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June 18, 2014

Irish Guards Remain at Attention After One Guardsman Faints in London, England, June 1966

From 1962 to 1994, James P. Blair served as a staff photographer for National Geographic. He has had 47 stories published and over 2000 pictures printed in the magazine, including major coverage of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, West Africa, Iran, Greece and the United States.

Many of the most successful and well-loved images on the National Geographic Found Tumblr were taken by James P. Blair. His photograph of a fallen Irish Guardsmen has garnered over 150,000 Tumblr “notes”—the most out of any photo published on Found.

(Photograph by James P. Blair/ National Geographic)

Here, long-time National Geographic photographer James Blair described what happened:⁣

“In June, the Queen has her birthday celebration, and she rides her horse around this square, and all of the soldiers are lined up, and I was there to get pictures of the Queen riding around, and anything else that would happen. This was a very long telephoto lens, an 800-millimeter. I was on the press stand and was able to photograph across the whole courtyard, when this guy fell over.

“He was almost immediately scooped up. The medical people came out about 30 seconds after I took this picture and scooped him up and took him back to the infirmary and took care of him. But I was told afterwards that you’re literally trained to fall at attention. If you’re standing at attention, you fall at attention, and it was just like a toy soldier falling over. I don’t think I got the falling process. I think I saw it out of the corner of my eye and I was focused on the Queen, and I swiveled around, click, click, click, and made that photograph.”

When asked why he might have fallen over, Blair replied, “Who knows? It was June, it was hot, the bearskin is very heavy, and if you have a cold or flu or something, it’s possible that it could happen.”



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