Prince William marries Catherine Middleton
My day started at 5 am but our coverage plans started in January. It’s been a long slog, but finally the big day for Prince William, Kate Middleton and the world’s media had arrived! I hadn’t slept well the night before, partly because the central London hotel room was noisy and hot but partly down to my mind racing through a checklist – have I got this cable…. when should I fire that camera, will I be able to edit and send my pictures…. the list goes on.
I arrived at my office, put on my suit and tie. Shall I wear my walking boots or wear my smart shoes – it’s going to be a long day standing. Unusually I opted for the shoes and made my way to Westminster Abbey toting two bags and a tripod. According to reports, more than 8000 journalists were accredited to cover the Royal Wedding, of which there must have been 500+ photographers outside the Abbey, along the procession route and stationed opposite Buckingham Palace. I was one of a small handful of photographers inside the Abbey. I managed to grab a cup of coffee with a few of the other photographers who were assigned various positions inside. We all know each other and are fairly “well-seasoned”. But we all readily admit the butterflies are floating – we were all nervous.
After negotiating “airport” style security I took my position on The Abbots Pew, just inside the Great West Door. Various members of The Royal family would arrive culminating with the bride and her father. I’d already composed the picture in my head – Kate and her father would walk past the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and up the aisle. Nobody knew what her dress was going to look like, but it was going to be spectacular. I had only a few seconds to capture it all, so for insurance I set up two cameras on a tripod triggered by remotes. Every time I made a picture, I had two other different versions. Just in case!
Five trumpeters in all their finery made their way onto the balcony where I was positioned. A couple of them limbering up blowing air through their lips – like horses shooing a fly. My palms were sweating, one last check of my camera settings – The Queen was due to arrive. Things were starting to happen fast. I did a few wide angle pictures to capture the ambience of the Abbey, I photographed David Beckham and wife Victoria sitting just below, Elton John was opposite. Who else could I pick out from the crowds? All the time telling myself to relax. I’ve being doing this job for 20 years, and occasionally the nerves “jingle and jangle”. But we were nearly there. It’d all be over soon – you get a feeling I can only describe as something like you get on a trip to the dentist.
And when the bride arrived it was spectacular. The bells were peeling, her sister rearranged the train of the dress, Kate looked through her veil and smiled at her father. I’m lucky to witness the event – a small moment of British history. A privilege. One of the perks of being a press photographer or photojournalist.
Once they had walked past and up the aisle I had a few minutes to download my camera cards and “do” a first edit. I was speedily trying to pick the best pictures and queue them up on my laptop ready to send back to the awaiting editors chomping at the bit in the office. But the minutes whizzed along and it was nearly time to get ready for the “outs”. The money shot! I glanced over to a nearby television monitor I could tell we were getting close.
I could see Prince William and Catherine, now The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they walked back out along the aisle. I tracked them with a 300mm lens for as long as I dare before changing to a slightly shorter zoom lens. Also getting ready to shoot the remote camera as they passed the tomb in the floor. I have to admit I was waiting and hoping Kate would place her wedding posy on the tomb – a tradition from previous royal weddings. This would have been good for me and only me. But it didn’t happen, perhaps she forgot or other plans had been made. But it was still a nice picture as the couple passed by Elton John and other guests on their way to see the public camped outside the Abbey.
And once they had gone I waited for a few minutes photographing The Queen and The Prince of Wales before hastily packing away my equipment. I now needed to make it to
one of our internet cables -specially installed outside so I could send the pictures. The world’s media has a ravenous appetite when it comes to Royal Wedding pictures!
Rushing out of the Abbey, a few seconds wasted being interviewed for a television crew! It was beginning to dawn on me just what I’d witnessed. Wow. But I still thought the best moment for me was when she arrived, minutes away from joining Britain’s Royal Family. Outside I eventually found a colleague and a LAN cable, after a few minutes and a few technical problems – a slightly heated conversation with a technician I connected to the internet and my pictures were going. I’d selected 50 frames and sent them “raw” to the office. The editors can deal with it. I gotta run, I need to be on Downing Street as soon as I can – they’re having a street party. And I’m to the next assignment.