Paptastic

Poor Princess Mary. And I mean that sincerely. For a good couple of hours she was hounded by men with cameras (including me, I should admit) and they just would not leave her alone.

It was a couple of Saturdays ago here in Copenhagen and the weather was hot hot hot. A children’s anti-bullying relay race was being held in the Østerbro area of town and Mary was on hand to give a little speech and hand out some medals at the end.

Photography by Matthew James, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, kron princessa mary, danmark, sport, fri for mobberi, sparta,

Photographers train their cameras towards Crown Princess Mary of Denmark as she watches the start of the race

In anticipation of the other toggies, I’d been given a high-vis vest that read Official Photographer on the back, and in theory it meant that I had better access to the Crown Princess. Obviously it never works like that, but that’s a story for another day.

Unfortunately for me, I found myself standing in the crowd when she first graced the stage, so I skipped towards the barrier with the intention of hopping over to climb the stairs to the stage. A bald press photographer had other ideas, however; firmly rooted to the very spot that I needed to get to and showing no sign of moving to let me past. Carefully I handed my cameras over to a young girl and proceeded to climb over the man’s head, only for a metal handrail that I was holding on to to give way and send me falling in the direction I was already heading. This got the man’s attention, especially when the metal bars hit him in the head and my right foot smashed in to the side of his face. Behind us, dozens of other cameras were snapping and rolling away, so no doubt someone got a good shot of the incident.

I apologised immediately, but the man only responded by making a fake hurting noise reminiscent of a child. I tried apologising again later when I got the chance, but he wouldn’t even look me in the eye and just ignored me. He was clearly pissed off.

Over the next hour or so, I watched as he and all the other photographers followed Mary around like lost lambs, without showing a spot of interest in anything or anyone else. i.e. the race itself. Unphased, Mary stood patiently handing out medals and greeting the kids, whilst flashes continued to fire and the cameras continued to roll. Was the first five minutes not enough for them, or were they just waiting for something unique and exciting to happen? Like a fall, or an attack, for example.

Photography by Matthew James, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, kron princessa mary, danmark, sport, fri for mobberi, sparta,

Mary hands out medals to the participants of the anti-bullying relay race

I’ve been in that position before, of course. When Miley Cyrus came to Derby a few years back, the throng of photographers concentrated in the breakfast isle of Asda was insane. As the last to arrive on the scene, I was forced to find a place behind dozens of other photographers who had all brought their own ladders and boxes to stand on. I had to climb the cereal shelf and watch as thousands of cheerios spilt to the ground below. It was a stark contrast to an hour before, where I had enjoyed a private and uninterrupted photoshoot with her at a local school.

Miley Cyrus, Derby Telegraph, Matthew James Harrison, Photography by Matthew James

© Northcliffe Media

Miley Cyrus, Derby Telegraph, Matthew James Harrison, Photography by Matthew James

© Northcliffe Media


For these reasons I’m pleased I made the decision to move towards sport, travel and corporate photography. I get to photograph an interesting mixture of genres and people (including princesses) and there’s nothing negative about any of it. Nobody gets stalked, nobody gets hurt and I end up with a portfolio of images that please me, and hopefully you, because they are genuinely great pictures.

And Mary, if you’re reading this, I have an exhibition coming up that focuses on foreigners living in Denmark. You up for a photo? Call me!

Comments are closed.