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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Theatre. Amendola 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m delighted to announce a collaboration with Shotkit’s Mark Condon who have published a collection of my work in the Shotkit Book Volume II. If you are looking for inspiration, tips, tricks and ever wondered what’s in the camera bags of some of the world’s most established photographers. Mirrorless, Medium Format, Film, dSLR, smart phone… if it takes a photo, it’s in the Shotkit Book! Discover the cameras, lenses, flashes and all other equipment world-class photographers from a variety of disciplines use to make their jobs easier.
Actress 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The Year of Portraiture. This year has seen me photographing a range of eminent figures from the world of politics, acting and the military. 2015 has seen me expand from Liverpool to nationwide, with a focus in London, as well as hopping the Atlantic to make my name Stateside. 2015 has been a monumental year for Rory Lewis Photography seeing me grow exponentially as a person through learning and rekindling of creative drive, as well as the business going from strength to strength, up there with the big players. And this is due to my sole enterprise now being Portraiture encompassing commercial, editorial, industrial, entertainment, artistic and cultural purposes.
The year began with two commercial assignments the first with a commercial uniform supplier and the second with impressive costume jewellery designers, Halo & Co. I conducted a series of challenging yet rewarding shoots of models decked out in the most glorious signature costume pieces. I captured the detail in order to delight the viewer, and I’m honoured to have been a part helping to establish this inspiring company on the international jewellery design scene.
Spring and Summer saw my diary go crazy as I met an explosion of requests from both established and up-and-coming actors. I lived and breathed headshots for Spotlight and other casting websites. I attribute this success due to 2014’s Northerners Exhibition where I set the trend for modern Portraiture sittings with well-known names like Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen. I’ve felt privileged to work with such inspiring professionals, both new and old-hands, from pantomime to theatre and film. Memorable sittings include those with Michael Thomson (Pictured Right) (Jonny Maconie in BBC’s Holby City), Luke Bailey (Sam Bateman in TV’s Casualty), Matthew Morley (star of Hollywood Blockbuster “Fury”) and the one to keep an eye on, teenage actor Lewis Hamilton, star of CBBC Comedy Series, The Dumping Ground.
Alongside this I expanded my Corporate Headshot Services. We live in an “instant visual” age, and these headshots are becoming key in identifying and defining commercial and public professionals. I have completed commissions from firms such as Bunzl Retail – requiring shoots of large teams – to Zenith Chambers (Leeds) who required portraits of individual barristers and paralegals. My friendly and professional approach is welcomed across the spectrum of various corporations, from high-powered board members to all members of staff.
Famous faces have hit the Rory Lewis lenses again this year. I’ve commenced work on three new exciting exhibition projects, the first of which is entitled “Expressive”. Expressive explores professional actors from all walks of life, from across the globe.
The Expressive Project began back in February with a trip to Los Angeles to complete a sitting with Star Trek’s William Shatner (Above). I admit, I have been an avid Trekkie since the age of 7, so I was a little like a kid in a sweet shop. This was an incredible chance to work with a Screen Legend, a dream come true to work with the iconic Captain Kirk and TJ Hooker. It was a speedy sitting owing to time schedules, but worth every second of it. Whilst in Los Angeles I also encompassed a shoot with a star of the future Star Trek Generation, Brent Spiner. (Below) It was an absolute pleasure working with Brent who proved himself to be a natural in front of the camera: making a highly rewarding session for me, creating a vast array of expressions.
These two sittings were a fantastic springboard for the Expressive Project. Back on English soil I arranged sittings in London with Steven Berkoff. Infamous for being a difficult character to work with, I entered the shoot feeling somewhat intimidated. However, he’s nothing like the villainous creation of many of his movies, but in fact I found him to be a warm and thoughtful man whose essence I was able to capture completely as well as an amazingly evil portrait that instils drama and suspicion in the eye of the beholder. (Below)
Jumping back across The Pond once again in September I undertook Portrait sitting with Actor and Star of Star Trek Deep Space Nine René Auberjonois (a descendant of Napoleon no less) and a Prince whose family gave up their title when they moved to America at the turn of the century. Additionally, this trip involved sittings with Armin Shimerman, Robert Picardo and Breaking Bad’s Mark Margolis (Below) who I simply bumped in to in my hotel.
One of my most enjoyable Expressive sittings was with Andy Robinson,(Right) famed for playing the Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry, the first psychopathic killer to hit our screens. Capturing this incredible evil expression with piercing fierce eyes was truly a memorable moment. Having admired his work once for with my Trekkie hat on when he played Garak the Cardassian Tailor in Star Trek’s Deep Space Nine, I was once again thrilled to be working with such a personality. Expressive was exhibited in Liverpool and London in October. Proving itself a success, I gained sponsorship from the exhibition from Calumet Photographic, Mamiya and Hahnemühle. I was delighted that the Exhibition was featured in both Local and National Press and Television, making my accomplishment all the more enjoyable.
I was commissioned by Cancer Research UK to undertake pictures for their campaign promoting Bowel Cancer Awareness. Knowing I was involved in such a worthwhile and much much-needed campaign was humbling and exhilarating in equal measure. Working with individuals who have suffered with such greatness, yet thrived in recovery, was a shoot I won’t forget. Additionally, smaller commissions flooded in for product and clothing photography.
Word spreads in the World of Photography: it matters deeply to people that they feel comfortable behind the lens and in the resulting images. Therefore, as my reputation has grown I am seeing more and more commissions from Actors, Singers, Dancers, Models, Musicians and Entertainers to be used for promotional material. Following in the groove I set in 2014 I continue to move further away from the sphere of fashion to deeper work, concentrating on my love of all things Portraiture. I love helping aspiring talent to promote their faces and will continue to do so throughout 2016.
