Walk with Christ is one of Australia’s largest annual gathering of Catholics. What’s it like to shoot such a gigantic event? Well for starters, it’s a big mission to photograph. Just like in an action film I have to prepare myself and the equipment before embarking. I can’t bring my rolling camera bag and so I have to pack lightly and prepare for a lot of running, climbing and darting around.
As with all these gatherings, it’s about you! You’ve made the effort to come out and I love photographing thousands of you.
I love photographing you with your friends, with your church banners, with the kids in the prams with your church communities. I was amazed to find so many friends and familiar faces in Martin Place appreciating the beautiful performances, rousing MCs and inspirational pep talk by Fr Dan McCaughan.
I was enjoying taking portraits so much in Martin Place that I almost missed Bishop Richard Umbers carrying the Blessed Sacrament! I quickly discovered that I was in the wrong zone and had to negotiate with the security staff to let me through the barricades into the Blessed Sacrament pathway. Having created a special exit for myself I quickly sprinted across Martin Place to turn a corner to encounter the canopy with Bishop Umbers carrying the monstrance. I squeezed into the corner and luckily photographed the sun’s rays reflected off a building and shimmering through the incense.
As I followed the Blessed Sacrament from behind I witnessed a wave of people kneeling in sync as we went past. Recognising it was extraordinary, I raised one of my cameras with a very wide lens to photograph the scene.
As the Blessed Sacrament made its way to Pitt St, it was transferred to Bishop Emeritus Terry Brady, and the faithful crowds began to slowly assemble themselves into place.
I ran up ahead with my colleague, videographer Anthony Milic, and we shared a classic media moment as we both ran along the cycleway divider for no other reason other than it just felt awesome.
As we ran down Pitt Street a useful opportunity presented itself: a flatbed truck had parked at the next corner. I ran towards the driver and asked his permission to climb on the back! The position was exactly what I needed to show the immense scale of the procession.
Carefully coming off the truck, I reorganised my cameras for the next phase of the procession: running up Hunter St to get into a special spot to reveal my next trick. Strapping my backpack tightly, and checking the dual camera straps, I gripped both cameras for the run, darting through the thousands of people who I’d just photographed, in a zig zag pacman style run coming up from behind saying, “Excuse me! Coming through! Sorry!!”
There was a spot further up where I could break out of the peloton and sprint to the exact spot I needed to be. I landed ahead of the procession and quickly assembled and transformed my gear into the next stage. I had mounted my camera onto a 2.5 metre camera pole with a 1m trigger for a scene that had never been done before.
I carried the awkward assembly into the centre of the head of the procession, raised the camera and asked two event officials to assist me as I walked backwards at the same pace as the procession. They held my shoulders so that I wouldn’t trip backwards into the archbishop’s golf buggy as I photographed the incredible scene of Hunter Street filled from footpath to footpath with thousands of Catholic faithful!
Pleased with my results, I ran over the footpath and reconfigured my cameras for the next phase: Macquarie Street. Here things get tricky as Bishop Daniel Meagher takes the Blessed Sacrament to the buildings of NSW Parliament, the Sydney Hospital and the Supreme Court of NSW. The statue of Prince Albert outside the Hyde Park barracks assists with a big photo showing how many people are here.
The next phase is another sprint down College St to catch the incense coming through the sun’s rays! One or two video cameras from the media have also turned up and I’m trying not to spoil their video.
But being on College St, I need a photo showing the huge numbers of people with St Mary’s Cathedral in the background. I’m really happy with this photo, as I’m perched on the Hyde Park wall, but can’t stay for too long, as I have to cut across thousands of people walking along College St to make my way into Cathedral Square and run up the steps of St Mary’s Cathedral.
I managed to catch the approach, but the scene is surreal—all ten thousand-plus Catholics are nowhere to be seen as they have to enter through only one entrance. As the Catholic faithful enter the square, adoration begins and the sound lifts up into the air.
I couldn’t help myself and decided to get into the crowd and photograph the people of God in reverent prayer.
The benediction is awesome with Bishop Umbers taking the Blessed Sacrament into the square for everyone to focus on and I noticed the beautiful symmetry of the scene before me. What was a random grouping are now ordered, symmetrical in their movements and prayer. It is such a privilege to photograph this unique scene.
I made my way back up to the altar and quickly chatted with photographer Jonathon Alvin beside the tent and planned my final trick: a giant panoramic photo of everyone at the final hymn.
With the Blessed Sacrament moved into St Mary’s Cathedral we both stepped into the centre and snapped an awesome epic moment in the history of the Australian Catholic Church. Comprising 62 high-res photos, it’s the photo that shows that you made the effort and walked with Christ!