Edmond Terakopian has been a photojournalist since 1989. His first taste of Leica came during the same year when he borrowed his father’s friend’s Leica M3 along with 35mm and 50mm lenses to take on assignment when he started on his local newspaper. Amongst his awards are a World Press Photo award for Spot News as well as being the British Press Awards Photographer of the Year. His work has been exhibited widely as well as being published in the majority of the world’s newspapers and magazines. Here Edmond shares the story behind his coverage of one of the year’s most anticipated events, the Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
One of the most popular picture sets I have shot has been the Royal wedding of Kate and William. Although five months have passed, the set still gets visitors with people constantly commenting on the images and the mood they convey. The black and white edit, my personal favourite set, has to date had almost 50,000 views. There is a timeless value to them; the black and white certainly adding to this, but more so with the street celebrations being very traditionally a British thing, along with the magnificent architecture of Westminster Abbey, The Mall and Buckingham Palace adding to this feel and look.
A British Royal wedding is always big news; not only for the UK but also internationally. My agency Polaris Images wanted me to cover the story but it had to be done in an interesting way to appeal to our magazine -based clients around the world. Wanting to do something which was unique and complete as a picture story, meant that any shots of the actual marriage would not work as all it would produce would be shots from one aspect (e.g. Westminster Abbey or Buckingham Palace). Logistically it would be impossible to move around as it would be one fixed position. I was more after an approach which would lead to a magazine story and decided that I would do the atmosphere of the wedding. After two weeks of research I found a traditional British style street party that would fit the bill. One other aspect which I found visually interesting was the whole memorabilia craze; everything from ashtrays to tea! This was fast becoming another aspect of the story for me.
Whilst out at a photographic awards ceremony two nights before the big day, I got an urgent email from one of my picture editors who had seen fans camping outside Westminster Abbey. I hadn’t planned on this. I was in my suit and all I had with me was my Leica X1. The second the ceremony finished, I rushed outside, jumped in a black London taxi and made my way toward the Abbey. The quality of pictures from the Leica X1 are so good that I was more than confident of being able to make some good photographs, even at high ISO settings.
I spent around an hour photographing the super fans. They had indeed built a little tent city and there was a lot of atmosphere. The next day I returned, but this time with my Leica M9 kit (21mm Elmarit, 35mm Summicron ASPH, 50mm Noctilux ASPH and 90mm Summarit). The tent city had grown as had the number of super fans. Loads of flags and, as I explored, loads of interesting characters emerged. Once I’d finished, I moved onto Buckingham Palace and The Mall where I knew more fans had begun to camp. Wandering around, meeting interesting folk and making interesting pictures — what a great day.
The next day was the day of the wedding so I got to the pub which had organised the street party. In proper British style, the street was closed off, tables and chairs were set out and bunting was hung between homes on either side. I began to work inside the pub at first where people had gathered to watch the ceremony on TVs. Although dim, the Noctilux made things easy and I got some wonderful images of the atmosphere and reaction of the people watching Prince William and Kate. The expressions perfectly mirrored the ceremony itself.
After the ceremony the party was in full swing and it was just a matter of looking out for moments. Laughter, dancing and good cheer made it an absolute joy to shoot. It had taken three days of work and weeks of research but I’d done it; I’d covered the Royal wedding in a photographically interesting and unique way.
Edmond’s work can be seen on www.terakopian.com. He also has a popular blog, photothisandthat.co.uk, and you can follow him on Twitter, @terakopian. Lastly, he’s a big fan of Flickr and shares a lot of his passion for street photography there, www.flickr.com/photos/terakopian.