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Hey, Royal Highnesses, say cheese!

Jim Rankin - Staff reporter-photographer

Shooting famous people — with a camera — can be nerve-racking.


Early in my career, I had a freelance job to do a portrait of Mordecai Richler.

Star-struck, I went to great lengths to set up lights outside a bar where the writer I idolized was having his customary midday drink.

When it was time, I summoned him, drink in hand, and I shot. And shot. And shot.

Looked great, but this roll of film, I thought, was lasting a very long time. So, too, did Richler, whose Scotch was in need of a top up.

What I had not thought of . . . was film.

I decided Richler need not know this. I crouched, and, out of sight, slapped in a roll. I managed a few frames before my subject declared the shoot over. Thankfully, one shot worked.

Now, how about shooting famous people getting married?

Screw that up and, as the Queen would say, we will not be amused.

Prince William and Kate Middleton have chosen U.K. photographer Hugo Burnand to shoot post-ceremony pictures. He shot Charles and Camilla’s wedding in 2005, so it won’t be his first and his knees likely won’t knock.

Shooting any aspect of a royal wedding won’t be much fun, though, says Joe Buissink, a Beverly Hills celebrity wedding photographer who has shot the nuptials of Christina Aguilera, Hilary Swank, J-Lo, Brendan Fraser and Kelsey Grammer.

Review footage of past royal weddings, as Buissink has, and what you won’t see is a photographer having free reign to work the church the way a wedding shooter normally would.

“You don’t see one photographer anywhere around them,” notes Buissink.The shooter or shooters are likely penned in and restricted to one or two shooting areas that are specifically placed to be unobtrusive and out of sight of television cameras.

Wedding photographers
Boris Spremo's photo position for Prince Charles and Lady Diana's wedding was pretty nice centred and just above the AP.

“The images would be very difficult to shoot.”.

And then there are the formal posed portraits, which will likely be done quickly in a very controlled setting. Presumably, Burnand will have assistants to call out family.Oi! Grandma!First dance? Stay out of sight and shoot with a long lens, probably.“I don’t think that photography is an integral part of the royal wedding,” Buissink says.

Best advice for any wedding photographer? It’s not your day. Go with the flow, says Buissink. “Every wedding is important. It’s the most important day of their lives. Some photographers have this preconceived idea that the wedding is about them, and it isn’t.”

Buissink’s most nerve-racking wedding? It was early in his career. Renowned shooter Annie Leibovitz picked him to shoot her sister’s ceremony.

One of the world’s most celebrated living photographers, watching you photograph her family. What could go wrong?

Nothing did.“To me,” says Buissink, “that was royalty.”

Related blog posts,

Prince Andrew ready to shoot wedding if Burnand can't



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