It really begins some weeks before when the Foreign Ministry of Denmark publish which spaces will be available for the press during the event. One can then apply for those spaces, and two weeks prior to the actual event, a small group of Danish media people gathers and decides which media will get which spaces.
The most desirable is of course two spaces for still photographers inside the church, but these goes to the two major Danish wire service agencies Polfoto and Scanpix as they will not monopolize their photos, but distribute them out to the rest of the media worldwide via AP, Getty and other major wire agencies they work with. It would be highly unlikely that those spaces went to say a German media.
Pool 4 – here with Line Nørgaard Thomsen from Danish news-service Ritzau (a Danish parallel to Associated Press) in the foreground, and security people in the background.
I got a space in pool 4 along the red carpet and just opposite the main entrance to the church. In this we were ca. 22 photographers and videographers, and is mandatory if you want to photograph all the guests. The royal weeklies and some of the daily papers had 4-6-8 photographers working in different pools.
You may wonder why so many photographers, when really, two could shoot it all and distribute the results. Apart from competition, there’s different viewpoints and interests at play as each media has their own audience. There’s German media, Dutch media, local newspapers from the area, royal weeklies, international picture agencies, national news agencies, web-television, two national television stations and a local, etc.
A Danish couple being interviewed and photographed by royal weeklies while other medias doesn’t care to even take notice.
The royal weeklies cover it all; all the guests, which dresses the ladies wear, why one of the guests has his arm in a plaster cast, how the young Prince Christian behave (who will be king in 40-50 years time). And so on.
The German media are in general all over any royal story but probably don’t know any of the Danish celebrities and have no reason to cover for their German audience.
I covered for the worlds largest picture agency, Getty Images, as well as USA’s number one entertainment picture agency, WireImage, and they deliver to American, Japanese, German, Turkish media, etc. So for me the viewpoints are many, though I can entirely skip the only-known-in-Denmark celebrities who will never make it into an American or Japanese magazine. But our Queen Margrethe II is known for being stylish with her dresses and accessories, so some American media will spend some space on covering that. And our Crown Princess Mary is known for the same, but is on top of that a young and good-looking mother with a fairytale route from Australia to Danish kingdom – which makes her a very interesting person in Australian medias of course, as well as all media dealing with celebrity and fashion, whatever their angle is her motherhood, royalty, the dress, the hair or whatever. But she’s up there in the high interest band.
The German part of the royal family one could easily forget, but that would be an error. While they might not even make it into the Danish media at all, a German magazine might fill a full page with them, only including a small picture of the newly baptized prince. It’s just different audience.
A funny thing is that from the royal wedding the same place in Mogeltonder, the one picture that gets ripped off my website the most, is the one of the very rare and expensive Bugatti car, the newly wed couple drove off from church in. It appears on several blogs with cars, and of course not because it’s a royal wedding, but because it’s a rare car. Different audiences!
The practical matter of the day is that all press must pick up their approved press cards in a press tent near the royal castle and then meet up for security sweep at 2 PM where bomb dogs check all the gear and the police does the last check of us before we’re let into the church area.
I had planned to visit the nifty local coffee bar in a 1850-building and have some of their local homemade cake, but after the security-sweep we weren’t allowed out again before after the baptism was done at 6:30 PM. So there we were with out marked spots (some had been there yesterday and placed ladders or tape to mark their spot). So what does one do then?
Life in pool 4: The royal reporter of one of the royal weeklies gives her account of what the situation is right this second to one of the national television stations sending live.
Normally photographers will test equipment, do test shots and so on in the minutes prior to an even. But you can’t do that for three hours, so we talk equipment, try to foresee who will be arriving in cars and who will be walking to the church, talk about other events we covered in the past, and then there’s a great deal of mobile conversations with editors back at the newspapers, trying to coordinate deadlines.
The television stations are a different story. For the wedding there were 200 television cameras placed all over town to cover it live. For this there are less. But as they send live on two national television stations, the television reports in the pool has to give live transmissions from time to time, about what happens (not) by the church right now, how’s the weather, has the priest arrived, what year was the church built and stuff like that (which make me happy not to have owned a television for the last six years).
I take note that one of the television hosts has terrible ugly legs – which doesn’t matter, as the viewers will never get to see anything else than her upper body.
Though friendly colleagues, each space is marked and watched.
Half an hour before the actual event is to start, panic sets in and people start to check gear and wait at their marked spaces. That’s just how it is, though the Danish Royal Family is always on schedule within a +/- 10 seconds range. And the program says that the Queen will arrive at 5.27 PM and the little prince to be baptized will arrive at 5.29 PM with his parents, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie. But as soon as one start to prepare, others do the same, and suddenly all does, as if somebody knew something the rest didn’t.
The guests arrive in decreasing rank, private friends first, then counts, then royals as the last ones. So for us only shooting international known royals, the actual event is 10-15 minutes.
Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik has just arrived and prepare to enter the red carpet. They will do so with each one of them holding hand with the sons of Prince Joachim.
