Assignment 4 – Initial Research

For my initial research into my chosen photograph for this contextual essay, I looked into media articles that were published at the time that the photograph was released.

An article in the Telegraph newspaper tells the reader each of the children’s names, as though to clarify what we already know. Many of the articles that I read focused on Mia Tindall holding the Queen’s handbag, giving an endearing view of the child. This article also states “The pose has deliberate echoes of portraits of Queen Victoria, whose record reign the Queen surpassed last year, and who was often photographed surrounded by royal children, with the youngest in her arms” (Rayner, 2016). I will further my research into this later.

The article that coincided with the photograph in Vanity Fair Summer 2016 Issue by Laura Jacobs, explores the history of the royals being “iconic from a distance, visible and symbolic in their dress, and above all in control of an idealized image” (Jacobs, 2016). She also explains that Queen Victoria was painted by artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Queen Elizabeth II was originally photographed by Cecil Beaton, incorporating her children when they were young all the while keeping the photography simple yet personal.


Annie Leibovitz was the chosen photographer for this series of photographs. She had previously photographed the Queen for her Jubilee images. Leibovitz, is a well-known “celebrity” photographer, and skilled in persuading these famous names to adopt surprising poses, and make her sitters feel very comfortable. In another article from the Telegraph newspaper, Leibovitz states she “spent months researching settings and clothing, and how previous portraits have been lit and posed. I told the Queen how much I admired Cecil Beaton, and that I was modelling the picture after his, and she said: ‘You must make your own way, dear.'” (Leibovitz to Davies, 2016).
In the Vanity Fair published issue, Leibovitz says “the most moving, important thing about the shoot is that these were all her ideas. She wanted to be photographed with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I was told how relaxed she was at Windsor, You get the sense of how at peace she was with herself, and very much enthralled with her family.” (Leibovitz, 2016)




Rayner, G. (2016) The queen’s birthday: Her majesty shares the spotlight with great-grandchildren in official portrait to mark her 90th birthday. Available at:
Jacobs, L. (2016) ‘A study in character ’, Vanity Fair (May), pp. 92–93.
Davies, L. (2016) Annie Leibovitz interview: ‘The queen gave me career advice’. Available at:
Leibovitz, A. (2016) Vanity Fair (May), p. 28.

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