Additionally, I’m looking to continue to offer model portfolio services with limited monthly sessions in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and London. Again, I love knowing I’ve played a part in helping models take their first steps in to the industry by providing them with powerful portfolio pieces.
My background as a History Graduate continues to drive my passion for capturing Historical Portraiture, combining my knowledge and ability as a historian with my skills as a Portrait Photographer. I have such a passion for this area of my work, blending the different aspects of my interests and abilities. Therefore I began a new project entitled Portraitist. This fascinating project combined by love of renaissance portraiture with my love of photography in to one exceptional outcome, capturing the faces of power from the Military to Political spheres. The project has seen me walking the Halls of Power with sittings in Whitehall, the DWP, Army HQ (Andover), Royal Air Force HQ (High Wycombe) and New Scotland Yard. The project is gaining success all the time, and following letters of invitation, has included eminent figures including Baron William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Lt. General James Everard and Sir Bernard Hogan Howe (Left).
The sitting with William Hague (Above) was incredibly rewarding. I have yearned for the chance to work with a truly significant British historical character. Hague’s name is synonymous with modern political discourse and assertions of power and influence, but to meet him in person you would not think it. Incredibly ‘human’ and real, he is a very witty man who was reeling off jokes throughout the sitting. He held himself beautifully for the portrait, so well in fact that I was able to capture the essence of one of my favourite Holbein pieces, dignified and full of grace and authority.
On the back of the sitting with William Hague, I did another portrait photo-shoot with Iain Duncan Smith. (Below) Working once more with a veteran of power and controversy was both inspiring and rewarding. I’m hoping to build on this type of sitting in 2016, avidly looking forward to another addition to the Portraitist Exhibition which will see me directing a shoot with former Prime Minister, Sir John Major, as well as other political and military figures’ sessions that I have in the pipeline.
The third project that I commenced in 2015 I have entitled Ambassadors, inspired by the intrigue of Holbein’s Ambassadors Portrait. London is a city home to hundreds of political missions and I have long harboured the desire to meet and work with important figures from many different countries and backgrounds. The Ambassadors Project saw me visit the Mexican (Below), Italian, Estonian, Danish, Austrian and Swiss Embassies in a bid to photograph each Ambassador. More Embassy sittings are booked for 2016 and I’ve looking forward to adding to this project with commissions from Attachés and members of political commissions.
The three projects, Expressive, Portraitist and Ambassadors, have enabled me to expand my knowledge of portraiture, allowing me to try new methods and ways of working, building on my already successful skill-base. Working in such a creative profession, I consider it essential to test myself and push forward expanding my limits. Projects enable me personally, to document my growth as a professional. This has been particularly rewarding as I have seen a blend of all my personal passions combining science fiction and history in an eclectic mix in my work.
Learning and sharing continues to fuel my desires, and I’m proud and delighted to be continuing to offer a vast array of Photography Workshops as well as one-to-one Portrait Tuitions in Liverpool, Manchester, London and Edinburgh. Meeting with new students and sharing my love of portrait photography, techniques, direction and lighting, is enjoyable not only because I get to share my joy for this expressive profession, but also because it enables me to self-reflect on how something works, and why I choose it. I enjoy inspiring photographers to create thought-provoking portraiture of their own by incorporating my professional techniques honed over years in the business. This in turn enables them to hone and develop their own skills, whether amateur or professional, working with both the latest equipment and amazing professional models.
Learning and Development via Rory Lewis Photography throughout 2015 has been partnered with Calumet Photographic. I have taken great pleasure delivering seminars throughout their network of branches. I have also enjoyed leading Calumet’s official Blog, reviewing equipment and writing about tips and techniques. I was thrilled to be asked to judge Calumet’s Student Photographer of the Year Competition. It was an honour to help select the winner of this prestigious prize which was presented at the Photography Show.
Building on my desire to ‘spread the word’ both within the field of Photography and to a wider audience, 2015 has seen me publish two books: Portraitist and Expressive. The first sees me passing on my thoughts surrounding Photographic Portraiture by offering lighting techniques and the stories behind my many, and varied, Portrait Sittings. Expressive is my first coffee table book, designed to be perused and dipped in to showcasing some of my favourite Portrait Sittings from the year including Brent Spiner, Steven Berkoff, Andy Robinson, Robert Picardo and many other renowned male thespians.
Additionally, I have enjoyed having both my images and reviews of my work published in several magazines and trade editorials including Photo Professional Magazine, the RPS London, Profoto’s Blog, and Photo Plus magazine (Above). I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing my latest work, tricks, and techniques with such a diverse readership base. My work has also been acquired by newspapers and editorials through Image Syndication, it was fun and rewarding to see my portraits of Luis Suarez (Below) in the Shortlist Magazine, and my image of Sir Ian McKellen in the Mirror.
2016 looks set to be another exciting year. I will be returning to Los Angeles for a month in April to undertake more Portrait Sittings. Fuelling my Trekkie passions I have started another Project looking to exhibit portraits of Star Trek actors in order to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the show. Through using a Kickstarter to help fund the project, I have raised over £2500 enabling me to devote more time in 2016 to additional Star Trek actor sittings, including one with Walter Koenig who played Chekov, as well as many other names from the TV series and movies.
2016 is also going to be the year I look to expand my Portrait Practice in London. Building a growing reputation for Portraiture in the capital is my number-one goal for the forthcoming year. Of course, my devotion to Learning and Development will continue with tours of both the UK and USA offering Portrait Photography Masterclasses and One-to-One tuition.
Wherever and however you run into Rory Lewis Photography in 2016, you can be sure that something exciting is afoot. Wishing all my supporters and followers a very Happy New year, with 2016 set to be even bigger and momentous than my thoroughly enjoyable 2015.