Behind the scenes with Dalai

Some may ask what was it like to photograph His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama(news stories and galleries here and here).

It was exhilarating, exhausting and extremely frustrating.

First of all, I was thrilled to be allowed to be there to cover his talk. It was a once in a lifetime chance to see an influential leader impart his worldly and sage advice.

To get this chance I had to arrive nearly 4 hours before the Dala Lama showed his face. So that meant on the last day of his talk I had to arrive at the O’Neill Center at 6 a.m. Please note that I am usually an evening shift photographer so getting up at 4:30 a.m. was a little challenging.

Then there were all the limitations imposed on the media by the many different security organizations. All media were required to photograph from the far corner of the center. Using a 300mm 2.8 lens witha 1.4 teleconverter still left something to desire. It just wasn’t close enough to clearly show the subtleties in the Dalai Lama’s expressions or moments with him and others on stage. Also, by being positioned in the corner all we got was a rough side view and many people were walking in front of the cameras because we were not provided a riser to stand on. Many of the organizations that imposed these restrictions are only looking out to protect His Holiness, which is very understandable so I didn’t raise too much of a stink.

Agencies protecting His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama:

Dalai Lama’s personal security detail
U.S. State Department’s Dignitary Protection Division
State Police
Danbury Police
WestConn Police

The one shining light us photographers had was near the beginning of the Dalai Lama’s talk. We were ushered in front of the stage – one group at a time – and given exactly 60 seconds to photograph him.

While the restrictions initially made me frustrated, I focused on His Holiness’ words and chose peace over aggrivation. When I did that, the better photos came to me.

Follow Jason Rearick on Twiter: @photogjr