Here’s my small tribute to former First Lady Nancy Reagan: Mrs. Reagan was escorting Queen Elizabeth II up the Red Carpet into a banquet at 20th Century Fox Studios, Los Angeles. This photograph was taken 33 years ago, almost to the day, during Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip’s 1983 visit to the west coast of the U.S.
As you can imagine the scene was chaotic as most of these events tend to be. Several Secret Service agents were in between photographers and the two ladies (one is kneeling across the red carpet, near Mrs. Reagan). It’s fun to see the thin white rope barrier in place (running across the center of the image). Today there would probably be one of those steel barricades in place. Lots of pushing and shoving (usually unintentional – as we each want to take a great photograph – and it’s natural to only think of oneself in those moments) among photographers and tv cameramen as the two walked past.
I was covering the tour for People Magazine and from 5 incredibly long long days of shooting, this is the only photograph the magazine published. Seems it fit their “celebrity” category more than any of the other photographs fit into the news section. In addition, the magazine was competing with the national news magazines; Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and wouldn’t be published until days after the others were already on the newsstand. A fresh unique photograph was needed.
Notice that the Queen’s eyes are closed – a natural reaction all of have when a flash or other bright light goes off in front of us. This small element gave the image a little spark of extra interest which the magazine editors loved. It represented the hoopla and large number of photographers covering that evenings event.