How photographer Anwar Hussein’s images helped make Princess Diana an icon

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Princess Diana of Wales is riding a pop culture resurgence. Fans are eagerly awaiting the fifth and sixth seasons of the popular Netflix series “The Crown” – which will tackle the late royal regime – while Kristen Stewart takes a turn as Diana in the biopic “Spencer”, And “Diana, the Musical” opened last month at New York’s Longacre Theater. On the heels of these presentations comes the immersive photo-focused show “Princess Diana: Accredited Access Exhibition” At Santa Monica Place which has been going on since March.

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The man behind the lens of the visual exhibition is Anwar Hussain. For six decades and counting, the photographer and Tanzania native, who is in her 80s, has captured some of the world’s most memorable images of the British royal family, along with Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, and their offspring Princess Diana is depicted. Her photographs of Diana, in particular, disrupted the public’s view of the royal family with a relaxed, relaxed attitude and have been translated into postage stamps and royal holiday cards.

Royal photographer Anwar Hussain, centre, with photographer sons Samir Hussain, left, and Zak Hussain, London, September 16, 2020.
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Following a similar path, Hussein’s sons – Zak, 41, and Samir, 43 – are also official royal photographers, making a name for themselves with famous snaps of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and their children, as That as well as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, before the couple parted ways from royal life.


Before Diana’s untimely death in 1997 at age 36, Anwar would have taken “potentially a million photos” of her, his son Zak told The Times. “All stored, in transparency, filed in cabinets,” he says.

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So it was no small task to get down to the 142 images that make up the exhibition. The imagery – a compilation of work by Anwar and his sons – is a mix of hero shots, published globally, and newly unveiled archival photographs. The eight volumes dive into the various aspects of Diana’s life, from family to fashion. As Diana moves from teaching to becoming a princess, and eventually from a star to an icon, the evocative imagery documents her hands-on compassion for others as well as her separation within the royal family and her own marriage. .

Princess Diana, Princess of Wales on her way to the State Opening of Parliament with Princess Anne in London in 1981.
LONDON – NOVEMBER 04 1981: Princess Diana of Wales on her way to the State Opening of Parliament with Princess Anne on November 04, 1981 in London, England. She is traveling in the glass coach used for her wedding.
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The exhibition, billed as “the world’s first, walk-through documentary experience,” says curator Cliff Skeletor, “intends to take people back in time, making them feel like they’re just entering the story line.” have done.” That immersive idea is transformed into magnified photographs shot by the trio, Nikon cameras that used to photograph Hussein Diana, intricate paper riffs on royal headwear by Canadian artist Pauline Loutin, and an in-depth audio guide that explains the story behind each image. Reveals untold stories.

These personal stories – stemming from the trusting relationship between Anwar Hussein and Princess Diana – shed a new light on one of the most photographed women in the world. “Anwar felt that now was the right time in his life to share these stories,” Zak explains. “They extend to a new generation of people who first discovered Diana, while the older generation is still fascinated by her.”

On the evening of the press preview, Anwar sat on a picnic bench by the Shore Hotel pool in Santa Monica to speak with The Times.,

Princess Diana with the Princess of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry on vacation in Majorca, Spain on August 10, 1987.
Princess Diana with the Princess of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry on vacation in Majorca, Spain on August 10, 1987.
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Have you ever thought that your work would reach so many people?

No! I come from a very small village in Africa, from a very poor family. We went to school without shoes. At that time, I saw only one picture of the queen, which was on a stamp. I didn’t even know what the royal family looked like. Fifty years later, I count four or five of my photographs that he used on stamps. It’s unbelievable to think. Not only that, I have six pictures in the Royal Collection [historically significant works of art],

So it’s a wonderful contrast. When you grow up, you think, ‘How did I get to where I am?’ Looking back on my life, I am absolutely shocked. flustered. When I came to England, in the 60s, it was very difficult to be a colored person and get any kind of job. Things were difficult. I survived!

Your style of capturing people in film naturally is an art. Is timing part of it?

If you are connected with nature then nature tells you to wait till something happens. In fact it is the same with humans. Besides royal pictures, I’ve also done show business pictures with people like Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. But I have never been overwhelmed by whether I met President Reagan or the Queen or Muhammad Ali or anyone else, because I consider him as a person. Once you join in getting excited about ‘He’s the President’! or ‘She’s the Queen!’ You lose the personal touch. When I went to photograph the royal family, I didn’t like the usual photos – the tiara, all dressed up, looking into the camera. I wanted to make them look and feel like human beings, so that apart from the prince, king, queen, others can relate to them more.

I find it so interesting that you were the first to photograph a royal from behind.

Yes. Everyone said, ‘Why did you do it? What is this picture looking at him from behind?’ And I said, ‘But look what she’s trying to say!’

She turned and looked, ‘Oh, never mind. I will give you a smile.’ It was a few seconds, but that was enough for me, as it brought me a better picture. Let me tell you it was a very inspiring moment. I could miss it. But, as I say, the instinct was sudden.

Diana Princess of Wales in front of Uluru/Ayers Rock near Alice Springs, Australia during the Royal Tour on March 21, 1983.
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Which images in the exhibition resonated most with you personally?

I photographed many times [Diana] Where she struck a clever way of dressing to express her feelings, whether happy or sad. The second time around, she would isolate herself, and I managed to get her to the polo ground. you rarely see [members of the] Royal family alone. They are always surrounded by people. But she would withdraw herself, and I captured it several times. This largely reflects his loneliness and his desire to be alone.

Also, her favorite picture is [mentioned in the exhibition] In a cancer hospital in Pakistan, where she has kept a child. it was incredible. She just kept holding on to him. And although the boy was blind, we can see the connection between them. I think he had a natural instinct, the compassion he gave without even trying. The boy died literally a week later, and she was very upset by this.

Image choices like this one that showed her compassion helped create an icon.

I tried to show all the emotions, whether his head was laughing or crying. Once when someone in Scotland gave her roses, I asked her, ‘Why are you crying? why are you upset Did I do this to the picture?’ And she said, ‘Because Charles never gave me any roses.’

You must miss Diana.

Yes absolutely. Yesterday, I was looking at pictures and I was almost crying. When I look at a picture, it strikes me because I spent as much time with it as I spent with my family. I would pick up my camera and go wherever he went. I photographed Charles before meeting him, then when they were together, on engagements, weddings, honeymoons and in different countries all over the world. He had so much sympathy. She very quickly grew from an innocent, shy Di to a very brave and positive person.

‘Princess Diana: Recognized Reach’

where: Santa Monica Place, within the former location of Bloomingdale’s, 315 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica

When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Ticket: $17-$25 general admission, $25-$37 early admission and VIP admission with souvenir program; Group & Family Bundle Discount


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