Royal Snap

I’ve strong republican sympathies, don’t have a great regard for the photographic sensibilities of the London National Portrait Gallery and am not a particular fan of Thomas Struth (though I found some of his early work of interest) so it perhaps isn’t surprising that I don’t greatly appreciate the recently released image of two elderly royals perched on a settee in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.  Struth has in recent years seemed to concentrate rather on producing rather boring images of rather boring people, and this one runs true to form.  Both of the sitters look pretty fed up with the whole thing, just waiting to get the photographer out of the way so they can change into something more comfortable and watch the gee-gees on the telly.

And although I don’t have a great pedigree as a commentator on fashion, isn’t it about time Philip saw his tailor, as he seems to have grown a few inches since those trousers were cut?

But it is actually cutting, or rather cropping that made me mention the picture at all. I’ve not seen the original, only the reproductions on two national media web sites. In the Independent, where you also can read one of the silliest commentaries on a photograph I’ve come across for ages, all highlight detail is missing from the image, which reproduces the fireplace at the left edge rather nicely and makes everything else look blown out and less than sharp.

In contrast Sky News decides to crop the picture drastically and fairly closely around the two seated figures, changing the format as if they can’t think of pictures except as 16:9.  What was a picture of a rather grand room with two old people in it becomes just a picture of two sad old people, losing the whole point (such as it is) of Struth’s image.  And although they’ve kept the highlights, they’ve added a blue or cyan colour cast.

I don’t think it is likely to be one of my favourite images, but it – and photography – deserves a better press than this.

Thanks to Jeff Moore who posted in The Picture Editor on Facebook bringing my attention to the image in The Independent.

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