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RIP: Photographer Lord Snowdon Dies at 86

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The prominent English photographer Lord Snowdon has died. Snowdon became one of the best known photographers in the UK through his documentary photos of royalty, celebrity, and society in England. He was 86.

Born Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, Armstrong-Jones studied architecture at Cambridge, failed to receive his diploma, and then jumped into the fashion photography industry. After being commissioned to take personal family photos for the royal family and being invited to shoot portraits at Buckingham Palace, Armstrong-Jones married Princess Margaret in 1960.

Princess Margaret was the sister of Queen Elizabeth II and the daughter of King George VI, and her marriage to Armstrong-Jones was notable because it was extremely uncommon for such a prominent member of the royal family to marry outside of royalty or nobility.

Through this first marriage, Armstrong-Jones took on the title of the 1st Earl of Snowdon (named after his favorite mountain, the highest in Wales). From that point on, Armstrong-Jones was best known professionally as Lord Snowdon.

Over the next five decades, Snowdon became one of the UK’s most respected photographers, shooting various genres and segments of society, from celebrities and royalty to documenting mental illness and inner city life. His images were widely used by the world’s best-known publications and were also published in 14 photo books.

“I think a photographer should be a chameleon, or a fly on the wall,” The Guardian quotes Snowdon as saying. “I want to be invisible when I’m wandering about. That’s why my camera is very small. The photographer himself is unimportant.”

Snowdon was also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in the UK, one of the world’s oldest photographic societies. The RPS awarded Snowdon the Hood Medal of the Society in 1978 and the Progress Medal in 1985. You can view a selection of Snowdon’s portraits at the National Portrait Gallery.

Lord Snowdon reportedly died peacefully in his Kensington home on Friday, January 13th, 2017.


Image credits: Header portrait by Eric Koch and courtesy the Dutch National Archives

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