Princess Diana and the Papparazzi

Editorial by Dirck Halstead

When I was selecting the photographs for this, my first website, I was never planning to include a photograph of Princess Diana 

However, in this first week of September, as I was planning the site, I found that my mind was constantly turning to the tragic events that unfolded in that tunnel in Paris. 

I was present for the Royal wedding in London in the spring of 1981 as a photographer for TIME magazine. A few days before the ceremony, Princess Di attended the races at Surrey. The Queen arrived shortly before the race, driving her own station wagon, with a security man sitting in the back seat. Leaving the car, the Queen was greeted by Diana who reached out and gave her a big kiss. 

I could not have imagined on that beautiful spring day in the English countryside that within a few years Diana would be separated from Charles, rejected by the same Queen, and 16 years later would be mourned by the entire world. 

As a human being, I have felt the same sense of loss shared by much of the world. 

As a photographer, a sense of shame and shared guilt are added to this burden. 

I would love to be able to say, "Oh, no, I'm not that kind of photographer who gave chase to her limousine," but thinking back over my career I realize how many times I have done those stakeouts waiting for a celebrity, a criminal, or even the President of The United States, and how many times I have found myself part of that pack. 

Not all those photographers who found themselves in front of the Ritz that night were paparazzi; a few were distinguished photojournalists who had risked their lives in war zones and far away places to tell stories of people caught in events beyond their control. 

For these photographers, they found themselves swept up in an event that wound up with their facing the condemnation of the world. 

So, for me and many of my colleagues, this tragedy has to be the starting point for a soul searching about who we are, and what we represent as human beings as well as photographers. 

I invite you all to share in the discussion that you will find in our Forum on the site. 

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