It was one of the biggest stories of the year and with massive media attention, capturing the image that summed up the Pell case, was never going to be easy.
It was one of the biggest stories of the year and with massive media attention, capturing the image that summed up the Pell case, was never going to be easy.

Why capturing Pell’s court case was harder than you think

There are no guarantees in life, and the same can be said for shooting a big news event.

Award-winning photographer Alex Coppel knows every measure must be taken to give yourself the best opportunity to capture a history-making moment, but many factors can still work against you.

"Knowing George Pell was to be arriving at court that morning, I intentionally arrived several hours early, as the media interest in this case was exponential," he says of Pell's appearance at the County Court of Victoria in February where the cardinal was found guilty of historical child sex abuse charges.

Media arrived early to ensure they could capture Pell walking into his hearing. Picture: Alex Coppel.
Media arrived early to ensure they could capture Pell walking into his hearing. Picture: Alex Coppel.

"But during the time waiting, I was already worrying if I was in the best position.

"The police arrived early too, and formed a barrier to protect Pell from the protesters who had also arrived and I wondered if police would push me out of the way the moment he arrived.

"There was also a large media contingency - not only photographers but also journalists with their mobile phones all wanting to capture the moment."

But Coppel's persistence and patience paid off.

The case attracted worldwide media attention. Picture: Alex Coppel.
The case attracted worldwide media attention. Picture: Alex Coppel.

"Finally, George Pell arrived and walked through the media to a barrage of questions being yelled and also abuse from protesters. I noticed a man yelling abuse directly in front of me and captured the moment Pell passed that man.

"It's rewarding to gain a strong image from such a historic news moment."

*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
 

Police had to form a barricade to separate Pell from the media, protesters and supporters. Picture: Alex Coppel.
Police had to form a barricade to separate Pell from the media, protesters and supporters. Picture: Alex Coppel.

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