On Friday morning I found myself taking part in a small slice of history and after weeks of anticipation I arrived in Westminster just before the sun rose and slowly made my from the car laden with equipment to my position for the big day. Even at such an early time in the morning there were already large crowds of excited members of the public gathered curb-side behind barriers, some of whom had been camped out for days. Fortunately for me everything had been prearranged by ballot so I already had a spot marked on the Crimean Memorial directly opposite the West Gate of the Abbey and didn't have the stress of the "first come first serve"situation that other photographers did in other positions .
This didn't stop myself and others finding other things to worry about though and from 6am until the first arrivals at around 10.30am the discussion instead focused on where the Royal Couple would kiss for the first time, would the mobile networks work , which focal length , iso and f stop to use and of course who was going to get the coffees! There was also the question of remotes, some of the agency photographers had a number of cameras on remote, the majority opting for a wide and a telephoto zoom such as the 70-200 2.8. With only 3 SLR cameras; a 5D MkII and two 1D MkIv's, I couldn't possibly do the same so opted for just one remote using a 5DMKII and 16-35 mounted on a Manfrotto Magic Arm triggered using Pocketwizard Plus II's, but on the U.S bandwidth which meant they wouldn't be interfered with too much by other photographers remotes. In retrospect this was probably a mistake and perhaps should've shot tighter on perhaps a 50 or 70 but at the time I was happy to have anything up at all ! After some deliberation with other photographers about where the Royal newlyweds might stop to pose I opted to use the Canon 400 2.8L as my main lens and the 70-200 2.8 L with the fantastic new 1.4 MkIII extender (both courtesy of Frankie Jim at Canon UK) as my looser lens both mounted on a MkIV's.
From our position we could catch all the Royal and Foreign dignitary arrivals but occasionally we could hear loud cheers as some of the more popular guests such as the Beckhams arrived at the other gate, we of course could see nothing except for some of the photographers on the opposite stand focusing their long lenses in the direction of the crowd noise. Finally the focus of all out attentions began to arrive, first of all a slightly nervous looking Prince William and his brother Harry and then finally Kate Middleton who looked absolutely stunning and her father Michael, who's top hat tumbled out onto the road as his door was opened.
Before the event there had been lots of talk about mobile bandwidths being restricted and the possibility of not being able to wire our images back to our publications and some had opted for incredibly expensive internet cables lines . As I sent the first arrival shots whilst the wedding ceremony took place in fact although the 3g networks were working fine and the option of walking back to the office in Victoria afterwards with all my kit to upload there was now finally laid to rest !
In the end the shots of William and Kate leaving the the Abbey after tying the knot worked out really well and although I shot on RAW I'd got my exposures pretty much bang on by compensating for the dark background of the Abbey interior. Somehow I also managed to get both William and Kate looking directly at me, almost impossible in even a controlled environment and the next day the image was used down the whole page of the Daily Telegraph's souvenir pullout, I may not have got the kiss but it was a pretty good result !