Documentary Explores How Photographers Captured Queen’s Portrait

A new documentary explores how different photographers captured the late Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait.

Portrait of The Queen attempts to give a unique look into Queen Elizabeth II by speaking to photographers who shot her image over her lifetime.

As the longest-reigning monarch in Britain, Queen Elizabeth II was one of the most talked about figures in history — yet she largely remains an enigma.

It was her photographers who created, shaped, and curated the queen’s public image throughout her 70-year reign. And it is through these photographs that Queen Elizabeth’s legacy and persona will be remembered.

Portrait of The Queen goes behind the lenses of these photographers to shed light on the largely inscrutable monarch and portray her from a new perspective.

The documentary delves into Queen Elizabeth II’s life through photographic portraits and in-depth interviews with the photographers who shot her most iconic images including Brian Aris, Jason Bell, Julian Calder, Chris Levine, David Montgomery, and John Swannell.

It interweaves the story of the Queen’s life with those of the photographers who accompanied — and often created — the image of the British monarchy itself.

In the documentary, photographers share memories of their private moments with the Queen as they shot her portrait — and the brief moments when she let her guarded persona down and revealed her vulnerability.

A Photo That Revealed The Queen’s ‘Inner Truth’

In a recent interview with The Messenger, photographer Chris Levine revealed how he created the unusual, hologram portrait of a meditative Queen Elizabeth with her eyes closed.

Levine attempted to create “a sense of calm” for the Queen’s photoshoot with him. The photographer blacked out the portrait space and burned incense ahead of her arrival.

Levine tells The Messenger that he wanted to create a portrait of the Queen “that would reveal her inner truth.” In his efforts to keep the monarch at ease, the photographer said he kept an eye on her breathing cycle as he took photos.

Between shots, the photographer allowed the Queen to rest and she closed her eyes, which ended up making for one of his most memorable shots.

Portrait of the Queen, which is directed by Fabrizio Ferri and narrated by Charles Dance, is available to watch digitally now.