For the first time I saw Mr. Zelenskiy on the all fools day, 1 April, during the first voting when I worked with Emilio Morenatti as a fixer. I got a huge ladder for Emilio and he told me I should photograph Zelenskiy as he walks from the car, just in case. I got surprisingly close.
This photo wasn’t used by AP. Then someone I respect a lot told me that Zel would be giving blood tests and that I should go take a pic. As I respect this person a lot I decided that I should definitely do my best and get the best shot. I arrived early and discovered there were already a lot of reporters waiting for him. Some of them were tall guys and whenever they were around before I couldn’t get through. So I decided to figure something out. I entered the lab to use the toilet and looked around. I saw a small group of people checking out the same thing - where the lab itself is and where to go. I followed them and tried to speak and ask if I could enter the lab to shoot. Nobody responded. April is still cold in Ukraine and I was wearing my coat. So I went to the closet and left them the coat, big backpack and asked for halat. And then those medical plastic covers for shoes
. First I was given the branded halat that later employees of the lab asked me to change. So I waited for Zel to enter and it was a huge crowd of reporters surrounding him. Based on the April 1 experience I knew I have no chance in the crowd so I went to the lab. I didn’t follow Zel, I was there before. And then his security started pushing away photographers who were on the other side of the door, saying that this is “procedural room”. They were dressed as they came from the street and asked "can I enter in these shoe covers?" And Zelenskiy said "yeah, in shoe cowers you can"