We are pleased to announce that a portrait of British Army Soldier Warrant Officer Class 2 Deborah Penny captured by Rory Lewis Photographer November 2017 in London, has been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery London. Deborah serving 30 years in the British Army’s Royal Logistic Corps as a Bomb disposal expert; made Army history as the first transgender Soldier to serve in the front line. The Portrait captured as part of Rory Lewis Exhibition Soldiery British Army Portraits, represents Lewis’s SEVENTH National Portrait Gallery Acquisition.
“The British Army is a wonderfully diverse organisation and I’m pleased that my portrait has helped to recognise a true British Army Hero. Deborah will take her rightful place in the National Portrait Gallery’s perminant collection.”
Founded in 1856, the aim of the National Portrait Gallery, London is ‘to promote through the medium of portraits the appreciation and understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture, and …to promote the appreciation and understanding of portraiture in all media. It is an absolute honour to have SEVEN of my Portraits included in the collection.
Over the next few week’s I’ll be posting all the VC & GC recipients in a series of Blog Posts. Here is my Eighth post in the series, recipient Bill Speakman VC. (View Full Series of Posts).
“I was The Queen’s first VC”
Speakman was born and brought up in Altrincham, Cheshire and educated at Wellington school. He was 24 years old and a private in the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment), British Army, attached to the 1st Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers during the Korean War when the following deed took place at United Hill, for which he was awarded the VC.
On 4 November 1951 in Korea, when the section holding the left shoulder of the company’s position had been seriously depleted by casualties and was being overrun by the enemy, Speakman, on his own initiative, collected six men and a pile of grenades and led a series of charges. He broke up several enemy attacks, causing heavy casualties and in spite of being wounded in the leg continued to lead charge after charge. He kept the enemy at bay long enough to enable his company to withdraw safely.
Although his award was made by King George VI, Speakman was the first VC invested by Queen Elizabeth II. He later achieved the rank of sergeant and served in Malaya (with the Special Air Service), Borneo and Radfan.
Pleased to announce that a Portrait of British Army Soldier Sergeant Seeto, captured as part of Rory Lewis Soldiery British Army Portraits Exhibition. Entered into the British Life Photography Awards has received a commendation.
The Awards are a showcase of contemporary and imaginative images that capture the essence and spirit of British life. Winners and commended entrants will have their work on show at the Royal Albert Hall, Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar, and be included in a full colour book.
Christmas is on the horizon and I’ve received several calls and emails from Armed Forces Personnel and their families, asking if I offer Military Portrait Sittings. The answer is of course yes. Ever since my Soldiery British Army Portraits Exhibition. I’ve worked with members of the British Army for over two years capturing portraits for a Nationwide Exhibition. My unique style of portraiture is highly sought after by members of all three services, The Royal Navy, Royal Airforce and the British Army and I’m offering a wonderful Portrait Photoshoot Gift Voucher. Available in at my studio in Central London and across studios the UK in Leeds, Liverpool and Edinburgh.
£264.00 (Including Framed & Mounted
Print) Portrait Sitting
Two Uniform Changes
250 Images Presented VIA Digital Download
Two Fully Retouched Portraits Presented Digitally
ONE Portrait Printed, Professionally Framed and Mounted A3 Size
(Full Booking Details Sent With Gift Voucher)
Based in London Rory Lewis is the UK’s foremost Military Portraitist Photographer, who is regularly commissioned to photograph high profile Military Officers for all three branches of the Military Army, RAF & Royal Navy. Portraits are very important to military personal, to be captured in Uniform looking ones best and in full finery can fill one with pride for the service. Rory Lewis Photographer offers a comprehensive service to Members of the Armed Forces, RAF, Royal Navy and Army who are looking to capture a professional portrait. Available at studios in Central London, Edinburgh and in Central Liverpool.
Portraiture is Rory’s speciality, he is just as comfortable working with High Ranking Officers as I am with NCO’s and Enlisted Personnel, and you will find my friendly and professional approach helps put even the most photo-phobic at ease.
Portrait of Britain is presented by British Journal of Photography. Photographer Rory Lewis portrait of Captain Anani-Isaac of The Royal Lancers. Captured for Soldiery (British Army Portraits), has been selected to appear in a Nationwide Exhibition. Shortlisted from 8000 entires, 100 Portraits of the exhibition will go live on Friday 1st September 2017. Portrait of Britain is being billed as the UK’s biggest exhibition of portraiture. Being exhibited across JCDecaux’s nationwide screens, appearing in public places throughout the UK. Limited Edition Prints are also on sale via the Portrait of Britain Website.
