How to photograph a royal visit.

It's the week before February 2nd, 2019.

I've been working with Bristol-based boxing charity Empire Fighting Chance for all of 4 weeks as a marketing executive.

Standing with my CEO, we look at the Twitter notifications mounting up on our phones and realise that the announcement has been made. The phone starts ringing. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be calling into our boxing gym the next week as part of a tour of Bristol.

Initially, we didn't really know what to do or how to react as it was so unexpected. And definitely the first time we've seen the full scale of a viral reaction to a piece of news - any piece of news - involving members of the Royal family, especially when they are as popular as Prince Harry and Meghan.

Once the Twitter buzz had died down, we received a phone call prepping us for the visit. And the protocols.

We were told there would be press teams in tow, national and local. Alongside the official Royal photographer, social media executives, the SAS... As you can imagine, a highly planned and strategic event.

Woke up on the morning of February 2nd to look out the window and see thick snow covering the pavement and roads outside. Surely royalty doesn't travel in these conditions.

We figured it was off. The Duchess was heavily pregnant at the time, surely they wouldn't risk a fall in an icy car park. Fortunately, the team pulled out all the stops to grit the car park and surrounding roads, and the Duke and Duchess were adamant for the visit to continue.

I will never forget standing outside the gym in the cold, as the crowd of onlookers cheered when the security team vehicles swooped into the car park.

As someone who was suffering with anxiety, I was understandably very nervous about messing up such an important day by not getting the photos we needed, while trying to portray an image of calm. The closest I've met to a celebrity before - let alone photographed - were underground musicians, famous only to their fans.

As a house photographer, I was the only photographer allowed outside and able to get shots of them arriving. The rest of the visit is genuinely still a blur.

I've not had to jostle for the best shot and angle with film crews and photographers before, and it was made even more interesting by virtue of having two large groups of school children training in both gyms, and the entire Empire Fighting Chance team/family, persons of interest such as the Mayor of Bristol, and anyone else who had warranted a meeting with royalty.

Ultimately, I was happy with the shots I got, as were the team. Working in tight, crowded spaces like a heavy bag room as below, being conscious of not getting in the way of those training, or the filming/other photographers, was a great experience. Fortunately, I now feel like there's not much from a photography perspective that will make me nervous after completing this challenge!

Feel free to let me know how you think I did in the comments!


Bristol, England |

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