Photog Behind Viral Harry and Megan Pic Shoots Down Claims it Was Doctored

Reuters/Dylan Martinez
Reuters/Dylan Martinez

The photographer behind a snap of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has skewered the “really dangerous journalism” he claims is the nexus of the latest altered photo scandal involving the royal family, days after Kate Middleton admitted she doctored a photo of herself and her kids on Mother’s Day.

In a video message shared Wednesday, the Nigerian photographer Misan Harriman said a now-viral photo that was used to announce the Duchess of Sussex’s pregnancy in 2021 was only edited to adjust its color grading despite rumors it had its background altered.

Harriman’s claim contradicts what the Daily Mail reported Tuesday, which cited an old interview from Harriman himself as it wrote that the tree and shrubs surrounding Harry and Meghan in their pregnancy announcement were photoshopped into the snap. That report unleashed a firestorm of criticism and calls of hypocrisy at the couple after someone close to the Sussexes allegedly mocked Kate’s editing gaffe, Page Six reported, citing a source.

“This isn’t a mistake that Meghan would ever make,” that source allegedly told Page Six, which Harry and Meghan denied them ever saying. “She has a keen eye and freakish attention to detail.”

But Harriman says new claims about Meghan and Harry’s photo are simply not true, adding that the Daily Mail misconstrued his answer to what he described was a “leading question” by the journalist Michael Berkeley on a BBC Radio podcast.

Harriman pointed out that it was Berkeley who mentioned a meadow and willow tree being added to the photo, suggesting they were photoshopped in. In the recording, which Harriman played in his video message, he appears to dodge the questions about the background entirely—neither confirming or denying if the snap was photoshopped.

“They weren’t actually under a willow tree, they were lying outside in a meadow, Harry and Meghan, when you took a photo of them?” asked Berkeley.

Harriman replied, “They were lost in their life at home, in their garden, comfortable celebrating new joy, new life, the fortitude of hoping for light in life after such a loss that they went through with a miscarriage. And so it really was a particularly joyous image to celebrate life itself.”

After turning off the podcast interview, Harriman again expressed his disbelief that the podcast exchange had blown up into what it is today.

“How that exchange could amount to me admitting to doctoring an image is insidious and really dangerous journalism,” he said. “Any mention of meadows and willow trees came out of the person doing the interview, not my mouth... To see an article saying, as fact, that I did what I did not do is extraordinary to me—and then to try and merge it with this current news cycle of what’s happening, it’s tragic to see.”

To drive home his point, Harriman also shared the metadata for the photo, which he captured remotely using an iPad as the COVID-19 pandemic was still in full swing. He also showed the photo in color, further disproving rumors it was photoshopped to add the couple into a meadow and under a tree.

The mini-scandal comes off a busy week for Harriman, who was nominated this past weekend for his short film The After at the Oscars. He said dealing with this headache was one of his first points of order after making it back home.

“I just got back to reality from the Oscars,” he said. “And unfortunately, there’s been an article on the Daily Mail saying that I have admitted to doctoring the pregnancy announcement portrait I took of Harry and Meghan. Apparently I was switching out trees and meadows. And I admitted to this in an episode of a podcast called Private Passions. This is crazy.”

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