By SnapSquad - June 23, 2019

You are a wedding photographer, or perhaps you are not but you have experienced working with one at your own wedding. Whichever the case, you happen to be familiar with the qualities required to capture and immortalise a couple’s BIG day with a camera: an understanding of the newlyweds personal style, finalising choices, planning details, surprises… you get the picture (pun intended).

Now let’s imagine what a royal wedding day takes out of a photographer!  

Hugo Burnand and Alexi Lubomirski were chosen, respectively, to shoot the official wedding photographs of Prince William and Kate and Prince Harry and Meghan. For these two photographers whose journey to professional stardom was a bit different and often continents away, meeting the two royal couples too happened in very different circumstances. What they do share, obviously, is a passion for their art doubled with a talent for organisation and a special sensitivity to what must be done to make their subjects, of all ranks and all ages, model-like naturals.

Hugo Burnand first met William in 2005 while on another official wedding shot, that of Prince Charles’ and Camilla’s. As he became a familiar of the Prince of Wales’ and his family, it did not come too much as a surprise when Prince William picked him for his own official wedding pictures.

"HRH Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton have selected Hugo Burnand to be their official photographer at their wedding on the 29th April. Mr Burnand will be taking the official photographs at Buckingham Palace following the wedding at Westminster Abbey."

Alexi Lubomirski had never met Harry or Meghan before they made their engagement official. In fact, they found him on Instagram! Quite a celebrity himself, Lubomirsky who worked with Mario Testino for four years has established his name within the fashion industry with magazines such as FACE, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. He has also become a photographer of the stars and yet, this is not how he came to know Meghan. Having made contact, Harry and Meghan hired Lubomirski to take pictures of their engagement and the relationship led to him taking the couple’s wedding shots at Windsor.

Planning & Organisation

Official royal wedding family portraits are taken inside the palace and less than half an hour can be allocated to the whole photo shoot. Preparing for those events, photographers have only a few days to plan the setting up of their equipment and practise their shots. Burnand recalls that he and his team virtually made the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace their home for a few days!                                                                                                        
Lubomirski too planned everything to details and explained this in an interview with CBS: “I like to plan as much as possible so that if anything goes wrong I can go back to those base plans”. The unknown, for both photographers, was the children.


There is a huge amount of equipment involved (with lots of spares) especially when it comes to controlling the ideal lighting conditions. Burnand wanted the light to reflect a spring day, no matter what the unpredictable weather would be outside. To achieve the perfect light, they had to take into account not only windows, but every reflective element in the room, and this of course, without changing anything. 

Lubomirski in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle wanted to avoid regimented and linear photos. Again lighting had to play a major part to bring out all the efforts put into the placing of every family member, bridegrooms and bridesmaids to look easy going and natural.

Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

Royal weddings operate like clockwork at every stage of the occasion throughout the whole day.
Both photographers remember how they and their teams had to respect a meticulous time-keeping. Burnand even organised rehearsals with stopwatches!

Lobomirski practised making sure he would take the six setups planned within the 25 minutes allocated. Talking about the famous black and white intimate portrait of Harry and Meghan sitting on the stairs, he revealed that he only had just over three minutes to take some quick shots. The precious time when you think that the picture received more than two million likes on Instagram!

Ready for everything, even Bribery

Royal photographers do not leave anything unprepared. They practice for everything; they think about anything that could happen. Children, however, royal or not, remain the unknown factor and with them, anything can happen; this is why these two photographers resorted shamelessly to bribery with jelly beans and Smarties.

Lobomirski explains that although you have to work within certain boundaries, and if you want to make it interesting and not regimented, Smarties are probably the smartest way to get both children and even the Queen to smile.

Something for all Photographers

I’d like to share this statement Alexi Lobomirski made after the royal wedding:

"It has been an incredible honour and privilege to document The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's inspiring journey of love, hope and family; from the engagement photos, all the way through to the official wedding and family portraits on Saturday. This has been a beautiful chapter in my career and life, that I will happily never forget."

You may not be a royal photographer but feelings such as those are definitely universal.

Note: Burnand and his team photographed Gabriella Windsor’s wedding on May 18th.

Video of Burnand working:  Vimeo

Lubomirski shot this photo of just the newlyweds on the East Terrace of Windsor Castle after their wedding.

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