Thinking Inside the Box: Piazza San Pietro

Thinking Inside the Box is an occasional series in which I talk about the making of my images.


Suore e bambini,” I said to myself as I boarded the metro for Piazza San Pietro on Christmas morning.  “Nuns and children.”

I couldn’t help but feel some excitement as I entered the vast piazza to witness the Pope’s Christmas day address to the world’s faithful in a hundred or so languages. But I been to St. Peter’s before, and I knew that even with my 70-200mm lens, Il Papa in the window overhead would only look like a small speck.

So I decided that I would turn my camera toward the audience instead. And I’d particularly seek out what I thought would make the most interesting photographs in this sort of place, nuns and children.

As cheers erupted from various corners of the piazza as the Pope wished the world a Buon Natale and Fröhliche Weihnachten and Joyeux Noel, I wove through the crowd in search of my subjects.

Feliz Navidad… Milad Majid…

I was a bit disappointed to find relatively few nuns in attendance. Perhaps they all had to work on Christmas?

Kala Christouyenna… Feliz Natal…

But then I came across a clearing in the sea of bodies. Two young children, taking up quite a bit of valuable real estate in the crowded piazza, were sitting on the cobblestone, playful, snacking and oblivious to their surroundings.

I decided on a perspective looking slightly downward to accentuate their smallness. As well as to feature the cobblestone of the piazza and give the image a subtle sense of place. I would only include the legs and feet of the adults around them, in order to provide an abstract contrast between i bambini and those standing at attention watching the Pope.

Nothing that outwardly says “Christmas,” but even so, an attempt to capture some of the joy of Christmas day.




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