Princess Diana
Levine described Princess Diana as friendly and relaxed during her sitting. Gemma Levine

Celebrity photographer Gemma Levine has revealed the stories behind her stunning photographs of some of the world's most celebrated personalities.

Levine got her first big break as celebrity photographer in 1976 when she shot the Conservative leader Edward Heath on the telephone in 1976 as he was informed of the resignation of Harold Wilson.

She has since gone on to photograph the likes of Joan Collins, Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud, Henry Moore, Joanna Lumley and Princess Diana. The images feature in her new book 'Just One More...A Photographer's Memoirs.'

Describing her experience of photographing the Princess of Wales she said: "Diana was warm, gracious and completely natural. She talked to me about her boys, and I spoke of my own sons.

"We were totally at ease in each other's presence. Without any hesitation, she changed clothes in front of me, asking me if I minded and she did not need mirrors to refresh her make-up or hair. A week later she returned with an enormous bouquet of flowers to thank me."

She revealed that the striking black and white image signed by Diana, takes pride of place in her home.

"I had it blown up and framed, and she signed it Diana and dated it September 31, 1994. Of course, September only has 30 days, so that makes me smile every time I look at it. I thought it was hysterical and so sweet," she added.

Ben Kingsley
Levine described the Gandhi star as hilarious. Gemma Levine

Levine revealed that while Ben Kingsley was "hilarious" and she found Tony Blair "shy," she was unimpressed by newspaper mogul Rupert Murdoch.

"Rupert Murdoch was the most difficult, he didn't want me anywhere near him," she revealed.

The portrait of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

"It was in 1994, he was subdued and rather shy, clasping his hands almost in prayer. I love a photograph that gives a reaction."

She described Gandhi star Ben Kingsley as a charismatic subject.

"This was a hilarious sitting. He immediately struck me as a vibrant, energetic man and he decided to take off his shirt and bare his chest. A few years later I wrote to him but forgot to address him as Sir Ben Kingsley. I received a reply telling me off in no uncertain terms for my lack of respect. I enjoyed him immensely but he's very direct."

Joan Collins
Levine captured Joan Collins at the height of her TV fame. Gemma Levine

Photographing Dynasty star Joan Collins in 1987 at the height of her TV fame, she was confronted by the image of a star.

"She emerged from a chauffeur-driven car on a blustery evening in a black polka-dot dress, fine black stockings and black stilettos, a pearl-and-diamond necklace and matching earrings. She was breathtakingly beautiful. She asked for the bathroom, then when she was in there the handle jammed. I was convinced the shoot would be a disaster. But she was masterly and it went without a hitch."

Bob Hoskins, however was less than enthused at the prospect of being photographed at all.

"After one roll of film he was obviously bored," reveals Levine. "He had a great sense of humour, he went into the bathroom, put his head under the shower and came back dripping wet, saying, "You may get a more interesting shot?" 'I can't find the negative, but I like this first shot I took, the cap was cute and framed his face well."

Joanna Lumley
Levine established an immediate rapport with Joanna Lumley. Gemma Levine

Meanwhile, Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley displayed the kid of British charm she is synonymous with. "She walked into my studio having never met me before and seemed to be my best friend in less time than it took to boil an egg.

"It took just ten minutes and we talked for a good half hour. We have kept in touch through letters. She has a wonderful way of expressing herself."

'Just One More... A Photographer's Memoir' is out on April 3, published by Elliott & Thompson, £25