THROUGH THE LENS: un­for­get­table royal images

Meet the man whose thrilling day job takes him around the world cap­tur­ing your favourite royal mo­ments. Chris Jack­son talks ex­clu­sively to Juliet Rieden.

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents -

Chris Jack­son has the best job in the world, at least that’s how he sees it and as some­one who has watched him work in stun­ning lo­ca­tions all over the globe, I’m in­clined to agree. For the past 15 years, Chris (above) has trav­elled to the most ex­traor­di­nary places you can imag­ine, met peo­ple from all walks of life, a cor­nu­copia of cul­tures, and yes, he does all this as well as tak­ing pho­to­graphs of the royal fam­ily, of­ten trav­el­ling on the same planes as his sub­jects.

This is the man who shot Kate and Wil­liam ro­man­ti­cally gaz­ing at Paris from be­hind the huge clock in the Musée d’Or­say, cap­tured the Queen laugh­ing un­con­trol­lably with her son and hus­band at the High­land Games in Scot­land, who reg­u­larly goes to Africa with Prince Harry, who took those but­ter-wouldn’t-melt cameos of Prince Ge­orge play­ing with bub­bles at a chil­dren’s party in Canada and his of cial toothy fourth birth­day por­trait; the mys­ti­cal images of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Corn­wall in In­dia and the Duke and Duchess of Sus­sex newly-wed, wav­ing from their car­riage. These shots end up on the front pages of mag­a­zines, news­pa­pers and web­sites ev­ery­where, and “the buzz of see­ing my work on news­stands, that’s some­thing that’s never gone away,” says Chris.

His of cial ti­tle is “Getty Images Royal Pho­tog­ra­pher” and he’s one of a small club of ap­proved royal pho­tog­ra­phers who fol­low the monar­chy. Chris is in­vited to the roy­als’ pub­lic en­gage­ments, into their palaces and cas­tles and also on some in­cred­i­bly special royal trips. He is one of a cho­sen few given the best van­tage points to record royal his­tory, of­ten only an arm’s length from the most fa­mous fam­ily in the world, and he still can’t be­lieve it.

“I’m very lucky to work in this weird and won­der­ful world and pho­to­graph these amaz­ing faces of the royal fam­ily,” he says.

Pro­to­col and sen­si­tiv­ity (and good man­ners!) are key. Dress codes are strict and “no” al­ways means “no”, en­gen­der­ing a hasty re­treat. You mustn’t get too close, use a ash at awk­ward mo­ments or make a noise in places like West­min­ster Abbey or the War Me­mo­rial.

“It’s very im­por­tant to be re­spect­ful of the sit­u­a­tion you’re in,” says Chris. “And you need to al­ter your be­hav­iour de­pend­ing on who you are with. There’s a dif­fer­ent pro­to­col – maybe not of cially – but cer­tainly for each fam­ily mem­ber.

“I get ex­cited ev­ery time I pho­to­graph the Queen, it’s a real priv­i­lege. She has this amaz­ing aura and peo­ple love to see her; she’s iconic. For a pho­tog­ra­pher, that never wears off.” So how close does he get? “Phys­i­cally, I would be a cou­ple of me­tres away from the Queen. I’m quite con­scious of how many pic­tures I’m tak­ing. Whereas with the Duchess of Corn­wall, for ex­am­ple, she might come over and have a bit of a chat.”

As well as diplo­macy and po­litesse, speed and a keen eye for the best “sight line” are also para­mount. For Prince Harry’s wed­ding, Chris was tasked with shoot­ing a dou­ble page of the cou­ple in the car­riage. “I needed this pic­ture and it was re­ally tough. If you went a lit­tle bit too high you didn’t get Harry’s eyes in the pic­ture. There is a dif­fer­ence be­tween hero and zero which is so nar­row, and it was to­tal luck. Some pho­tog­ra­phers fur­ther down from me got no pic­tures.”

Chris says his best shots are of the royal chil­dren. “These are the more can­did shots and they’re prob­a­bly my favourites be­cause they make you smile. They’re just nice pic­tures of chil­dren. It could be any­one’s chil­dren but he [Prince Ge­orge] is the fu­ture King of Eng­land and kind of special.”

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