Game of Thrones Portraits

Game of Thrones is a remarkable television extravaganza. George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” is brought to the screen as HBO sinks its considerable storytelling teeth into the medieval fantasy epic. It’s the depiction of two powerful families — kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars and honest men — playing a deadly game for control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and to sit atop the Iron Throne.

Natalie Dormer Portrait Sitting Rory Lewis Photographer London Portrait Photographer

Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of portrait sittings with several members of the cast, Iain Glen, Julien Glover, Natalie Dormer and Ian McShane. See below my portraits along with video clips of each of the Actors in Character on the Television Series.

Iain Glen (Ser Jorah Mormont)

Iain Glen is a Scottish film, television, and stage actor. Iain is best known for his roles in the Resident Evil films and for portraying Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones. Writing to Iain a few months ago to arrange a Portrait sitting for my ‘Northerners‘ Exhibition. Iain accepted my invitation, and the session took place in London last month. Iain arrived on his Cycle at London Portrait Studio, Cycling being Iain’s favorite pass time. After a chat about Iain’s recent projects, I explained the style of images I wanted to achieve. “I like to learn about each person I photograph, so I do my homework, this helps to start a conversation and put the sitter at ease.

 

Iain admired my recent Portrait Sitting with Sir Patrick Stewart and wanted his images to be lit in the same style. After setting up my equipment, we went to work, creating striking Frames, Iain took over posing without direction towards the end of the session, and we managed to capture a selection of spontaneous images which really stand out.


Julian Glover (Grand Maester Pycelle)

Julian Glover London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

I had the esteemed honour of Photographing Veteran Actor Julian Glover at the London Portrait Studio. Julian who Trained at RADA has had a rich illustrious Stage, Film and Television Career. Staring in Star Wars the Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, James Bond For Your Eyes Only and of course Game of Thrones to Name a Few. The Prospect of working with Experienced Actors is a real treat for a Portrait Photographer.

 

With so much character and experience, I wanted to bring this through in the Final Images. To begin with we sat down to discuss the session I was interested to learn about Julian and his work. At present Julian is Staring in the Scottsboro Boys a Powerful West End Musical the Story of a Group of Nine Black Teenagers, brought together by fate in a case that sparked the American Civil Rights Movement. Julian has also played a great deal of Villains in his time and through our conversation I decided to create two looks; a Simple Plain Thoughtful Character Portrait, then turn it around and capture a Portrait of the Villain’s Julian has Played.


Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell)

Actress Natalie Dormer, star of Game of Thrones, The Hunger Gamesand The Tudors sat for a portraitat the London Studio this several weeks ago. I wrote to Natalie inviting her to sit for my Expressive Portraits Project just over a year ago; it just goes to show how many letters and requests she receives. Natalie is exceptionally talented with an incredibly natural beauty. As a realist portrait photographer Natalie was a little apprehensive of my style. In the modern world people are obsessed with removing the detail through airbrushing.

 

My style is to preserve even line every mark every mole. I try to present my subjects as they really are, flaws and all, while allowing for moments of candidness and vulnerability. Less austere and more deliberate than a mug shot, my work often brings facial features into high relief, allowing expressiveness to recede and making the sitter seem somehow up-close and removed at the same time. Natalie indulged me, enabling me to capture a series of wonderful frames. Her apprehension turned to excitement when she viewed the final results which edified her unique and Natural Beauty.


Iain McShane (Septon Ray)

Ian McShane is an English Actor, Director, Producer and Voice Artist. From Lovejoy to Deadwood and Pirates of the Caribbean, McShane is a Screen legend.

Ian McShane is an English Actor, Director, Producer and Voice Artist. From Lovejoy to Deadwood and Pirates of the Caribbean, McShane is a Screen legend. From a lawless saloon owner to the sexiest of beastly British mobsters, award-winning actor Ian McShane has, time and time again, captured the public’s attention by playing bad guys, scoundrels and thieves. “The devil has the best tunes!” he has said with a gleam in his eye. McShane was named “TV’s Sexiest Villain” by People Magazine, and was one of GQ’s “Men of the Year,” which described his portrayal of Deadwood’s Al Swearengenas “infectious” and “irresistible.” McShane haling from Blackburn, was a must for my Northerners Portrait Exhibition. I wrote to Ian’s agency and touched lucky as he was in London promoting his new Film Cuban Fury.

