Photographers' Blog

The Royal couple say “I will” and I won’t (…be photographed)

May 1, 2011

The dust settles in London as scaffolding, media platforms and gantries are dismantled and the world’s news organizations pack up and leave town. Their job complete with hundreds of news programs run, and countless special supplements and newspaper and magazine fronts globally filled with memorable photographs from the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29th.

I was one of the Reuters photographers assigned to an official spot and ringside view: outside of Westminster Abbey as the happy couple emerged immediately after the actual ceremony. Light cloud gave good even light and an unfettered view meant after months of team preparation and logistical headaches, me and my colleagues/rivals in our spot got the right frames transmitted in speedy time for that part of the day and the Palace got the images of record they wanted.

Job done.

36 hours earlier, after 10 hours perched precariously high up on a set of steps shooting between narrow iron railings, in the fading light on a handheld 500mm lens with 2 x converter, through two side windows of a couple of police vans positioned to prevent news media getting a picture, I took the second frame of William, Kate and best man Prince Harry. They were 200 meters away, walking into a discreet back entrance to Westminster Abbey to conduct a last minute rehearsal of the wedding ceremony.

Which picture was the most rewarding? Which picture the most important? Which picture stronger?

The actual wedding frames we all shot: outside the Abbey, the Balcony kiss and the open-top Just Wed car drive – these will get used again and again and it will be those images that are ingrained into the collective public memory.

The rehearsal ‘snatch’ frame is optically terrible (at such a distance and in bad light through two reflective glass windows), compositionally poor (all three subjects are in profile and partially obscured), and media were not wanted (hence the massive and elaborate measures to obstruct our view and evade our attention). But just on that one day, with perceived interest in the wedding preparations of the couple at fever pitch (hence Reuters decision that it WAS in the public interest to doorstep them), to my knowledge it was the only occasion that William and Kate were snapped together the week before they met at the altar.

So the personal satisfaction, perhaps relief, in getting that frame is almost as great as the wedding day pictures. Though I have to admit that Kate and William are probably more recognizable in Tracey Emins ‘kiss’ sketch on the April 30 front of the Independent newspaper than in my rehearsal frames….

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