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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

April 21, 2013  •  1 Comment

Dalai Lama in Cambridge photographed by Alan BennettAB5_6703 It was in 2002 that I first had the pleasure of photographing Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. This was in Sydney and I remember it was an all too brief encounter at a very large entertainment centre. I always hoped that maybe one day I would have another opportunity.

This opportunity did come again – last week actually, he was visiting Cambridge for the first time in 20 years to speak at the 2013 Global Scholars Symposium. After initially having my request to attend the media conference declined, I was given the green light after a quick email to London News Pictures (an agency that I sometimes work through for my press work). They organised clearance for me to attend the next morning.

I arrived an hour early at the Divinity School of St. John's College, the venue for the press conference, so that I wouldn’t be held up too long by security checks. Inside the auditorium I made myself comfortable in the front row and opposite the resplendent oversized arm chair that would seat His Holiness the Dalai Lama. One side of me a youngish snapper from Getty Images and the other side a BBC radio reporter.

The Dalai Lama entered the room 10 minutes late and sat in his comfy chair – a few feet from where I was sitting. It was great to see his happy, charismatic face again. I thought that maybe time would have taken its toll on his visual features and some of his enthusiasm. Not a bit of it – it was just so amazing to see that he hadn’t changed that much at all since 2002.

After an hour of this almost seemingly exclusive and intimate audience, I must have taken a couple of hundred images. At one point though I did stop taking pictures, took the camera’s view finder away from my eye, and just sat there and absorbed the moment.

Since this was the Dalai Lama, the end of the press conference didn’t mean a quick exit and escape from the long lenses and reporters’ questions. No, he just got up out of his chair and started shaking the hands of anyone who was in reach as he walked around to the exit. The BBC cameraman even got a high five! Unfortunately I missed out on that hand shake, but still I have great memories from my second encounter with him.

More photos at http://bit.ly/17wFLek

(Equipment details: I was shooting with two cameras (A D600 and D7000), the majority of images caught on my 70 – 200 f2.8 Nikon lens. ISO was 3200 and I had already set a pre-set white balance. I always use RAW files as opposed to JPEGS.)


Comments

Pam Whitehead(non-registered)
Beautiful photo, story and experience Alan, you've 'captured' the joyful, loving essence of the Dalai Lama perfectly, love Pam
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