During their last week of appearances, hundreds—if not thousands—of photographs were taken of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex before they stepped down from royal life. But one photograph stood out in particular: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Endeavor Awards, under an umbrella as rain poured down around them. They’re looking into each other’s eyes, both flashing megawatt smiles. A camera bulb flashes behind them, illuminating the entire shot. It looked like an image from a movie poster rather than the streets of London, which was entirely emblematic of the innate star power of the couple. Almost immediately the picture picked up significant traction on social media, with many noting how happy the couple looked. Some, factoring in the timing of Harry and Markle’s final official royal duties, even called it iconic.
The man behind the shot was Samir Hussein, an award-winning photographer for Getty Images who has covered the British royal family for more than 12 years. In a statement sent to Vogue, Hussein shared how, exactly, he captured this poignant moment.
When Hussein first arrived at the engagement, he thought it wouldn’t be his night. “It was pouring down with rain, which can be very tricky when shooting flash photography,” he says. “[It] also meant Harry and Meghan would be under an umbrella, which usually means it’s hard to get clean photos of the couple.”
It turns out those were all pros not cons. “Little did I know these elements would come together so spectacularly to produce a timeless image.”
After talking to the Sussexes’ press officer, Hussein says he learned Harry and Markle would be dropped off about 30 feet from the entrance of Mansion House, where the event was being held. He went into the photographer’s pen and positioned himself the best he could.
“As they walked toward me, I noticed a flash going off from a camera in the crowd behind them,” Hussein recalls. “I knew that if that light could be lined up to be right behind as they walked, then it could create a dramatic photo, acting like a backlight in a studio shot. I managed to maneuver myself to line up the flash behind them and then had to work quickly, with just a second or two to get the shot as they smiled wonderfully at each other.”
At that point, he didn’t know if he had gotten anything—with the rain and all the other camera flashes, it could have easily been a bust. But once he downloaded it onto a laptop, he knew he had gotten the shot.
“It’s a one in a million, when all the elements you could wish for as a photographer come together—perfect timing, great lighting, strong symbolism, and amazing subjects,” he says.
Originally published on Vogue.com
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