It’s a theme in itself how you as a semi-celebrity or newly added girlfriend to a royal does the 100 feet red carpet in front of 18 still cameras and 4 television cameras. That’s something you should consider and rehearse. Should you hold hands, how fast or slow do you walk, where do you look, can you smile for that long, what if it rains, what if the wind causes your silk dress to reveal every single detail?
Now, this is walking the red carpet in style. The Countess Flemming to the left is also known for her own docusoap "The Countess on the Castle" and signed authographs later in the town's main street, gave interviews, photos and so on.
The Danish designer of silk scarf’s Charlotte Sparre does the press the favor of doing live-interviews, and gets free advertising on life televison as well, while her husband waits in the background. Few do it that professional.
Short visit: The French family to princess Marie walks quick and unorganized up the red carpet, making a photo impossible, upon which the only sound bite the father of the princess allows is “I have no comments today.” All in all a performance that will go over in history as "Very French" and cause the sale of French cars to drop 10% the next year in Denmark…
There are those who “work the red carpet” and then there are those who would prefer to use the back entrance. It’s very revealing from my position but also very understandable. For example I didn’t consider the live television cameras, but if you’re a Danish crown prince, you have to. From the moment you enter the church area you are being followed the next 600 feet to the main entrance. So you have to walk in a cool way, talk political correct to your children, look royal worthy and many other things in one time …
Still 450 feet to go with live television and still photographers watching…
As soon as the church door closes after the guests, all photographers turn around to their laptops with wireless modems and starts emptying cameras, editing photos and sending them. Many are on the mobile phone with editors as the event is very late for newspaper deadlines.
||By the way, this is how the original photo looks of the one in the top of the page. Made with a Leica R9/DMR and 35-70/2.8
Time goes quickly, and all has to interrupt work after 45 minutes as the baptism is over and the royals and guests will come out in a short while. Now everybody has forgotten about carefully marked spots as everybody is in the corner of the pool opposite the church’s main entrance.
A couple of security people and staffs of the Royal Family get their portraits taken a few hundreds times as they get out the door. Everybody is ready to shoot any minor movement as Princess Marie, Prince Joachim and the newly baptized prince will be the very first to come out the door.
The picture on top is from just before they come out the door, while Princess Marie waits for Prince Joachim to join her.
They come out and everybody shoots. As the royal couple starts walking down the red carpet, all photographers jump down from ladders and follow them from inside the pool. As always there’s a certain balance between the fact that royals decide for them self if they want to look at the cameras, and then the option of making them aware in a noble way that you would like them to look this way. But today they line up several times and smiles directly to the cameras, till they disappear into Prince Joachims black Maserati.
Then the crowd runs back to the corner of the pool opposite the main entrance of the church, awaiting the Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik to come out next. The same parallel red carpet/inside the pool walk to the end of the red carpet, then back to capture the crown princes family comes out. The son, Prince Christian, comes out as the very first, playing with a paper flier, and you can almost hear the photographers thanking speeches for this photo opportunity.
Mary is the most popular royal and is as always met with an extreme amount of photos taken. Then the interest decreases and short after the odd situation develops that the photographers has turned their back to the guests who are now waiting in line on the red carpet to get out.
Royal event meets working space. The photographers who was very keen to get photos when the guests arived, are busy sending the photo of the newly baptized prince and pay no real attention to the non-royal guests waiting for the royals to leave with security. Only the live television cameras are on. It's almost a moment of treason if you really believed the press had a true genuine interest in your person ...
In a matter of minutes the church area is empty and we can leave the pool area and walk or run to the press tent by the castle where there’s wireless internet and staff from the Royal Family to help with guest names and other details. It’s a real down-to-earth problem as no photographers know all faces and names, and at this stage all photos are being finalized with captions, names, etc.
Questions such as “what’s the names of Prince Joachim’s sons?” and “What was the name of the baptized prince?” is heard throughout the tent. Because each picture has to be captioned correctly, persons names added, date and place, the event and any relevant keywords. All so that any person not familiar with the people on the photos, at a later time can find the pictures in the huge databases, based on keywords, and trust that the person in the picture is in fact that person.
A picture of a Greek prince could be of no importance, till the moment he announces engagement with the then girlfriend. That’s why her name is important in the file too.
After having been “captured” inside a church yard for half a day I allowed myself the luxury of a good hot meal at the local restaurant next to the church. A lot of the locals were there but all left shortly prior to 9 PM.
“They have opened the church now, Gustav,” one said, and then Gustav and the rest left the restaurant to visit the church that had been opened for the public to see the special flower arrangements. So I went too, and though it’s not breaking news, it’s a solo story as only the locals were there, along with some television staff packing down light equipment.
On Monday I could notice that I had sold 3-4 pictures of the flowers. And who knows, in a few years an editor of some Dutch flower magazine might search for flowers and my pictures may appear in a magazine about flower decorations.
And in a way that might be just as good a picture as Prince Christian playing with a paper flier…
- Thorsten Overgaard