Freddie Mercury photo at a Queen concert shows him surrounded by smoke shaped like Queen Elizabeth II

August 1, 2023

There’s an element of luck with every photo snapped. After all, you never entirely know what your picture will look like when you press the camera shutter—especially when you’re shooting on film. It’s a gamble that can result in an amazing image that makes you feel as if you won the jackpot—which is what happened with the photo above; shared by Sarah Simkins, who posted a picture that her mom took in 1978. (Simkins originally said 1979, but later found the original Queen ticket stub that said 1978.)

As reported by My Modern Met, the incredible image is of a Queen performance, in which Freddie Mercury is singing as smoke rises behind him. It’s got a mystical, almost otherworldly feel that’s made even more sublime by the shape of the plume.

The smoke, Simkins notes, looks just like like a profile view of Queen Elizabeth—and it does! It creates a resulting photo that captures Mercury’s energy while also reminding us how the external elements of the show can add to its overall experience, both in person and on film.

According to Simkins, her mom took a chance when snapping the photo. She snuck her 35mm camera into the show when she was just 16 years old, and she was able to capture three photos on the sly.

Sharing the viral photo gave Simkins the opportunity to tell the Internet more about her mom. “She was not a photographer,” Simkins explains, “she actually joined the conservation corp after [high school] and worked building trails/fighting forest fires in kings canyon! Then became a triathlete and did the Ironman on her honeymoon. She was one of a kind.”

Sadly, her mom suddenly passed away at the end of 2021. Simkins can’t ask her any more questions about the photos, but she’s left with the memories. “…music was one of our greatest bonds and we’ve spent hours and hours reliving those teenage years,” Simkins recalls. “Sharing these is sharing her and both warm my heart. She’d want you to see.”

Research contact: @mymodernmet