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.
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.