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The secret behind Kate Middleton's personal family photos – the cameras and lens she uses and why

Kate's passion for photography was ignited long before she became a royal

Andrea Caamano

The Duchess of Cambridge has many hobbies and interests; sports, arts and crafts, cooking... but there is one in particular that takes preference over the rest, and that is her love of photography.

Kate is a self-professed "enthusiastic amateur photographer," and for years has been documenting all of her family's big moments and life events. We've seen her work countless times, and her favourite subjects have always been her three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and most recently, Prince Louis.

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Prince William, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis in Norfolk 

The mother-of-three's passion for photography was ignited long before she became a royal. When she worked at her parents' company Party Pieces, she was already in charge of photographing stock for the catalogue and website. And later on, at University, the topic of her dissertation was - you guessed it - photography. The Duchess' undergraduate thesis - which helped her earn a 2:1 Hons MA art history degree from the University of St. Andrews - was on the photographic representations of childhood created by Lewis Carroll, author of the famous Alice in Wonderland books.

MORE: All the times Kate has shared her personal photographs of George, Charlotte and Louis

Later on, she also helped to host a photography exhibition of Alastair Morrison’s work to benefit UNICEF while still living in London. And most recently, the Queen handed her the gifts of all gifts, the patronage of the Royal Photographic Society.

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Kate during a photography workshop for Action for Children, run by the Royal Photographic Society

Prince William's wife has been spotted on several occasions with her own camera, most recently during the couple's royal tour of Pakistan in October. But which camera does the Duchess use to photograph her personal pictures? Well, it turns out that the royal has a firm favourite brand - and she actually owns not one, but two Canon cameras.

Kate was first spotted with her personal camera back in 2011, when she and William visited Canada after their royal wedding. It was during her visit to Charlottetown that she took out her trusted Canon PowerShot G12 camera to photograph Prince William as he took part in a helicopter manoeuvre called "water birding" across Dalvay lake. In 2012, she used the same camera to take pictures during a private walk through the Borneo rainforest in Malaysia – later releasing seven photographs to the public.

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Kate in Charlottetown, Canada, in 2011 

The Duchess didn't share any more of her own snaps until she released four stunning photos of Prince George holding his newborn sister Princess Charlotte in 2015. Here, and thanks to the EXIF information on some of her portraits, we know Kate used her more professional camera - the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and her favourite lens, the 50mm.

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READ: See The Duchess's best sporting moments in photos

Royal photographer James Whatling, who has accompanied the royal family on countless tours and engagements over the years, says Kate is a clearly a proficient photographer.

"She clearly has a good knowledge of the equipment she’s chosen, the Canon 5D is one of the best DSLR's available, and the Canon G12 is one the most highly regarded compact cameras," he told HELLO!

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Prince George pictures with sister Charlotte two weeks after her birth

"The Duchess seems to favour the professional Canon 5D for the pictures that are released, which would make perfect sense as the better quality images produced are required by the newspapers and magazines, especially as they are destined to appear on the front covers on newsstands across the world."

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David Parry, product specialist at Canon UK and Ireland, agrees: "The great thing about the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is that it's a full-frame camera which means you can get a lot more detail into the image. It also has a large sensor which allows for more depth to photographs and makes it easier to isolate your subject from the background – perfect for family portraits."

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Princess Charlotte smelling a bluebell - photo taken by Kate

Explaining the importance of using a 50mm, which Kate uses in the pictures of her children, David adds: "The 50mm lens is great for portraits as it doesn’t distort the features of your subjects like wide-angle lenses can sometimes do. A 50mm lens is not too long, making it the perfect length for photographing young children as you can still interact with them and be part of the experience as well as being the photographer.

"The 50mm lens is a great portrait lens, and Kate has made good use of its wide maximum aperture to create a shallow depth of field allowing the subject to be the sole point of focus," adds royal photographer James. "This technique shows how proficient the Duchess is as a photographer, shooting all of her pictures manually, with a good understanding of how to use shutter speed and aperture to create the perfect result.

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The mother-of-three released pictures of Prince Louis last week to mark his second birthday

"Her composition is good, but more important is her choice of background. What a lot of people don't do is look at the picture as a whole, including the background and how it might distract from the subject. Kate clearly understands how important it is to take everything into account when creating a portrait, including picking a nice background. That's a real skill," he adds.

James is a fan of Kate's work, but he has just one suggestion for improvement. "She does have a habit of cropping the children's hands off in the pictures. Perfect composition is so hard when photographing children, but if you step back and give yourself a little more room, then you have a bit of leeway if they step towards you at the key moment. The old photographer's adage, 'You can always crop into it, but you can't add something that isn't there,' is always worth remembering."

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James Whatling says Kate has a habit of cropping her children's hands

Looking back to her first pictures of her children, James says: "The Duchess is a very good amateur photographer, and has produced some really beautiful images of George, Louis and Charlotte over the years. It makes perfect sense for her to do this, children can be a challenge to photograph well and nobody is better equipped to put them at ease and capture them in a natural setting than their parents.

"The first pictures she released of Prince George holding Princess Charlotte as a baby shows this perfectly. It's a tender moment, there's soft natural light from the windows and you can almost imagine Prince William getting Prince George's attention for the main picture. Like all good photographers, Kate knows how to make use of natural light, either from the big windows of Kensington Palace, or outside in the gardens of Anmer Hall."

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Kate was pictured with her professional Canon camera back in 2008

The royal photographer, however, can't wait to see Kate take on the ultimate challenge – capturing her three children at once.

"What I'm really looking forward to is seeing how the Duchess copes with the ultimate challenge, photographing all three young children at once! With the lockdown and spring in full flow with such beautiful weather, I'm sure she'll be out in the gardens of Anmer Hall trying to do just that," he says.

And we hope we'll get to see those pictures soon.

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