Remembering Lord Snowdon

Illustration by Brittany Richmond

Picture the scene. Princess Margaret, the Queen's glamorous sister, in nothing but a sparkling tiara, soaking in a tub of hot water in conversation with her husband. Snap! Immortalised. The oft-Instagrammed image of the late Lord Snowdon’s most significant subject is one of many iconic photographs of theatre, fashion and society figures, captured in his Pimlico studio. 

Damien Hirst in a goldfish bowl; a gap-toothed Laurence Olivier sneering beneath thick eyebrows; a corseted Helen Mirren framed by light bulbs in the dressing room; Marlene Dietrich in a cloud of smoke.

Young Tony Armstrong-Jones’ interest in photography was initiated by working aged 7 or 8 for his uncle Oliver Messel, the stage designer. Graduating from the Box Brownie to room above a chemist on Windsor High Street - having re-started the Eton photographic society - Armstrong-Jones sourced scarcely available photographic paper from a jeweller’s. His Cambridge career did not last a year, and after eschewing natural studies and architecture, was apprenticed to the famous society photographer Baron for three years, for the sum of £100, paid by his father.