 

Arriving at Bleeding Heart Yard Photography Studios, Ian had the energy and drive of a man half his age, it’s very easy to forget that he is 71. Before the session I had a good chat with Ian he mentioned he had to skip his last term at RADA to make a movie “The Wild And The Willing”. “They told me, ‘If you do this film, you might not get your certificate.’ What, I need a bit of paper on the wall telling me I’m an actor?” Still, they gave it to him in the end. “Signed by John Gielgud! I spoke to him about it much later on when he did an episode of Lovejoy. I said, ‘Thanks for signing my RADA certificate, John.’ Ooh, dear boy, not at all…‘He kept calling me Loveboy. ‘Loveboy, I say…’ Um, John, it’s Lovejoy.‘‘Lovejoy, Loveboy, who cares?’”

 

It was an amazing experience to photograph Ian. I am a BIG fan of Deadwood, and during the photoshoot I said jokingly “give me the Al Swearengen look“ Ian Replied in his signature voice “You will have to pay me for that.“ Plain simple expression was my theme for the Portrait Session, shot on black backdrops the images really show the texture and character of Ian McShane.

 

Limited Edition Prints Available from Sittings Click Here

Phase One

Thank you to Phase One for interviewing me about my recent projects. It was wonderful to share my experience with the XF IQ1 40MP Camera System. If you are considering medium format you should take note, whether shooting fashion, landscape or products; detail is paramount. Take a look at the article below.

London & Los Angeles Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Stephen Graham Portrait Sitting

Stephen Graham Portrait Sitting Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Actor Stephen Graham is an English film and television actor and fellow scouser. Who is best known for his roles as Tommy in the film Snatch (2000), Andrew “Combo” Gascoigne in This Is England (2006), Billy Bremner in The Damned United (2009), notorious bank robber Baby Face Nelson in Public Enemies (2009), Scrum in the Pirates of the Caribbean films and he starred as Al Capone in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

Stephen accepted my invitation to sit for a portrait at the London Studio last week. I’ve admired his work for many years. Graham is a screen icon, exceptionally talented and known for playing no-nonsense gritty characters. I aimed to capture Stephens métier in my portraits, asking him to pose as emotionless, then changing to capture fierce and angry expressions.

Stephen Graham Portrait Sitting Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)

15 Minutes with Bill My tale of photographing a screen icon

William Shatner is best known for his role as Captain James T Kirk on the Starship Enterprise. I’ve had the honour and pleasure of having him in front of my lens on two occasions. In total my time spent photographing him has equated to 15 minutes. 15 minutes with Bill.

 

Being an ardent Star Trek fan, as well as prolific portrait photographer with a strong reputation for icons of stage and screen, this short time with the screen legend has amounted to an extraordinary experience. Yes I’m just a little star struck.

 

To meet one of your childhood heroes can be both awe-inspiring and utterly terrifying at the same time. Now try operating a camera under the pressure!

William Shatner Portrait Rory Lewis Photographer Los Angeles, Portrait Photographer

Where it All Began

 

My first sitting with William Shatner was back on 12th February 2015. At the time I was travelling to LA and wanted to take the opportunity to include Shatner in my Expressive Portraits exhibition.

 

Prior to my LA trip I had written to Shatner expressing my wish to include him in the project. I have to admit it was a stab in the dark. Nonetheless, the reply came that he would do me the honour of accepting my invitation.

 

In preparation for the shoot, I arrived at Shatner’s office at 10am feeling a mixture of nerves, apprehension, and barely-concealed excitement. As I approached the window I could see a large looming figure behind the blinds. It was him. There, right before me stood one of my childhood ‘greats’. Gulp.

 

The door was opened by Kathleen, Mr Shatner’s PA, who kindly informed me I had just 10 minutes to set up and 5 minutes to shoot as he was due to take a flight. No pressure then! I couldn’t let my nerves get the better of me, but how to shoot a living legend in just 5 minutes?

 

Fortunately experience prevailed and I was ready and waiting as Bill entered to take his seat on the stool. In my mind’s eye he was, until this point, a flamboyant character. As I took a deep breath and introduced myself I realised I was completely wrong. Rather than brash and larger than life, Shatner is a very quietly spoken man of only a few words.

