Freddie Mercury Photo at a Queen Concert Has Him Surrounded by Smoke Shaped Like the Queen

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 like you won the jackpot. This idea is highlighted in a photo 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.)

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. The other two photos also feature Mercury in his element, with one image using colored lights as a unique graphic element.

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.”

Sarah Simkins’ mom snuck a camera into a Queen concert in 1978 and was able to capture three photos. Here are two of them.

Her mom, she explained, wasn't a photographer, but loved music.

These are some of the shows she saw.

Sadly, Simkins’ mom suddenly passed away at the end of 2021. She's enjoyed being able to share the photos taken by her mom and tell people about her.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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