While you might not care that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (who are about to lose their royal titles) just announced that their second child is on the way, the back story on the photo itself is interesting. That’s because Harry and Meghan’s pregnancy photo was taken by professional photographer Misan Harriman on an iPad while he was in London—5,500 miles away from his subjects in Santa Barbara, California.
Rather than hire a local photographer to do an in-person shoot during the COVID-19 pandemic, the royal couple enlisted the help of their friend Harriman, founder of What We See and known for his work in covering the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. The black-and-white image of Meghan lying under a tree with her head on her husband’s lap as her hand rests on her baby bump includes beautiful lighting, an intimate feel and relaxed posing. In his Instagram and Twitter captions, Harriman included the hashtags “#remoteshoot” and “#shotonipad.”
“With the tree of life behind them and the garden representing fertility, life and moving forward, they didn’t need any direction, because they are, and always have been, waltzing through life together as absolute soulmates,” Harriman said in a recent interview with British Vogue.
The image of the soon-to-be-not-royal couple was not the first time Harriman had been called to present a royal announcement to the world. In 2019, he captured Princess Beatrice of York and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, again in black and white, to accompany the announcement of their engagement. “You can’t be nervous when the subjects are so comfortable,” Harriman told Vogue of the experience. “I call my lens ‘the truth-seeker,’ and that is exactly what was captured: two people who have found their safe harbor in each other.”
Harriman told Us Weekly that the gorgeous light in the image signified “fortitude, hope [and] love” after the couple’s previous miscarriage. “Particularly for the many women going through this, this should give them strength to know there’s light in that dark place,” he explained. “It really means a lot. In the age of COVID, it’s impossible, obviously, for me to be there to shoot it, so technology came to the rescue. I was able to remotely take over the iPad and they could hear my voice, and it was conversational, and the rest really is history.”
Speaking of history, last year, just four years into his photography career after working in finance, the Nigerian-born Harriman became the first Black photographer behind the cover photo of British Vogue in the magazine’s 105-year history when he captured footballer Marcus Rashford and model Adwoa Aboah for the Activism Now: The Faces of Hope issue.
While members of the royal family are typically photographed in more formal poses and settings, this image of Harry and Meghan reminds us of another real and intimate moment between them, when fashion photographer Alexi Lubomirski photographed the couple’s engagement photos in 2018, also outdoors, in images that made them “more accessible and relatable,” according to a piece in Harper’s BAZAAR at the time.