 

As a portraitist I have learned to separate the individual’s character as an actor from the characters they have played. In the interests of simplicity (bearing in mind the 5 minute window) I opted straight for this method. However, my initial direction didn’t receive the response I’d hoped for. My request for a plain expression was met with “I don’t do plain!” I quickly took the opportunity to explain my reasoning: that as a character actor the viewer needed a blank canvas, an expressionless person, on which to hang their own thoughts. No good, no bad, no love, no hate, no character, just an opportunity to view and assume. In my experience it is this essence which makes an image thought-provoking and memorable.

 

With my explanation, Bill became more amiable. Deep breath again, using the word “emotionless” in preference to “plain”, this time he agreed. Mr Shatner took his own breath, closed his eyes, and then looked up directly in to the lens, clearly having cleared his mind of thought or question.

 

I clicked. The result was my first thought-provoking portrait of William Shatner. In 5 minutes magic had been created.

William Shatner Portrait Rory Lewis Photographer Los Angeles, Portrait Photographer

 

Second Time, Double Time

 

The second time I photographed Shatner was when I returned to LA in April 2016. Once more I got in touch to arrange a sitting. I had so much more I wanted to explore in the subject that is William Shatner. I was truly delighted to learn of his acceptance. Even more, Shatner himself was ecstatic with my first efforts. I’d done it, in just 5 minutes!

 

The sitting took place on 4th April 2016. Once again I turned up at the office to be greeted by Mr Shatner’s assistant. This time I met a more relaxed Shatner with nowhere to go, and a little more time on his hands. He was more casually dressed, wearing a black shirt as I had requested, and was available for the double the previous five minutes.

 

Preparation for a Portrait Sitting

 

Before any sitting I always spend time planning. This ‘behind the scenes’ time is invaluable for the ultimate portrait. In the case of Shatner I spent hours looking at material from both films and television programmes, as well as reviewing and assessing the other available portraits of Bill to date. There was a common theme running through 99% of them: Bill as the hero.

 

Speaking about this type casting, Bill has quipped: “I always play the hero and always get the girl.” To make a portrait of Bill that was different and unique I wanted to draw him out of his comfort zone. I wanted to polarise him away from the ‘hero’ and instead get him in the camp of the villain.

 

Take Robin Williams for example: a face well-documented in comedy and farce. Yet, when he was given the creepy and darker character named Sy in the psychological thriller One Hour Photo, we saw something utterly new, unnerving and compelling.

 

This became my impetus for the sitting with Shatner. I wanted this to be about Shatner the ‘bad guy’. I took the time to explain my reasoning and idea to Bill and he was very happy and compliant to give it a go.

 

The Portrait Sitting

 

In directing the screen icon, I drew on Shakespeare. I asked Bill to think about a Shakespearian villain and to assume this as his muse. This enticed Bill to gaze leeringly in to the lens as we transformed the heroic Shatner in to the evil alter-ego.

 

After 10 minutes, my sitting with Shatner came to an end. In total, I had experienced 15 minutes with one of my absolute screen heroes in front of my lens.

 

Lessons Learned

 

In order to direct an actor who you have admired for many years is an incredible opportunity. Photography is about so much more than merely clicking the shutter and getting some lighting tricks right. Successful photography, and successful portraiture, is about evoking a feeling. This process is impossible without direction. Direction is key.

 

When I teach photography workshops, students are frequently overawed by the number of different camera and lighting techniques available. This is the stuff of textbooks. However, what transforms you from someone who can operate the equipment to a talented photographer is what happens in that moment when the lights are set up and the camera is ready, and you are alone with the subject. This transcends the techniques and instead becomes about invention. A good photographer, therefore, is a good director.

 

Shakespeare, in Henry V, once penned:

“Oh, for a muse of fire that would ascend

The brightest heaven of invention!

A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,

And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!”

 

Emotive and powerful, and rousing to boot, in portrait photography is of utmost importance to set the scene. You must find your muse and use it to direct. You must think outside of the box, and take your inspiration from cinema, art, or simply by digging deep in to the wealth of your own experiences to find something new and original.

