Royalty

As a working Army photographer we do from time to time get the opportunity to cover royalty visits etc.  Some more than others.  Royalty covers quite a range from some of the more high-profile to the more discrete.  It has been my good fortune to have the opportunity to photograph Prince Charles and his sons William and Harry.  I have also now had the opportunity to photograph His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent on three different occasions, once he even made the trip out to Iraq to visit the Scots Guards.Now if I am honest, photographing royalty at these kind of formal affairs is not what I would call great photography as I can’t avoid the barriers.  The Royal family has in recent years been a target for the media which I feel has resulted in many of them being much more guarded as they have been in the past.  I suppose the goal for a photographer in these circumstances is to try to capture real emotion from an unguarded moment which sounds easy but the reality is much harder.Even when a photographer is dressed in military uniform you just can’t avoid the feeling of suspicion from the royal family and there is rarely any kind of connection with the photographer.  I do feel this is a shame as I ultimately believe their personality is never truly portrayed.  But then when we record these type of events although we can offer images to media outlets, they are primarily used by the hosting units and for historical archives.  I do need to explain though that I really value the archival importance of these events and they do need to be exhaustively covered, no matter just how dull it may seem at the time.This occasion was a visit to 2nd Regiment of Royal Fusiliers, who are currently based in Celle, Northern Germany.  Any Royal visit is always taken very seriously by the hosting unit and in this case the Duke is their Colonel in Chief.  The Duke is (from my experience) always respectful and will pay a lot of attention to the soldiers he meets and is keen to ask any relevant questions.  I will always try to catch eye contact with a view to “make contact”, but invariably to no avail, as frustrating as this is I completely understand.These visits can often be a good opportunity to record some of the stands and demonstrations.  In this case the unit put on a public order display, which although was only a demonstration, it was quite a realistic scenario meaning the drills needed to be up to scratch.Non the less these opportunities are great for practising your photography, you will often have to think fast to focus compose and get your exposure settings right.  Yes I know it’s not real, but by using training to try some options adds ideas to the memory banks, so if you were ever to cover this kind of environment for real, you at least have some idea of what does and doesnt work.  Photographers can stagnate and the only real solution is to keep playing.Sometimes you have to bear in mind that you never know what kind of photographic opportunities will present themselves.  You can usually find a couple of decent images around you even if they are not related to the story.

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