The chances of officially Photographing Royalty or a key member of the Royal Family are likely to be quite rare…
There may be opportunities where you are lucky enough as a professional photographer to be part of a staged photo call where Photographing Royalty occurs. Numerous Press Photographers lucky enough to be given accreditation for pre planned public events is an option. If you happen to be linked to an agency or publication, this is possibly your best chance to gain exposure with Royals, but this is unlikely to result in a face to face meeting or the requirement to have to physically direct or compose photographs with a member of the Royal Family.
During the summer of 2017 Lee Blanchflower Limited were given the honour of Photographing Royalty, working as the official photographer to a Private Event attended by HRH The Duke of Cambridge. The first ever playing of the Royal Charity Cup was held in Norfolk. It was a Private Polo Match for named guests only and played at The Norfolk Polo Club where the Duke of Cambridge rode for the Tarmac Team. So how do you prepare for Photographing Royalty and what do you need to know about protocol?
Restrictions & Contracts Photographing Royalty
We have had the pleasure of taking photographs of Royalty at a number of public events, but official assignments are vey different. Firstly, security will be of paramount importance for any member of the Royal attendance. It’s almost a certainly that your details will be forwarded and checked by Police to ensure that you do not pose any known threats. Your client may ask you to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement. This is a contract through which the parties agree not to disclose information covered by the agreement. An NDA creates a confidential relationship between the parties to protect any type of confidential and proprietary information. Alternatively, you may be tied down to a written contract, forbidding you to sell the images to any third parties or News Agencies. Wether you choose to sign this type of document is a personal choice. It’s also worth noting that if you are lucky enough to photograph an engagement without a contract and then sell the images, you may damage your reputation and any trust that you have with your client.
Tip 1- Discretion
On this occasion, the attendance of Prince William was not publicised and as the Official Photographer, the first element of Photographing Royalty is that discretion is of uttermost importance. We have had the pleasure of taking photographs of Royalty at a number of public events, but official assignments are vey different. Publicly broadcasting your assignment or details about a proposed visit could potentially result in a cancelled engagement and confidentiality and discretion are expected.
The Press Office
Guidelines for the type of interaction and images that Royal Press Officers permit, are strictly vetted and permission for Press Releases for Royal Photography will generally be at the discretion of the Press Officer. Each member of the Royal Family will have an assigned Press Officer for Events. As an example, Kensington Palace will oversee PR for Prince William and will request all images be electronically sent for approval prior to being authorised for distribution for any editorial purposes. Following the Royal Charity Cup in Norfolk, two images were authorised for distribution to Media outlets, which were used extensively across the UK Media outlets to accompany a Press Release.
Tip 2 – Introductions
There are definite protocols attached to Photographing Royalty. On presentation to the Queen, the correct address is ‘Your Majesty’, followed subsequently by ‘Ma’am’, which should be pronounced with a short ‘a’, as in ‘jam’. The same rules apply for male members of the royal family, with the title ‘Your Royal Highness’ used in the first instance, followed by ‘Sir’. For other female royals, the first address is ‘Your Royal Highness’, later followed by ‘Ma’am’. It’s an interesting fact that according to the British Monarchy website, there are actually “no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting the Queen”, but it notes that “observing the traditional forms” is in fact the correct and trusted means of ensuring you do not offend. For ladies, that includes a small curtsy when meeting the monarch, while for the men it is a ‘neck bow’, from the head only. Alternatively, it notes, some opt to shake her hand. The chance of a formal introduction even working in the role of official photographer are extremely unlikely, so there is a point where perhaps you have to uncomfortably break protocol for the benefit of artistic license. For more on this, read on… See Tip 3)
Tips 3- Verbal Communication
There is some debate about how, when and the extent of verbal communication that is permitted upon meeting a member of the Royal Family. When photographing Royalty, this particular element of etiquette has to be a personal decision based on individual circumstances. Using HRH The Duke of Cambridge as an example, you would not under normal circumstances, strike up conversation with Prince William until such time that Prince William had spoken to you first. However, when directing images as an Official Photographer, there is a need to direct the subjects of photographs which can make this aspect a little difficult. It is advisable therefore to use the bare minimum of verbal communication, remain polite and respectful. Members of the Royal Family are very familiar with the manner in which photographers operate.
Tip 4 – Touching
When it comes to physical contact, the only form of acceptable touching is a formal handshake. He said there is always someone from the public who manages to put their arm around one of the members of the Royal Family and the media are very good at bringing this kind of behaviour to light. One example of this took place on a tour of the USA when The Dutchess of Cambridge met basketball star, LeBron James in New York City. The consistent media coverage of Royals gives a false impression that we the public actually know the Royal Family, but this is far from true and etiquette should be observed and respected.
Tip 5 – Selfies
The quick answer is… Don’t do it! Some photographers (And I have to say I’ seriously guilty) just love to mingle with the celebrities they photograph and the chance to post out selfies across their social media. Photographing Royalty is completely different. It’s not that members of the Royal Family refuse, but it’s been reported that The Queen ‘Misses Eye’ contact and generally the whole selfie culture is a tad frowned upon and left to members of the public grabbing a quick phone image as members of the Royal Family conduct their public duties.
The 2017 Norfolk Polo Festival took place at The Norfolk Polo Club. The Festival, running for seven years, has established itself as one of the most highly anticipated social events in East Anglia. To see a great gallery of images from the 2017 Festival, simply Click HERE