 

 

Caravaggio Style Actor Portraits

Renaissance portraiture and the use of chiaroscuro by the masters has been of immense inspiration to my photographic style. For those unfamiliar, chiaroscuro is an oil painting technique, developed during the Renaissance.  The technique uses strong tonal contrasts between light and dark to model three-dimensional forms. Artists such as Caravaggio used chiaroscuro for dramatic effect. Painting vivid religious depictions of light and shadow.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

Recently I captured a series of exceptionally detailed chiaroscuro portraits inspired by Caravaggio of actors René Auberjonois, Sir Patrick Stewart & Iain Glen.  In these portraits I have attempted to emulate Caravaggio’s naturalism and dramatic lighting with photographic effect. Creating super detail of skin tone, texture and colour. Using inventive art direction I opted for vivid and stark expressions from the contemplation of René Auberjonois to the emotionless Sir Patrick Stewart and the wicked smile of Iain Glen.

 

100 LIMITED EDITION PRINTS OF SIR PATRICK STEWART AVAILABLE CLICK HERE

Sir Patrick Stewart Intense Chiaroscuro Photographer Portraits Rory Lewis LIMITED EDITION PRINTS AVAILABLE CLICK HERE

 

Iain Glen Intense Chiaroscuro Photographer Portraits Rory Lewis LIMITED EDITION PRINTS AVAILABLE CLICK HERE

Actor René Auberjonois Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

100 LIMITED EDITION PRINTS OF SIR PATRICK STEWART AVAILABLE CLICK HERE

Caravaggio (Chiaroscuro & Expression) Portrait Photography Workshops

Los Angeles June 2016

June, I was back in Los Angeles for a few days to photograph a series of Portrait Sittings with three very talented actors. Bo Foxworth, Tony Amendola and Saul Rubinek. 

 

Bo Foxworth is a wonderful stage Actor and recent star of screen and Stage Play All The Way in which Brian Cranston leads the cast as President Lyndon Johnson. My first Portrait sitting of the trip; Bo is a natural in front of the lens, a pleasure to photograph. My theme for the portrait sitting was ‘Expressive’. Directing Bo to assume extreme emotions. To achieve my goal I asked Bo to assume a Shakespearian Character. He obliged me with his favourite Richard III. To my astonishment, Bo became the Machiavellian King presenting me with the true theatrical talent.

Actor Bo Foxworth Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Actor Bo Foxworth Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Actor Bo Foxworth Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Tony Amendola has an instantly recognisable face and was the subject of my second LA Portrait Sitting. I had the delightful pleasure of seeing Tony on stage, playing Judge Brack in Hedda Gabler at the LA Antaeus TheatreAmendola is a wonderfully versatile actor appearing on screen in the Mask of Zorro and in the television series Stargate SG1.

 

Seeking once more, expressive and animated portraiture. I reverted again to the Bard. Tony obliged me with a unique performance of a soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. When working with exceptionally talented actors, truly great things can happen. As Tony performed I clicked away at the shutter; capturing a series of remarkably animated and expressive portraits. Movement is essential in portraiture, so many photographers keep their subjects static, whereas I prefer movement and animation.

Tony Amendola Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Tony Amendola Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Tony Amendola Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Tony Amendola Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Tony Amendola Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Tony Amendola Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

My final Portrait Sitting was the most powerful. Actor Saul Rubinek has been a prolific presence on both the stage and screen for many years. Starring in films such as the Unforgiven to television series Warehouse 13. Saul was very familiar with my style of portraiture and when we sat down to discuss the sitting he had a very simple idea. Instead of Acting to the lens, he would tell me a story. The sitting was very profound as Saul regaled a tale about a traumatic time in his life, as he spoke I clicked the shutter and each frame I captured was emotional and thought-provoking.

 Saul Rubinek Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Saul Rubinek Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

 Saul Rubinek Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Saul Rubinek Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Actors Headshots with Energy

Having been in the business of photography, with a strong focus on Actors Headshots, for over a decade, I’ve got an excellent understanding of what casting directors are looking for in your Actor Headshots. I’m not in the business of churning out uninventive passport-style pictures that don’t reflect who you are as a performer. I work to bring a dynamic and inspiring edge to the images you receive, and which go on to become an essential element of your portfolio.

Sir Patrick Stewart OBE (born 13 July 1940) is an English film, television, and stage actor, who has had a distinguished career on stage and screen. He is most widely known for his roles as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and its successor films, as Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men film series of superhero movies (2000–2014), his prolific stage roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and his many voice acting roles, most notably as C.I.A deputy director Avery Bullock in American Dad!. (Rory Lewis)

I create shots that make you stand out from the crowd – essential when a casting director is potentially viewing thousands of different options available to them. You won’t be lost among the masses. With the right photoshoot and expertly handled images, your shots will grab the attention of the casting director and point directly to your talents and accomplishments whilst also reflecting the truth of the person you are.

HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)

Selecting Your Photographer – What to Look For

 

Knowing which photographer to use for your Actor Headshots can feel a little overwhelming. Can you trust them? How do they work? Do they have a proven track record? These are all valuable questions worth asking.

It may help to look at the portfolio of a photographer to see who they have photographed before now. Sir Ian McKellan, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Patrick Stewart, Brian Cox, Iain Glen, Natalie Dormer, David Warner and Julian Glover are just a handful of the famous names from the acting world that I have had the pleasure of working with.

 (Rory Lewis)

Where to Look

 

With a schedule that is likely tough to manage – with you frequently being in different location – choosing a photographer who will be available where you are is also essential. Whilst some photographers have one base alone, Rory Lewis Photography can be found on home-turf in Liverpool but also across the UK in Manchester, Leeds and London. And if that doesn’t suit, then I’m frequently a pond-hopper and able to conduct shoots Stateside, most often in Los Angeles.

Rory Lewis Photographer Photographing Sir Patrick Stewart

Rory Lewis Photographer Photographing Sir Patrick Stewart

What Does the Headshot Represent?

 

In my experience of successful shooting, an Actor’s Headshot needs to represent one thing: energy. The energy that you will bring to the stage or screen and the character you are looking to play. To create and nurture this energy to come across in the photographs you need a relaxed session with expert guidance. Used to acting in movement, my job is to create that same energy in a still: sometimes a tricky achievement for actors used to a very different style of constant flux.

HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)

I pride myself on being able to get you to act for the camera and in so doing, teamed with my photographic knowledge, capture an image that is full of energy and dynamism. The result is a shot that will represent you as the actor or actress that you are.

 

What to Expect from a Headshot Shoot

 

When you’ve chosen me to undertake your headshots, you get direction in the same way that you are used to when working on stage or screen. Together we bring out your varied emotions, movement and characters spanning the breadth of your desired roles…from heroes to villains, hopeless romantics to cheeky comedians. Your portfolio will soon be varied and reflective of every approach you need for every casting situation.

 (Hasselblad H3D)

As Edgar Alan Poe wrote, the eyes are the window to the soul, and with my direction we capitalise on this whether you’re looking for Shakespearean artistry to images expressing anger and villainy. Your acting talents will be captured in pure essence.

 

Staying Still for the Camera

 

I fully understand that actors are movers. Your energy feeds from movement and sittings aren’t necessarily naturally comfortable settings for such individuals. With my understanding and expertise we work in an improvisation class style to allow your acting talents to meet the stillness of the camera. Even if you hate having your photo taken (it is possible with actors too!) chances are you will soon come to forget that the camera is even there.

 (Rory Lewis)

Taking Our Time

 

I pride myself on offering my clients one key thing: time. I will not rush a shoot. I believe time is what makes each and every shoot successful. There will be breaks, including coffee, for banter and relaxation, which is then reflected in the next stage of the shoot. Producing energy for the shots takes careful nurturing. We will be inside and outside as possible. You never know, you might even have fun.

Michael Thomson London Actors Headshots

Putting it All Together

 

Once the shoot is complete, with plenty of opportunities for feedback and adjustments along the way, I work on compiling a large selection of photos for you to browse and narrow down. I offer different packages depending on the number of costume changes you’re looking for, and the number of final headshots.

I offer student reductions, make-up options, and child actor options. You won’t find Rory Lewis Headshot photography nerve-wracking. You will get a portfolio reflecting your energy as an actor.

 

Click Here to View My Headshot Packages…

Natalie Dormer Portrait Sitting

Natalie Dormer Portrait Sitting Rory Lewis Photographer London Portrait PhotographerActress Natalie Dormer, star of Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and The Tudors sat for a portrait at the London Studio this several weeks ago. I wrote to Natalie inviting her to sit for my Expressive Portraits Project just over a year ago; it just goes to show how many letters and requests she receives. Natalie is exceptionally talented with an incredibly natural beauty. As a realist portrait photographer Natalie was a little apprehensive of my style. In the modern world people are obsessed with removing the detail through airbrushing.

