Not a cent for photo seen worldwide

TOM HUNT
Last updated 11:09 23/04/2014
Prince George
SIMON WOOLF
COMMON SIGHT: Simon Woolf estimates his photo of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George would have been viewed at least a billion times.

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It could be the most-viewed image ever snapped by a New Zealander but Simon Woolf won't see a cent for his wildly-popular royal tour image.

The photo is of Prince George leaning on Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge's shoulder with Prince William in the background. Every face is partially-obscured.

It was taken at Government House on day three of the royal tour as the baby was being carried through to meet Plunket babies for his first royal engagement ever.

Woolf, a professional photographer and Wellington City councillor, was given exclusive access to a side room adjoining the waiting Plunket families, when he snapped the single frame which he admitted could be the defining photo of his career.

Within hours of being put on the Government House Facebook page the photo had 1.4 million views.

It has since been on the cover of Hello, and featured in The Sun, The Telegraph, and on ABC, CNN, and Sky television, among others.

Woolf estimated it had conservatively been seen more than 1 billion times, which he estimated would put it on par with fellow New Zealand photographer, and mentor, Brian Brake's famous Monsoon Girl photo.

He only discovered he would be allowed exclusive access to the royals 20 minutes before he took the photo.

''There was a bit of a plan for a [staged] family photo but it fell to pieces because they allowed George to sleep for an extra half-hour.''

When he snapped the photo he knew it was ''reasonable'' but it was not a good day for lighting for photography.

''I didn't know until I got it on the computer to see how sharp it was.''

His phone rang till 1.30am the next day with agencies around the world requesting more information or different files of it.

Despite the wild popularity, Woolf will not see a cent from the photograph as the pool system on royal tours mean photographers have to share images freely.

He had ''absolutely no regrets'' despite the fact he would have been a millionaire if he had been able to sell the image.

''I just think to be chosen to represent New Zealand for the tour was just the most unbelievable honour.''

At the end of the tour he presented the royals with a framed, black and white copy of the photo.

''She [the duchess] said it was just lovely and it was her favourite of the tour.''

She had earlier commented to him she had seen the photo and liked it.

He had previously photographed the royals and the duke remembered him from previous tours.

At the end of a yacht race on America's Cup boats in Auckland, in which the duchess bet the duke, Woolf commented to William about how happy his wife was.

''He said to me, 'I would bet she is'. He went to her yacht and she gave him the loveliest ribbing you could imagine.''He came away from the tour with glowing praise of the royals.

William was a ''class act'' and ''she is every bit as wonderful as he is and she has such a wonderful heart''.

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He planned on sending framed copies of his photo to baby George's grandparents and great-grandparents, otherwise known as Prince Charles and the Queen.

- The Dominion Post

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