Kate Griffin Photography // child & family portraits in Surrey, Hampshire & London » celebrating family life in london, surrey and hampshire

faces in the crowd // royal wedding street portraits

I’ve had a bit of an experience. An entirely good one. Great in fact. Thursday, I was watching the news, marvelling at the mad and the muddled who had started to camp out on the pavement outside Westminster Abbey. Tents up, sleeping bags unrolled and bottles of bubbly at the ready. 2 whole days before the royal wedding. Mental.

But I loved them for it. The effort in the face of certain discomfort – such a brilliant display of eccentricity, how could I possibly miss it? Now I’m not one for crowds (plus I need quick and easy access to facilities) so waving a flag on the day was not an option. Instead, I decided this was the perfect time for me to be a little bit brave and get out amongst everyone the night before the wedding, trying my hand at something that has fascinated me for a long while – street portraiture.

I made the decision early on that I wanted my portraits to be all about the people that had turned up, in advance, in abundance to celebrate the wedding of William and Kate (great name, Duchess!). I love a bit of pomp and ceremony, I watched it all this morning from a very comfortable sofa, marvelling at the dress, the tree-lined aisle, the trumpets, the excellent bridesmaids who covered their ears at every opportunity. But what I wanted to capture was the story behind the big day – because any big day is only the gathering of a thousand little moments.

On Thursday afternoon, I jump on the train up to London, preparing myself for the fact that I was about to start approaching total strangers on the street and ask them if I could take their portraits. A challenge to say the least.

Heart in mouth, camera in hand, I emerged from Westminster underground station to find myself in an electric atmosphere. People from every corner of the globe, draped in union jacks, getting ready for a long night camping out under the stars and to the hourly sound of Big Ben. After a few hesitant, failed approaches (I just couldn’t pluck up the courage to ask), I finally thought – I will never get this chance again. This moment will never come around again and I want to capture it. I want to meet the people mad enough to be here, happy enough to be celebrating the wedding of the year.

So I crossed the road, removed my lens cap, took a deep breath and asked…

…and you know what? People smiled and said yes. Then the next person said yes, and the next. I thought I would be there for an hour, that I might get a few to stop for me. Over 3 hours later, with the sun setting over London, I was overwhelmed by the warmth, friendliness, madness, and brilliance of those people you saw today in the crowd. All those waving flags, cheering the happy couple on, clinking plastic flutes of champagne with the new friends they’d made, all of those faces hold their own personal story of the day. Here are the incredible people I met.

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I make no apology for the length of this post and the number of pictures – I hoped to have the courage to ask, I thought I might spend an hour shooting a handful of portraits. So what actually happened was overwhelming, in a wonderful way.

To the people, the families, the fabulous kids, the madmen, the princesses, those in flared, glittery royal blue jumpsuits (with matching sapphire ring), the ladies in hats, the ladies who made their own hats, the dogs, the oldest fan, the official Princess Diana superfan, the recently married, the recently engaged, the excited, emotional, incredible people from the campsite in the shadow of Westminster Abbey – thank you. Thank you so much. You gave me an evening to remember – a shooting experience I will never forget. I hope you had the most incredible day today – I’m sure you did. You didn’t just witness a historic moment – you were part of it. Maybe my very favourite part.

I scanned the faces in the crowd this morning, I looked for you all again today when a Prince married his sweetheart, kissing her twice on the balcony.

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  • April 29, 2011 - 2:41 pm

    Julie Skelton - Fan-bloomin’-tastic! This post made me smile from ear to ear, what a tremendously memorable collection of pictures. Wow!ReplyCancel

  • April 29, 2011 - 2:48 pm

    Claire Penn - Didn’t watch the wedding, went shopping when I knew it would be quiet, and besides I have it on Sky+ and I only really want to see the dress…..

    Damn you Kate. This brought a tear to my eye and now I’m going to have to watch the whole damn thing, probably weeping while I do and make my husband cross. Resistance is futile.

