Out of the Darkroom and into the Closet

There are many fine portraits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, but this one is a bit special. It was taken in Papua New Guinea in 1974, when the country was soon to celebrate its independence, and it captures the Queen at the height of her popularity. These were the days before family scandals furrowed her brow, and she was mature enough to be taken seriously as the Head of the Commonwealth, yet warm enough to engage with everyone she met. Her hat was adorned with flowers and was exactly right for the occasion.

Queen Elizabeth II. Photographer: Denis Williams

The other portrait is of a lady we met along the Highlands Highway, on the other side of the Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Guinea. She was wearing a grass skirt and carried on her head a heavy load of cut grass, for the roof of a new house in her village. Later she would go to the mountain gardens to dig up some yams.

We did but see her as we were passing b

We did but see her as we were passing by. Highlands Highway c. 1973. Photographer Denis Williams.

Here, then, are two ladies from opposite sides of the world whose lives were about as different as it was possible to be, yet they both had happy, twinkling eyes and wow, talk about beautiful smiles! Who knows? If they had met, they might have been soul sisters.

Most of the photos that we printed in the old days have been stored away in cardboard boxes for 35 or 40 years. These are two of them. Maybe it is time to start bringing some of those photos out of the closet and into the light, for one brief, shining moment.

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