Q: How would you describe this assignment?
A: It was the highlight of my life. Definitely the best thing I’ve ever photographed. There was so much pressure to get this shot.
Q: How did you wind up in front of Buckingham Palace?
A: At the time I applied, there were ten positions to choose from. You couldn’t be everywhere. You had to pick one spot. You could be at Buckingham Palace, the church, the Mall—all these designated areas. My first choice was obviously…well for me, it was always about the kiss.
Q: So where did they put you?
A: Where we were standing, the balcony was about 400 feet away. Which is quite far. Even with the longest lens, they’re still going to be small in the frame. It was very difficult on a technical note…. When I first got to the riser, they had my position marked. All I had was a card with a number on it. I didn’t know where I’d be standing. It was a crapshoot. If you were on the left side, you wouldn’t get a clear shot. The gate would be in your way. So they had a lottery process. And I got lucky! I got, well Maclean’s magazine got, the best position. They put me dab in the middle. I wasn’t even a yard over. I had a huge advantage over everyone.
Q: Why was the kiss an important moment for you?
A: I just think it sums it up. When you look back at Diana and Charles—I studied all those photos—it’s just so iconic. There were a million people below me screaming ‘Kiss, kiss, kiss’. That photo—it’s about history. It’s a photo I’ll be able to pass down to my grandchildren. After they kissed, there was this moment when all the photographers shook hands. We all looked at each other and we knew we got it.
Q: Why did they kiss for a second time?
A: I don’t think the fans were satisfied with the kiss. It was very staged. I could see in my lens when I was shooting, I think I saw his lips say “Are you ready?”. So they knew they were going to do it. It was romantic and graceful. But it happened way too early. It’s like they got it out of the way. Then the fans waited a couple of minutes and started chanting again. There was definitely more feeling on the second kiss.
Q: Did the little girl [Grace Van Cutsem] covering her ears ruin your perfect shot?
A: Not at all, she added to it. There’s always something funny in these moments. It made it a quirky shot. It was just so cute. When the kiss happened, the crowd roared and she put her hands over her ears like she was startled.
Q: What was your most memorable moment from the whole assignment?
A: That would be the first time I saw Kate Middleton, which was the night before. I got word that she was going to the Goring Hotel to check in, which is literally a minute away from my hotel. So my wife and I went for a walk and we saw all the photographers in front of the hotel, and we decided to stay. When Kate got out of the car, she was just stunning. I’m so used to celebrities and their big entourages, their attitudes—the Lady Gagas and the Angelinas. But she got out of the car with just her mom and sister. She smiled, she waved—she embraced her fans and embraced the media. I thought that was so classy. It was just such a nice, simple and pleasant moment. She looked like she was really enjoying this. The most famous woman of that week just acted like a real person. I realized that this was the last time she’d be photographed like this, on her own and single. Maybe this time next year you won’t be able to get anywhere near her. So that was a highlight.
[transcript has been edited for length]