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Lichfield: The shutter falls silent

The Royal photographer was more famous than most of his subjects

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by LamontPaul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: November, 2005
Lichfield out at 66

It's not often we get a chance to write about the royals here at outsideleft. So, with the untimely yet accommodating demise of the Queen's cousin, portrait photographer Patrick 'Lord' Lichfield, we're taking our chance.

Patrick Lichfield - the 5th Earl of Lichfield - was the Queen's first cousin once removed. He came to prominence in the 60s and epitomizes the glamour and decay of that decade. Having a hand in blurring forever societal strictures.

He's one of the handful of photographers who remain more famous than most of their subjects would ever be. That he was blue blood made all the difference to the perception of the depiction of a nude Marsha Hunt for the musical Hair. At the time when the empire was still gasping for breath, and radical tolerance was taking hold, Lichfield captured a beloved 60s - the one most of us who weren't there are likely to want to remember. From our vantage point some 40 increasingly tolerant years later, that Lichfield-Hunt combination seems calculatedly, and deliciously exploitational. Of us.

Colin Farrell, Jerry Hall, Michael Caine and Joanna Lumley, Princess Di and of course all of the assorted royals. Lichfield has done them all. Most famously, I suppose, he did DI's wedding to Charles. David Bailey and he starred in a memorably hammy series of tv commercials, LIchfield really was way better behind the camera.

At 66 he'd had a pretty good innings for someone who'd first discovered his nous for photography snapping rapidly confiscated images of the queen of England at a cricket match. Finally caught out by a stroke. Oh well then, another end of an era.

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