Royal Photographer Shares 'Snap Judgments' from Working with Harry, William, the Queen and More

From touring with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to capturing Prince William leaving home with Prince George on his first school day, Chris Jackson viewed royal life close-up for nearly two decades

The Duke & Duchess Of Cambridge And Prince Harry
Prince Harry, Kate Middleton and Prince William. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty

Over nearly two decades, there are few places in the world that the royals have been where photographer Chris Jackson hasn't trailed closely behind, capturing their every public move.

Whether touring Australia with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, taking an official portrait of Queen Elizabeth or joining Prince William as he took Prince George to his first day of school, Jackson's job for Getty Images has given him a privileged, close-up view of history.

"The thing I love about royal photography is the depth with which you get to know your subjects," Jackson tells PEOPLE. "Celebrity photography is one thing — you are photographing a much bigger roster. With royals you have the opportunity to build up an in-depth knowledge of their personalities."

Chris Jackson and Prince Harry
Courtesy Getty Images

As he has traveled the world, Jackson has come to appreciate the different approaches that the members of the royal family use in their day-to-day duties and has learned how to get the best out of them for his pictures. Here, he shared some of those insights exclusively with PEOPLE.

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Jackson has forged a close working bond with Prince Harry over the years, capturing him as he has toured Southern Africa for his Sentebale charity and up close during his groundbreaking Invictus Games, among others.

Prince Harry Launches The Invictus Games
Prince Harry at an Invictus Games event. Chris Jackson/Getty

"Harry has a real energy to his engagements," says Jackson, who is looking forward to photographing the upcoming Invictus Games in the Netherlands next spring.

Jackson adds that Harry brings "an element of unpredictability which has always been special. One example of that was when he joined in a charity run in Rio de Janeiro and he ended up finishing the race with a face mask on. You literally couldn't have predicted that."


The Queen And The Prince of Wales
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

"The Prince of Wales is very interactive with people and expressive," Jackson tells PEOPLE. "The Queen moves about engagements in a different way to the Prince of Wales."

From his perspective, "It is about anticipating about what is going to happen — that's a really key part of the job. Looking at where the light is going to fall, and looking at where they are going to be and who they are going to meet."


Prince George
Prince George. Chris Jackson/Getty

Jackson — who has a 2-year-old son, Theo, with wife Natasha Archer (Kate Middleton's assistant and stylist) — says photographing the royal children "always makes you smile behind the camera, and I love that."

Assignments involving the youngest royals "is a different, exciting kettle of fish," he shares, because "there is a real energy to the engagement, which is great fun."

What's more, "It is a less regular event, but equally that's what makes it so special."


Camilla Duchess of Cornwall
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty

For someone who has borne the brunt of some harsh headlines over the years, especially in the wake of the 1997 death of Princess Diana, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall should have reason to be very wary of photographers. But Jackson, like others, finds her "absolutely awesome to photograph."

He adds, "You can find yourself in some far-flung corner of the world and something amusing happens and you in the room with them and you get a smile. Taking a picture is the most honest thing you can do — it is a record of exactly what happened at that second. She understands that, and understands that you are doing a job."

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Elizabeth II A Queen For Our Time By Chris Jackson
Rizzoli International Publications

Jackson, 41, talks about his typical Day in the Life of working around the famous faces in the Fall issue of PEOPLE Royals, out September 10. His second book, Elizabeth II, A Queen for Our Time, is out this month ahead of the monarchy's Platinum Jubilee next June.

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