Queen Elizabeth 60th Jubilee Portrait Session (behind the scenes)

On the weekend of her 60th anniversary on the throne, I thought it may finally be a good time to mention that I met the Queen.

I had a surreal time assisting my father in shooting her official portrait on the 1st of July, 2010 for the occasion of her upcoming diamond jubilee that falls on this current weekend, June 2nd / 3rd 2012 (also my birthday weekend but that feels like a moot point in comparison).

So just a little history here: My father Michael Bedford, a professional photographer since 1970, was called out of an early semi-retirement by Heritage Canada in early 2010, asking him if he would photograph her majesty for the occasion of her 60th anniversary on the throne to which he gladly accepted. – Just to note, he wasn’t new to this kind of offer – this would be the fourth occasion in his long career that he had photographed Queen Elizabeth II (once in the late 70’s, the next in 1982 for Canada Act, then again in 2002 for her 50th anniversary on the throne). Naturally he needed an assistant for the job and asked me to fill that role. To which I too gladly accepted (I think I dropped the candy-bar I was eating at the time from surprise and excitement).

So as it happened, on the morning of Canada Day 2010 we made our way to the tent room at Rideau Hall in Ottawa (we had scouted the location thoroughly a month before to assess the room, light, etc…) , set up a Hasselblad 500c/m and a Nikon D200, some umbrellas, a podium, and waited anxiously for the Queen to arrive. At 10 o’clock she appeared adorned in a white gown, tons of jewels, a tiara, and all that. It was kind of a trip being (loosely) introduced – My dad and another gentleman (who has used my dad’s portrait as reference for a painting he will soon unveil) were ‘officially’ (re)-introduced.

So the shooting began and ended rather quickly as she was on a tight schedule. I was very impressed not only by her ability to pose perfectly (she’s had much practice) but for my dad’s ease and flow, speaking with her casually (but respectfully), and coming off cool as a cucumber. It was an interesting lesson in the importance of engaging with one’s subjects and making them feel comfortable in front of the camera, even if they’ve already been photographed (quite literally) a billion times before.

She was cordially shuffled away by her assistant immediately after the shoot was finished (probably all of 10 or 15 minutes total with a short break in between – a LOT of time considering her time is precious).

So check out the behind the scenes photos above – the camera crew also present were doing a documentary for the National Film Board of Canada.

If you have any questions about the experience, I’d be happy to share them with you.

p.s. I’m not exactly sure when the official portrait will be unveiled, but it should be soon. When you see it, please take note of the subtle retouching work (if you can’t see it then I’ve done my job right) – that was my job too.

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