In 2003 I was honoured to be asked to shoot and create the first-ever officially commissioned 3D/holographic portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, and so became the first ever royal holographer.
The project was commissioned to commemorate the Island of Jersey’s 800-year allegiance to the English throne and conducted as a creative collaboration between myself and designer-artist Chris Levine. In order to shoot the parallax image sequences needed, I designed and built my own high-speed, high-resolution, translating camera system – the VIP (Video Images with Parallax) – especially for the shoot.
As the name suggests, the system utilised a video camera which, in 2003, was one of the highest resolution video cameras available. By today’s standards its resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 pixels seems poor. The portrait has subsequently become well known in 2D and 3D forms.
Last summer, while isolating at my home in France, I found myself looking through my archive of digital images from the 2003 and 2004 sittings, and unearthed a video sequence only one second long.
The video had remained unnoticed on my hard drive for more than 18 years, unseen by anybody. I recalled that I had shot it as a test to check the usual creative variables of focus, exposure, lighting and composition, as The Queen readied herself just prior to commencing the actual shoot.
At that precise moment, Angela Kelly LVO, The Queen’s personal assistant, senior dresser and close friend, had said something to The Queen which had amused her. The Queen smiled and I captured this special moment. Upon examining the 30 frames one by one, I discovered a single, magical frame which depicted this moment.
The portrait showed a wonderful and natural moment of joyfulness. For me, the twinkle in The Queen’s eye and her somewhat whimsical expression demonstrated the close bond of trust between Her Majesty and her long-term friend and dresser which continues to this day. It is an uplifting portrait, full of life and vitality, and a befitting tribute to The Queen and her friend on the occasion of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. The portrait was unveiled on 4 May at The Dorchester Collection, London.