On most Wednesday mornings, Popes hold a general audience in the piazza of Vatican City. Pilgrims from around the world gather there to see him up-close, and sometimes even touch him. As I ran just ahead of the Popemobile, ruining my two suits and countless ties in copious amounts of sweat, I was literally in moderate danger of being run over by the Pope. His white G-Wagen chariot, between stops, had to keep up an energetic clip to stay on schedule so that everyone there would have the occasion to be close to him at some point. I frequently stumbled into members of his security detail, similarly keeping pace, who were invariably polite and, inexplicably, apologized to me. In addition to protecting the Pontiff, they carried babies from the crowd to him for blessing and returned them to their correct procreators.
With a flash in one hand and a camera in the other, both held blindly and opposingly at arms-length to get the separation I needed to overcome the dreadful midday light, I never had time for any more than one picture of any situation, as they were taken while in a near sprint. The camera was always far from my eye, but the events and pictures were intoxicating. When my editor called me off, saying they had enough, I went on my own time, knowing someday soon the unique opportunities would come to an end.
Dave is an American documentary photographer whose devotion to capturing unstaged, real moments is reflected in the diversity, spontaneity, and sincerity of his collections. As a National Geographic Explorer and Nat Geo Magazine photographer, he initiated eclectic stories including the search for a lost Leonardo da Vinci mural, the exploration of a lost city in unexplored jungle in Honduras (chronicled in Douglas Preston's NYT #1 bestselling book The Lost City of the Monkey God), and after recruiting the help of all three American ambassadors stationed in Rome, he was granted the best access any outside photojournalist has ever had to any pope, for his Nat Geo Magazine cover story and book on Pope Francis. He was born in Goshen, Indiana, USA, but grew up on the foothills of Kilimanjaro, and currently lives with his wife in rural south west France.