Natalie Dormer Portrait Sitting Rory Lewis Photographer London Portrait Photographer

Natalie Dormer Portrait Sitting Rory Lewis Photographer London Portrait Photographer

My style is to preserve even line every mark every mole. I try to present my subjects as they really are, flaws and all, while allowing for moments of candidness and vulnerability. Less austere and more deliberate than a mug shot, my work often brings facial features into high relief, allowing expressiveness to recede and making the sitter seem somehow up-close and removed at the same time. Natalie indulged me, enabling me to capture a series of wonderful frames. Her apprehension turned to excitement when she viewed the final results which edified her unique and Natural Beauty.

Natalie Dormer (born 11 February 1982) is an English actress. She is best known for her roles as Anne Boleyn on the Showtime series The Tudors (2007–10), as Margaery Tyrell on the HBO series Game of Thrones (2012–present), Moriarty on the CBS series Elementary (2013–15), and as Cressida in the science-fiction adventure films The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) and Part 2 (2015). She has been nominated for Best Performance at the Gemini Awards for her work in The Tudors. She has also been nominated for a Screen Actor's Guild Award for her performance in Game of Thrones. (Rory Lewis)

Lastolite Collapsable Backdrops

Those of you who follow my blog and twitter feed, see me using Lastolite Collapsable Backdrops on the majority of my Portrait Sittings. As a travelling portraitist collapsible backgrounds are a quick and easy solution. They take seconds to set up and pack away making them equally convenient to pop-open in offices & clients homes.

Harry Groener Rory Lewis Photographer

Harry Groener Rory Lewis Photographer

I enjoy shooting portraits with the collapsible backdrops. As a one man band, I can easily accomplish the background set-ups by myself since they fold and unfold like a giant reflector. They are easy to carry on public transport, which is a blessing. The majority of my sittings take place in London. As a regular passinger on the London Underground they are easy to stow in a large suitcase.

 

As well as single sided backdrops, Lastolite offer reversible backdrops giving you more options. The backdrops I most frequently us are the Black/White, White/Light Gray. I also utilise the dyed/muslin backdrops Wyoming/MississippiVirginia /Kentucky. Muslin backdrops give you the choice of colours and patterns.

Left (Virginia Dyed) Capt Reilly Royal Irish Regiment, Right (Wyoming Dyed) Actor Brent Spiner

Left (Virginia Dyed) Capt Reilly Royal Irish Regiment, Right (Wyoming Dyed) Actor Brent Spiner

What are Dyed/Muslin backdrops you may ask; well they date back to the 17th century. They where mostly used in dressmaking back then, as it’s a breathable fabric that drapes niceley. But it also holds dye and paint very well, which moved it into the world of theater, and, eventually, photography. I know what you are thinking, your mind is going back to your days at school, when the school photographer would capture your portrait against an awful dyed backdrop. I thought the same thing, but after looking at the work of the portrait artists of old, Muslins where widely used. Utilising the right lighting and mood these backdrops can help unleash your creativity.

Lastolite Black/White Left Actress Helen Bench, Right Actor William Shatner

Lastolite Black/White Left Actress Helen Bench, Right Actor William Shatner

I mostly use the Black/White Collapsible, I love shooting on black so much and this makes my life very easy. The black is especially handy for when I want a completely dark background that has no light reflection. Most of the locations I shoot in are not ideal, sometimes their is a little too much daylight I can’t block out! I find the backdrop absorbs light from the strobe far better than seamless backdrop paper which in my experience seems to catch the light.

 

Lastolite Urban BackdropsLastolite also offer a selection of Urban Backgrounds bringing the outdoor look, indoors; with a wide selection available. Urban Backgrounds help to save time and costs especially when you trying to find the right location for you portrait photoshoot. (Left Lastolite Urban Collapsible 1.5 x 2.1m Tarnished Metal/Container) The uncontrollable weather and the risk of distractions in the background no longer present challenges. Whether in a studio, or a client’s home, you can create the outdoor look in any location. In conclusion, I couldn’t imagine going back to the days of carrying roles of seamless backdrop paper around, or hunting for a suitable location and in turn praying for good weather.

