Behind the Lens: Photography Fit for Royalty by Richard Emmanuel

Canadian wedding photographer Richard Emmanuel talks about his experience with royalty.

He is no stranger to royal gatherings, historic palaces, NATO summits and encounters with presidents and princesses. His presence is not only welcomed by the world’s most powerful elite, but actively sought-after. He is Richard Emmanuel—an artist, a story-teller, and one of Canada’s most renowned, coveted photographers.

Camera in hand, he encapsulates history for generations to come. With his 20 years of experience, Richard is no stranger to shooting the lifestyles of the rich and the famous, and the pressure that comes along with it. The Canadian photographic phenomenon has captured the rolling hills of Edinburgh, the decision-making moments of influential statesmen, the high vaulted ceilings of Holyrood Palace and the jewel-encrusted crowns of royalty. His experience spans many years, borders, and cultures.

Across the pond in Edinburgh, Richard was commissioned for a royal ceremony honouring Princess Anne at the Holyrood Palace. “I recall clearly when there was an announcement made that nobody was allowed to take any photos except for one official Canadian photographer,” Richard reveals. Surrounded by her majesty’s secret service, heads of states, ambassadors, and high ranking military officers, Richard was given the honour of being the sole photographer of the entire event. And so, while limos swarmed the grounds, regal attendees in tuxedos and ball gowns mingled, the elite guests asked Richard to photograph them with the princess.

The incident proved how important it was to be extra cautious and not make sudden movements when in such close proximity to royalty. But among all the hustle and bustle, the grandiose entrances and heavy security, Richard was able to make the regal shoot a royal success.

East of Edinburgh at a NATO summit in Istanbul, Richard completed another prestigious shoot. France’s former president, Jacques Chirac, personally asked Richard to photograph him. Again surrounded by the armed secret service and in the presence of one of the most powerful people in the world, Richard was his usual calm, poised and professional self. With his camera in hand, he completed the impromptu shoot, a resounding triumph that garnered a “thank you” from the president himself.

But despite these worldly travels and legendary sessions, Richard’s expertise and enthusiasm lies with everyday couples, his most sought-after clients. While presidents and princesses in foreign lands are a pleasant experience, the Canadian landscape is home to Richard, and bridal couples are his passion.

In fact, his wedding photography is as enchanting as his royal spreads. The sheer artistry and originality encapsulated in every one of his pictures is breathtaking. From inventive shots of statuesque Canadian couples locked in each other’s arms, to beaming newlyweds dashing out of church, Richard is able to capture the essence of his clients.

As Princess Anne circulated amongst guests, Richard and his camera were poised for action. The guests were broken into groups of 10-12, so the princess could approach each and every group throughout the night for introductions. “During this fast moving experience, I had to be moving at the same pace as the princess and capture each moment as guests addressed and chatted with her,” Richard says.

As the night progressed, it got even more exciting. Richard reveals, “I remember at one particular point I could see someone was about to walk in front of my camera as I was taking the photos. So with an immediate reflex, I stretched out my hand to create a barrier so this individual would not walk in front of my camera.” The quick extension of his arm alerted the secret service, who immediately surrounded him. 


Whether Richard’s lens is aimed at royalty celebrating an event in the United Kingdom, a princess-bride getting married in Toronto, or a Caribbean queen on an island destination wedding, he treats them all like real royalty. “It doesn’t matter who I am photographing,” Richard admits, “the person on the other side of my lens is the most important person in the world.” And so, Canadian couples can enjoy shoots with comfort, regal treatment, and flawless restults usually reserved for the rich and famous. With the flash of his camera, Richard delivers the royal treatment.