pictures when he goes around the crowd?

Orange (slightly red) tarp-like material covered the school grounds.

Orange (slightly red) tarp-like material covered the school grounds.

I spoke with volunteers, police personnel, and someone from the presidential security group to know the pope mobile’s route inside UST grounds.

They led me to this area within my quadrant where the pope mobile was expected to make a turn. I positioned myself just behind the barrier that meant I would get to see Pope Francis up close!

Was it too good to be true?

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While waiting, I practiced. I had two cameras with me. One DSLR strapped to my left wrist for safety, and one high-resolution camera phone strapped to my right wrist. In case I drop them, they won’t fall on the ground.

The DSLR will be for selfies while the camera phone’s for solo pictures of the pope. I put my DSLR on video mode with me on the foreground and positioned it so that the pope mobile will be my background when it passes.

Operating two cameras simultaneously was a first. I practiced it several times as if the pope was already there.

Then came the moment of truth.

Something with a white roof was moving from afar. It was getting closer. I was ready. It’s the pope mobile going our way! My heart started pounding.

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I had to remember to do as practiced. Everything will be over in a matter of seconds. I must remember to push the right buttons and not be too overwhelmed.

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And then, just like that, it was over. The pope mobile went past us and all I could see was the back of the pope getting smaller and smaller.

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I quickly reviewed what I got.

The shots were awesome and the video was amazing. I couldn’t contain my joy.

When I got home, I transferred the files from my camera to the computer.

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I reviewed the video, captured selected frames from the video, adjusted colors, and voila! Selfies with the pope.

Mission accomplished.

Papal Visit in UST Selfie Collage

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