 

It is also worth mentioning if you are going to invest in Lastolite Collapsable backdrop system. Make sure you purchase the Magnetic Background Support Kit. The Kit enables photographers to quickly and easily attach any collapsible backgrounds with a steel rim to a traditional lighting stand. The background can be attached to the support at a comfortable height. It is also quick and easy to switch backgrounds; simply pull one off and snap another on.

 

Los Angeles April 2016

April saw me spending three weeks back over the pond in Los Angeles, leading me to dub the city my second home. This avenue of photography has really taken off for my business. Back in 2014 it accounted for barely 2% of my work load. Now, in 2016, 15% of my assignments take place in the City of Angels.

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

On home turf it’s a similar story too. Whilst I will always remain true to my roots, Liverpool used to account for 75% of my work, whereas now 60% of my time is devoted to the capital. As my career has developed I’ve followed my heart, always seeking to let my passion see business sense. The combination seems to be working.

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

I’m an Englishman in… Los Angeles
Looking from the outside in has given me a different view of Los Angeles from the average LA dweller themselves. It took a bit of adjusting to the laid back surfer dude lifestyle. For a formal portrait photographer this poses one big shift in dynamics: out is the formal attire of military wear and the suited and booted, in comes the shorts, t-shirts and slip flop look. Quite a contrast.

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

This follows through to business attitudes too. I’m used to presenting my business persona, known to the Americans as the British Stiff Upper Lip. This is a strategy that works well in the corridors of Whitehall, or with eminent London actors, but does leave you feeling a little like a fish out of water in Los Angeles. I’ve had to become chameleon like and change my persona to suit a different brand of clients. In Los Angeles I’m likely to be grabbed en route to the shoot to go grab a taco, crack a few jokes. Shoots will frequently be finished up with a chance to go for dinner when I get quizzed about my works and exhibitions.

 

With a three week visit this time I wanted to head out and experience the real LA. With the convenience of AirBnB this wasn’t too hard as I could do it from a few different apartments and guest houses.

 

After 14 hours of flying I was grateful that my first stop-off was in the quiet hills of La Canada Flintridge. A perfect place to relax, unwind and find my feet. 

I highly recommend the Melrose Trading Post which is open every Sunday. This place is what we would call an antiques and vintage fair in the UK. It’s a delightful mish-mash of stalls with street food and live entertainment. If you want to enjoy some really good food and listen to live music, and buy something vintage make sure you pop along.

Antique Portraits (Melrose Trading Post)

Antique Portraits (Melrose Trading Post)

Down to Work in Los Angeles

 William Shatner was the subject of my first portrait sitting, once again in his offices in Studio City. The previous time I had photographed him I had needed to work fast – I had 5 minutes before he had to fly off to a film set. This time was a different affair. He was wonderfully relaxed, sporting linen trousers and sandals, the epitome of the Californian (even though he is Canadian). LA grows on everyone. I was able to direct several different looks and expressions, and was very pleased with the results as was William Shatner himself.

William Shatner (Rory Lewis Photographer)

William Shatner (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP



Heading downtown to a studio apartment, I moved in to the hustle and bustle of central LA. Welcome to the cultural melting pot. Downtown is unusually small, not at all like New York or London. Being able to walk these streets was a real pleasure knowing that just 20 years ago this was a No Go zone. Despite the compact downtown area, LA in fact spreads out as far as the eye can see into several cities and towns. Downtown has some wonderful quaint and bohemian places to visit, the Last Book Store is a must. But be careful – you will come out with a box of secondhand books as I did.

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

My second sitting of the trip was with legendary actor Richard Herd. Quietly renowned, he as starred in a diverse range of movies and television series, mainly in the 1980s. He starred in TJ Hooker & in the science fiction series ‘V’. You may have also seen him in the 1970’s film FIST.

Actor Richard Herd (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Actor Richard Herd (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Actor Richard Herd (Rory Lewis Photographer)It was a pleasure to be invited to Richard’s home for the sitting. I was delighted to have a look at his own art work, being a keen painter himself. He showed me one of his portraits of Rod Steiger who has starred with him in movies. It was an impressive sight. Richard is now 83 and constitutes my ideal subject for portraiture. He truly has a face that’s been lived in: his features tell the tale of his life, and his aged hands and features make for epic portraiture. His experience as an actor made him a joy to photograph. Richard was at natural ease with direction making my job easier. His poses and expressions were effortless. I donned my thick skin to have him swear at me to express anger, the results were worthwhile!

