When Bryan Adams snapped Queen Elizabeth ‘giggling’

A new exhibition features portraits by the Canadian singer-songwriter.

A detail of Queen Elizabeth's portrait by Bryan Adams. Bryan Adams

Canadian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams has been dividing his time between music and photography for several years now. In 2021 he was chosen for the Pirelli calendar, which was postponed to 2022. He shot popular advertising campaigns, and his work has been featured in major media, including Vogue, GQ, and Interview Magazine. During his career as a self-taught photographer, Adams has published a half-dozen books and portrayed hundreds of celebrities, friends, and colleagues from the entertainment, fashion, and art worlds. “He’s really passionate about it,” said Mat Humphrey, an associate of Adams, at the opening of the “Exposed” exhibition, curated by Anke Dagenhard and Denis Curti at the Leica Galerie in Milan.

The exhibition celebrates his work as a portraitist. Traditional studio portraits are juxtaposed with less conventional ones. In all of them, the photographer is the other protagonist. Adams manages to establish a special relationship with his subjects – they are often long-time friends – and delve into the more intimate nature of celebrities.

All well-known stars: Amy Winehouse, Ben Kingsley, Kate Moss, Mick Jagger, Pink, Lindsay Lohan, Michael Jackson.

The most famous of all is, without a doubt, Queen Elizabeth II.

Mr. Humphrey revealed that for this portrait, commissioned for the Golden Jubilee in 2002, the Queen had only 10 minutes for the session and turned up unexpectedly early. Adams was not ready with his equipment, and the Queen sat down to wait. She was particularly impressed by the old camera Adams had decided to use. She chuckled, and smiled, and noted that she hadn’t seen a camera like it for years. In that specific moment Adams decided to take an informal photo of the Queen, creating a very different portrait from the ones we are used to.

At first, representatives of Queen Elizabeth did not want to release the photo because it depicts some of the monarch’s personal items (the rain boots on her left), but after some time, Adams received an email that authorized him to use it. Maybe at the intervention of the Queen herself, who perhaps liked the photo, said Mr. Humphrey.

The Queen with her Leica.

“The Queen also likes to take photographs,” said Maurizio Beucci, art director of Leica Galleries International. As one of the most photographed people in the world, it is difficult to see her on the other side of the camera, yet on several occasions, she has been seen with her personal Leica.

“Exposed” by Bryan Adams opened on 21 April at the Leica galerie, in Milan.

Gianmaria Biancuzzi is executive editor of Milano Art Guide.