Documenting a Nation in Mourning

Queen Elizabeth’s passing has received quite a bit of coverage here in the United States. Millions of people turned out not only in London but all over the UK and the globe for various services held in her honor. The coverage has shown the sincere outpouring of respect and affection that the people of her country have for her, but there is a noticeable emphasis on the scale and spectacle of the event.
The Queen was a globally recognized figure so perhaps it is right that the coverage shows how many people were affected by her passing and how much effort her country has put forth to make her final services something worthy of her status.

It should be noted that there is always more than one story to be told for any given event. UK-based photographer James Parsons recently hit the streets to document this moment in time from a different perspective than that of the mainstream media. He spoke with Fstoppers about his take on his nation in mourning. “In my eyes, all of the media coverage was very much focused on the spectacle and pageantry of the ceremony. This is completely understandable but I wanted to focus on the personal experience of people who were affected by the passing of the Queen.”

James’ photographs are personal and intimate and the viewer feels the emotion of the subject. James typically shoots with a Fuji X100v but for this event, he also used a Sony a7 III with GM 100-400mm GM lens. “I wanted to shoot people as they were exiting the lying in state viewing and there was a long distance to where the public can stand and where people exit the viewing. I had to use a long lens for those shots. Even at 400mm, however, I was short sometimes.”

He continues, “My normal choice for strep photography is my Fuji because I find the X100V seems like a toy that people on the street are not threatened by because it is so inconspicuous. This allows me to get much closer to my subject. It is so small and it is always in my hand. As soon as I see an indication that the scene in front of me might be a good photo, I am ready to take it within half a second.”

If you are a photographer frustrated by your lack of access to press credentials, remember that there is always a story to tell if you are interested enough. “All you have to do is have curiosity about other people’s experiences. All of a sudden the world opens up for you to see stories you can tell through your photography. I think that is the magic of photography. It opens my eyes to the number of stories that are out there.” Check the video for insight into James’ creative process.

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John Ricard is a NYC based portrait photographer. You can find more of Ricard’s work on his Instagram. accounts, and

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