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Patrick Lichfield: Lord and master of the celebrity snap


Four decades of photo shoots with royalty and film stars, musicians and, well, everyday people left Patrick Lichfield with a wealth of stories as well as a pile of Polaroids. Visitors to Nunnington Hall in North Yorkshire can now catch a glimpse of those shoots with the first exhibition of the behind-the-scenes shots that formed part of his personal collection. It records every major shoot the celebrated photographer worked on from the early 1970s to 2004.

He used Polaroids as test shots, to make sure the lighting, exposure and composition were correct. Yet, he was loath to part with them and at the end of each year, would collect his favourites in a frame and hang in the make-up room of his studios.

Iain Lewis, who was Lord Lichfield's digital assistant for several years before his death, said: "He liked having them as an aide-mémoire to what had happened on the shoots."

He started taking Polaroids in 1971, about seven years after taking up photography professionally, and among the early snaps on display are those of Britt Ekland at his family home Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire.

Other subjects include actors such as Michael Caine, Helen Mirren and Nicole Kidman as well as Princess Margaret, Sir Anthony Dowell and Pelé. "Like all photography it's about capturing memories and moments in time," says Lewis.

Lichfield documented the social and celebrity set in the UK throughout his career and had a string of romances with stars including Ekland and Jane Seymour. In 2005, he died of a stroke at the age of 66.

Through Lichfield's Lens – the Polaroids, Nunnington Hall, near York, YO62 5UY (01439 748283) until 7 May