Life Through A Royal Lens

Historic Royal Palaces

Charting the relationship between monarchy and photography

Exhibition Design, Graphic Design

Nissen Richards Studio has once again worked with client Historic Royal Palaces – this time on a new, temporary exhibition at London’s Kensington Palace. Life Through a Royal Lens explores the Royal Family through photography and brings together in one place some of the most iconic images of the Royal Family ever taken.

The exhibition brings together more than 100 photographs charting the relationship between the monarchy and photography from the technology’s fledgling beginnings in the 1840s up to the present day. It explores the ways in which the British monarchy has used the medium to shape its public image and how Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s enthusiastic patronage of photography in its infancy helped this new invention receive greater scientific and public attention.

The photography ranges from commissions by some of the greatest names in portrait photography, from Cecil Beaton and Lord Snowdon to Annie Liebowitz and Rankin, alongside images taken by Royal Family members themselves and snaps taken by and for worldwide contemporary media.

The design concept was built around ideas of framing, layering and transparency, with solid frameworks representing formality and backlit, semi-transparent gauze layers representing informality, whilst also demonstrating how you are always seeing layers of information. The exhibition’s materiality contrasts sharp and hard lines with softer lines and textures to express this tension, whilst at the same time the exhibition also runs thematically from formality to informality. Staging, the use of scale and the cleverly-adjudged use of light are key elements of the design treatment, underlining the fact that the photographs on show are themselves choreographed.


Historic Royal Palaces


Kensington Palace, London


Exhibition and Graphic Design


Lighting Designer: DHA Designs

Photography: Gareth Gardner