A Starry Sea of Cameras at the Unveiling of Pope Francis


Here’s a startling side-by-side comparison of news photos that has begun floating around on the social web. Both photographs show a large crowd gathered to witness the unveiling of a new pope. The top one was what AP photographer Luca Bruno saw in 2005 when Pope Benedict XVI was introduced, while the bottom one is what AP photographer Michael Sohn witnessed yesterday at the election of Pope Francis.

CNN’s live news cameras witnessed the same thing as Pope Francis strolled out onto the balcony:


Here’s the video showing the sea of cameras (the scene is at 40 seconds into the video):

Just eight years ago, the iPhone was still 2 years away from being announced and smartphone photography hadn’t begun its encroachment in the photo world yet. Fast forward to 2013, and major world events are now being covered by a countless number of digital eyes on the ground. Go to a concert, a speech, or any location where major news is breaking, and you have a good chance of seeing exactly the same thing.

(via NBC via Rob Sheridan)

Image credits: Photographs by Luca Bruno/AP, Michael Sohn/AP, CNN

  • Mansgame

    Would god mind if someone smacked the guy with the ipad in the head?

  • Melka

    During a concert, what is depressing is that they don’t even “live” the moment.
    They just document it and watch it late.
    “Hey dude, did you see that ! I was there !”
    Yeah, but you didn’t enjoy it.

  • RioRyan

    when I first saw the picture I thought it was a set-up joke. it’s just sad that this is reality

  • worker88

    This is the new.

  • Dan Cepeda

    It’s the video. Please, people, stop shooting crappy video you’ll never watch. Snap a few pix and put your damn toy down. Everyone is just a video-shooting robot now. And with those tablets! Ugh.

  • 11

    in 2023, expect only cameras and no humans there..

  • Tonyb

    I see this as a good thing. While this event is definitely COVERED, there is a tremendous shift happenein where the people can cover news unfiltered. Never let any cop or official tell you you can’t shoot in public.

  • zshshhjq

    gives me the creepes…… like some mobile zombies

  • 434334

    apple creates idiots…

  • Jared Monkman

    These kinds of comments bug me. Who’s to say these people aren’t holding their phones up in the air but also watching the event with their eyes? it doesn’t take a genius to hold a phone in the same place for a few minutes

  • Samcornwell

    “One never sees things, one always sees them through a screen. The multitudes of photographers now intensely staring not at the surrounding world, nor their loved ones being wed or graduating, but at their camera backs or cell phones searching for an image on the small screens, or summoning the past as an archival image on these same screens, is symptomatic of the image’s primacy over the existence it is supposed to depict. It is as if we have banished the actual experience and instead flattened it into a small rectangle, preferring its commodification as a picture show.”
    – Fred Ritchin, 2009.

  • Leonardo Abreu

    This is disgusting… :(

  • Eduardo Cervantes

    The reality is that if you were there and didn’t record it, chances are, people won’t believe you or may think you are an idiot for not recording it. anyway, either way suck.

  • Zos Xavius

    This also means that many people everywhere are capable of taking video or photographs of events right as they happen. This is one of the only tools citizens have against their masters….yeah, like or not, this is certainly a good thing, especially as we slide towards a decidedly Orwellian future.

  • Tio

    I hope not!!!

  • pretty_ugly_1

    I think Melka is right. When you holding your phone while doing something, it distracts you. That’s why texting while driving is illegal. Recording video maybe less distracting, but still.

  • D.G. Brown

    I wonder how products like Google Glass will end up affecting this. On the upside, you won’t have all those annoying screens in the way (as a photographer, that part irks me to no end). On the downside, it will be one more wall between people and experiencing life.

  • D.G. Brown

    Turn around, snap a photo of you with all the stuff going on behind you (a much better use of those wide-angle lenses than trying to “zoom in” on anything recognizable), and then you’re good. Much better proof that you were there.

  • DamianM

    It doesn’t take a genius that’s why they do it.
    A genius will probably ingest the full moment and leave the toy in there pocket

  • Bob Prangnell

    anonymous posting creates idiotic commenters

  • I have a photo of the pope

    Yeah that’s him that tiny dot at the front

  • Jared Monkman

    Holding your phone isn’t distracting; talking into it is. Sometimes I hold my phone in my hand when I walk. Does this now mean I’m distracted? I’m not paying any attention to it, it just happens to be in my hand. Who’s to say that people are incapable of holding their phones in the air and pay full attention to what’s going on around them?
    Aside from the distraction argument, is it really that bad of thing that we now have people recording everything with their phones? Whatever you think about them not enjoying whatever is going on around them, it is their choice how they take in any given effect, and has no direct consequences on your experience.

  • Jefton Sungkar

    I’d say Steve Jobs has made more of an impact in that time than the Pope Benedict

  • Stephen Benson

    It used to just be a subset of tourists did this. I used to look at them in wonder, as they exchanged immediate experience for something deeply strange. But it’s now everywhere, and with the involvement of social media, much more strange.

    At the same time the phenomenon seems to capture and encapsulate many philosophical & political concerns: alienation, estrangement, deconstruction, consumerisation, commodification, fetishisation… all there in that little glowing square.

  • Stephen Benson

    They weren’t really ‘there’ either.

  • Stephen Benson

    Maybe not, you can choose what to map onto reality, or see it unfiltered.

    And best of all, you can take photos without putting a box in front of your face, so you can continue to experience life. Yes, a bit of glass in the way, but I’ve worn glasses most of my life anyway….

  • Eric

    I hope so. That could be an indication of a world without religious people. Just religious cameras…

  • Igor Ken


  • pganja

    Different year, and different place as well it seems. Bottom one is from front of the St. Peter, top one seems to be of people walking to an spot.

  • Jeff Ross

    That would be a real shame. Religious charities do a MUCH better job at caring for elderly and sick than for profits or government agencies do.

    Besides, I don’t know of many Sihk Mamiyas.

  • Anthony Burokas

    Actually the bigger difference, and one that I found pretty obvious, is that the people in the top photo are much further away. The square is very wide. The op photo is not- it’s much further back. There’s no point to a cell phone photo. If they had a still camera with a long lens and a tripod, they’d get a picture.

    Moreover, you don’t know exactly what’s happening.
    The moment’s he’s introduced, a lot of people will take pictures (bottom photo) as he comes out and waves to the audience. But then, as he moves back to speak into the microphone, and talk, and talk, most of the cameras will go down and people will watch.

    This is exactly what we see in the video.

  • Al Caído

    i remember of a poem “Leisure” by William Davies, we take so much precaution about what other people think about us that we forget to live in the moment. One needs to feel the moment not brag about it.

  • Nogger White

    No, Apple just make it easier to immediately identify the iDiots.

  • ripley

    I’m a volunteer guide on an island bird sanctuary, and just last week a bunch of the tour guides were having a conversation about how people seem to want to photograph the birds instead of just looking at them. Most of the tourists do not have high quality cameras, and the birds are pretty small and fast, so it’s very difficult to get a good shot. One of the guides said “If they want a good photo, there’s plenty postcards for sale in the giftshop for $1 each.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    why bother complaining? get over it.

  • Eric

    I see no reason to base anything in society on something as destructive as religion. Any other organisation could do the job just fine, without the lies and old horrible values that relgion has.