It’s not often that a photographer is offered a photo shoot of the Queen of England, as Chris Levine was in 2004 at the tender age of 34. But officials at the Jersey Heritage Trust had seen his exhibition of holograms and lightworks, called Hypervisual 1.2, and were impressed.
A photo session was scheduled, and then later, another one added to further develop the work. The Queen was quite interested in the shoot, not only because it was the first time a holographic portrait was made of her, but also, because she’s quite interested in the whole subject of photography.
Levine hired the technical team of Jeff Robb, John Perry and Rob Munday, who built a 3-D stereographic camera for the occasion. The digital camera was designed to move rapidly along a belt-driven track to capture the subject from many different angles. The transit along the track took only eight seconds, but produced 200 images. Only by assembling those images taken from those precise angles was Levine able to produce a holographic image.
Levine was delighted to find that he had complete control over every aspect of the shoots. He even took the liberty of styling the Queen, choosing her clothing and jewelry. He went through the crown jewels and was most impressed by the Diamond Diadem, which was created for her father King George IV, and worn by Her Majesty for the procession to her Coronation in 1953. That’s the piece you see in this photo.
During any shoot, Levine feels it’s important to establish a “soulful connection to the subject,” as he puts it. In a still, meditative state, the truth that lies within the subject can be seen. Levine found the queen to be an extraordinary and radiant model, and there’s obviously a truth reflected in the eight seconds in which he captured her.
The photo shoot was an extraordinary opportunity for Levine. Only a few of the most talented photographers have the honor of seeing their works displayed in a museum or gallery, but it’s a lucky few indeed whose images are used on currency and stamps, in Levine’s case, the Jersey £100 note and stamps to be announced. These are historical documents that are certain to be around for centuries, perhaps millennia, after the artist is gone. Looking back on it, Levine says, the whole experience seems like a dream.