    Love what you did, who you captured and what it meant to you. Now I wan tto know each person’s story… please. 🙂 xxxReplyCancel

  • April 29, 2011 - 2:50 pm

    Sarah Lewis - These are absolutely amazing images! You really have a special talent 🙂ReplyCancel

  • April 29, 2011 - 2:58 pm

    Roger Griffiths - What an outstanding post Kate absolutely love it and thanks for posting, made my day. Fantastic set of images, what a memory of a great day 🙂ReplyCancel

  • April 29, 2011 - 4:05 pm

    Louisa Rose - Seriously in awe of these Kate! What a fabulous time you must have had, I can just feel the excitement and emotion in all these images. You have captured a nation in a perfectly rare moment in time so admirably! Well done!ReplyCancel

  • April 29, 2011 - 4:55 pm

    rosie bray - WOW WOW WOW!! These are so brilliant Kate – gorgeous portraits, wonderful expressions and faces. Good skills my friend. I can’t pick a favourite – I love them all.ReplyCancel

  • April 29, 2011 - 5:40 pm

    Fiona Humberstone - Fantastic post. Love the portraits! You very clever, brave lady xReplyCancel

  • April 30, 2011 - 6:01 am

    Leslie - I love it!! I woke up at 1:30am Canada time to watch the festivities~ it was so worth it, as was your great lengthy post. You captured the spirit beautifully!ReplyCancel

  • April 30, 2011 - 12:15 pm

    Kerrie Mitchell - Kate this is a wonderful blog post! I completely admire your courage in approaching these people and taking their photographs and you did a great job of it. I recently had a mini break down on the street when trying to do some face to face market research, I just couldn’t approach people and it made me so annoyed at myself! So I’d love just an ounce of your bravery 🙂ReplyCancel

  • April 30, 2011 - 4:45 pm

    Emma Davenport - Yesterday brought our mixed bag of a nation together and you’ve really captured that. Brilliant and brave portraits, Kate. You’ve caught an atmosphere very few TV cameras managed!ReplyCancel

  • April 30, 2011 - 5:22 pm

    Sophie's Mum - Brilliant!ReplyCancel

  • May 1, 2011 - 9:54 am

    Sheree - Love, love, love this post Kate. I think you summed up the day perfectly, the elation, the coming-together-joyfulness that we all felt for their wedding day. Truly remarkable – and you will never forget being part of the history of it, and you having documented the feeling with these amazing images (a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity), of everyone is brilliant! Well done you!ReplyCancel

  • May 1, 2011 - 11:48 am

    Alexandra Andrews - Oh Kate, I so wish I’d have had your enthusiasm to get down there and soak it all in with a camera in my hand, but I doubt I would have had your talent and produced work like this. Amazing and as Claire said, I want to know all about the people in the pictures now.ReplyCancel

  • May 1, 2011 - 3:04 pm

    Lisa - You rock!
    These portraits are fantastic. You have really captured the spirit of the moment. I can not wait to do some street portraits with you 🙂ReplyCancel

  • May 2, 2011 - 5:51 pm

    Heather Prosser - I am one of the ladies in hats – don’t know if we are mad or muddled but we had an absolutely fantastic, once in a lifetime experience that we will remember always. The kindness and generosity of all we met has regenerated my faith in the human race! Thanks so much for the brilliant photos. Heather (and on behalf of Stevie, Christine and Anne)ReplyCancel

  • May 3, 2011 - 12:00 pm

    Claire Park - Wow..what a fabulous representation of a truly memorable day! Love your photographs…when is it you’re coming again to do mine?xxxReplyCancel

  • May 13, 2011 - 1:22 pm

    Elizabeth - Kate, you kindly photographed my sister and I with our Tiara’s on that wonderful evening, and I’m SO HONORED to be a part of your collection! I kept your card but was a little skeptical about your motivation for taking our pictures. I’m so happy I checked your website out and found this post. I loved reading about how YOU came to be there and YOUR experience. We had just arrived from New York via Heathrow and had not slept yet as we couldn’t wait to “get in the action” at the Abbey. The atmosphere was fantastic and I personally enjoyed the “Wedding Eve” more than the actual Wedding Day. However being there was SO important to my sister and I and we did it! I know I would NOT have been happy watching it on TV from the USA. We live in America, but are British and very proud of it! Your words and photographs stir my emotions of the very special time we had and the expressions captured by your talented hand speak loudly to the level of excitement and anticipation felt by all present. I’m so happy you mustered up the courage to do it and I hope that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge see this as I’m sure they too would be proud of your work. GOOD JOB KATE!ReplyCancel

  • June 1, 2011 - 1:20 am

    Lisa Burgess - Kate Griffin, I am in awe of you. I wish so much to have 1% of the skill you do to capture the essence of a person and the ambiance of the environment. I completely love your work. Thank you so much for the fantastic start to the day!ReplyCancel

  • August 2, 2011 - 6:51 pm

    backstage at Opera Holland Park // london portrait photographer | kate griffin photography blog // child & family portrait photographer for surrey & london - […] already developed a taste for street portrait photography – a slightly frightening but simple process which involves wearing a smile (plus a socially […]ReplyCancel

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