 

Sitting Number Three

 with actor Jonathan Frakes took place at his home way out in Tarzanna. Jonathan once played the role of Commander Riker in Star Trek the Next Generation. Anyone who follows my work knows that I’m a bit of a Trekkie, so this was a real treat for me.

Jonathan Frakes (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Jonathan Frakes (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Jonathan is now a director. He’s been responsible for directing many episodes of Marvels Agents of Shield, Falling Skies, and his latest project The Librarians. It was incredibly interesting to meet Jonathan. An exceptionally tall man, I took my wife Sasha with me to assist on the sitting. Sasha being 6’ 2” herself was still dwarfed by him. His stature combined with his natural portrait-ready face made a series of striking frames.

Jeffrey Combs (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Jeffrey Combs (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Los Angeles Welcomes My Fourth Sitting

. This sitting almost certainly was my favourite. I had the pleasure of photographing actor Jeffry Combs, a true master of talent. Again he tickled my Trekkie fandom, but Combs is also known for his starring role in the 1980’s gore fest, The ReAnimator as well as other roles. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance in “Would You Rather” – it’s a horror movie with an interesting twist.

Jeffrey Combs (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Jeffrey Combs (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Meeting Jeff at the entrance of the apartment, we headed out for a taco and a chance to chat about his latest projects – and to get a sense of the man in the flesh ready for his shoot. Jeff is another epitome of Californian style and relaxed charm. His face is animated and expressive and he truly put on a performance for the shoot. I directed him to imagine being giving a parking ticket right after the shoot, the expression was worth it and broke free from the Californian laid back style. Every frame tells a different story. It was a privilege to see each element of my direction reflected in a unique expression, a moment in time caught in portrait. I just hope he didn’t in fact get a parking ticket!

Harry Groener (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Harry Groener (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Nearing the End, with My Second-to-Last LA Portrait Sitting
Actor Harry Groener was the star of my penultimate sitting. I was previously due to shoot Harry later in the second week of my visit. However, Harry texted me to say he had just been cast for a part, and the wonderful beard and slightly long hair he was sprouting would have to be cut off. With this in mind we moved the sitting forward. As a wonderful character actor, I wanted to capture Harry as the mammoth of the stage he is. One of the things you understand is that Character Actors enjoy the rugged look: The Stoop, as I like to call it.

Harry Groener (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Harry Groener (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Once again, a laid-back character greeted me at the apartment. We worked together to create several different looks and emotions to create a series of wonderful portraits that would challenge and inspire. Harry is an incredibly talented actor, absorbing my photography direction effortlessly.

 

My Last Photography Sitting in Los Angeles

My final sitting of the trip took place at our final destination: The Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City. Without a doubt, The Sportsmen’s Lodge is by far our favourite hotel in LA. It is an icon of the 1950s. Incredibly , John Wayne once fished in the lake behind the hotel with his son. The hotel certainly hasn’t lost its charm and is well worth considering it if you’re planning a trip to LA.

Kitty Swink (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Kitty Swink (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Actress Kitty Swink was my final sitting of the trip. Kitty is the wife of my good friend, Armin Shimmerman. A superb actress, Kitty’s eyes are a striking combination of hazel and green. Kitty and Armin mirror my wife and I: one is tall and one is short, and we’re not looking at the usual gender stereotype! For Kitty and Armin this in fact helped the pair to gain a role as a married couple in Dudley Moore’s movie, “Like Father Like Son”. Let’s not forget that Dudley Moore himself would feel at ease with the stature of myself and Armin! Nonetheless, Kitty is generally more a native of the stage as an astounding actress. She is effortlessly expressive and a true talent indeed.

 

Rory Lewis, Back to Blighty 

All in all, the trip was a very successful. We were welcomed by this incredible city, and we spent three wonderful weeks exploring it. I completed six successful portrait sittings that have become essential parts of my portfolio and depict my love of portraiture.

 

I’m looking forward to returning to LA in June. This time the focus of the trip will be to teach a workshop with my new partner, Samy’s Camera. Nonetheless I already have several plans to complete more portrait sittings.

 

If you are looking for a photographer, notably a specialist in portraiture photography, in Los Angeles, then give me a shout. I’m in LA several times a year and always keen to schedule new assignments.

 

Los Angeles Actors Headshots Rory Lewis Photographer