In the Instagram era, unflattering photos never seem to disappear. But one group that never seems to have a bad moment is the royal family. Even if you don’t have their budget, royal photographer Hugo Burnand is here to share some tips on how he captured the royals’ perfect wedding images in an interview with Town and Country — including that iconic family portrait which almost didn’t happen — so you can try too.
1. Do a full dress rehearsal dedicated to your photos.
“We did dress rehearsals with stopwatches using endless staff from Buckingham Palace to fill in as family members, so we knew we had just enough time,” Burnand explains. “The flypast was at 1:30 p.m. and we couldn’t over run, even by a minute.”
2. Get the jelly beans on hand.
What do you do when you have lots of hungry and restless children posing for photos they’d probably rather not be in? “I told them all that they would get jelly beans if they were good. Bribery is good — but you can’t give in to bribery if they haven’t done their job,” he said. “By the end of the shoot there were hardly any jelly beans. It wasn’t just the children who were eating them.” Oops.
3. Prep the photo room not one but three days in advance.
“We had three weeks of serious pre-production organization and then three days right before the wedding when we set ourselves up at Buckingham Palace inside the throne room — it became our home,” the photographer explained.
4. Make sure there are women in the camera crew.
“It was important for me to have female influence on my team, otherwise it becomes a bit school-like with lots of men standing there in their morning coats,” Burnand revealed. “It can feel threatening, perhaps not to the older generations but to the younger ones.” He added that his mom, a fellow photographer, was on hand to help.
5. Make sure you’ve prepared for all the potential disasters.
Burnand made sure the shoot was a success by being prepared for, well, literally everything. “If you really do have everything in place — you have practiced a bulb exploding and how quickly you can change it; you’ve practiced the lens freezing, the camera freezing, and how to coax a child away from hiding behind a curtain. Our preparation was so tip-top that all we really wanted was for it to happen, we were like ‘Come on, test us, test us,’ so it wasn’t scary, it was incredibly exciting.”
6. Save the best photo until last.
Wishing TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge a Very Happy 8th Wedding Anniversary! #OTD in 2011, The Royal Wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales and Miss. Catherine Elizabeth Middleton took place at Westminster Abbey in London. pic.twitter.com/LiTcookZKD— Kate ❤ and Meg ? and The British Royal Family (@KateCandMeg) April 29, 2019
Amazingly, everybody’s favorite picture from the big day almost didn’t happen. Burnand adds, “We finished with three minutes to spare so I asked Catherine if we could do the shot we had talked about previously. And she turned to William and said, ‘What do you think?’ And he said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ So in three minutes she sat down on the steps, Sarah Burton put the dress out perfectly. That was a very spontaneous picture,” he added. “That little detail there [points to Kate’s hand touching William’s knee] and William leaning in there, all these things were not directed, but a result of a good relationship with everyone.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Grazia.