Simon Bainbridge, editorial director of the British Journal of Photography, said: “The portraits celebrate the unique heritage and diversity of modern Britain, as much as its thriving photography culture and the myriad styles and approaches they employ in their work. Yet, as much as our tribal allegiances are on show in many of the photographs, each image reminds us that, above all, we are a nation of individuals.”
There are currently nine regular cavalry regiments of the British Army, of these two serve as armoured regiments, three as armoured cavalry regiments, three as light cavalry and one as a mounted ceremonial regiment. Soldiery has given me the opportunity to work with seven of these nine Regiments. Namely, The Household Cavalry, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Queens Royal Hussars, Kings Royal Hussars, Royal Tank Regiment, The Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeths’ Own) and The Light Dragoons.
They are probably the most famous of the mounted soldiers, symbolic due to their Buckingham Palace connections. The Household Cavalry now drive and operate both heavy and light tanks, and various other vehicles into battle. This is a Cavalry juxtaposing the old with the new; the ceremony with the duty.
When visiting Household Mechanised in Windsor, I was presented with the diversely mechanical contrast of the regiment. The Troopers I had seen parading in Knightsbridge, now have a duel role as both ceremonial soldiers and modern mechanised cavalry. Now I was photographing, reconnaissance light tank gunners and drivers, as well as armed troopers, and snipers.
Photographing these troops required meeting them on home turf, which in their case is both Knightsbridge and Windsor. The portraits needed to reflect these distinctions as well as allowing for the notable differences of technique in photographing mounted soldiers. Focusing on The Lifeguards and the Blues and Royal, I captured the soldiers mounted in their distinguished uniform. Conducting these portraits, whilst also witnessing the Guard Mount with its 350-year-long ceremonial history, was sharply in contrast with photographing the mechanised troops of the regiment.
They are the oldest and most senior regiments in the British Army split between two different units equipped to perform two quite different roles. The Household Cavalry Regiment (HCR) is an Armoured Cavalry regiment of the British Army based at Combermere Barracks in Windsor. It is the brother regiment of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR) based at Hyde Park Barracks in London – both regiments together form the Household Cavalry. The regiment presented me with a challenge, with the opportunity to capture both the Ceremonial Household Mounted Regiment, as well as the Armoured Cavalry Regiment. Both grooms of horses and armoured vehicles.
Being based in Hyde Park, must be a remarkable experience for a young soldier, given your own horse and stationed right the centre of Knightsbridge. Riding out into Hyde Park each day must be a remarkable experience. In contrast they then transfer to the modern, cavalry regimental Barracks in Windsor, employed for more modern military duties. My sitting with the Household Mounted Regiment in Hyde Park, gave me the opportunity to view the Guard Mount, those troopers charged with guarding the Queens Official Residence and the Horse Guards.
The Guard Mount occurs daily 365 days per year without fail. The Household Cavalry serve as the Queen’s official bodyguard. More than 350 Horses are occupants of the barracks, and it’s remarkable to see all the traditions of the regiment maintained. The uniforms of the Blues and Royals are remarkable to behold. When on duty soldiers wear the distinctive metal helmets, with a long plume of horses hair hanging on top, not seen on many other types of soldiers.
The Blues and Royals is the only regiment in the British Army to allow troopers and non-commissioned officers, when not wearing headdress, to salute an officer. The custom was started after the Battle of Warburg in 1760 by the Marquess of Granby, who commanded both the Royal Horse Guards and the Royal Dragoons. These were separate units at the time. During the battle, the Marquess had driven French forces from the field, losing both his hat and wig during the charge. When reporting to his commander, Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, in the heat of the moment he is said to have saluted without wearing his headdress, having lost it earlier. When the Marquess of Granby became the Colonel of the Blues, the regiment adopted this tradition.
When the Household Cavalry mounts an escort to the Sovereign on State occasions, a ceremonial axe with a spike is carried by a Farrier Corporal of Horse, which I managed to capture. The historical reason behind this is when a horse was wounded or injured so seriously it could not be treated, its suffering was ended by killing it with the spike. The axe is also a reminder of the days when the Sovereign’s escorts accompanied royal coaches when English roads were very bad. Horses often fell, becoming entangled in their harnesses and having to be freed with the cut of an axe. It’s also said in those times, if a horse had to be killed its rider had to bring back a hoof, cut off with the axe. This proved to the Quartermaster the animal was dead and hence preventing fraudulent replacement. Today, the axe remains as a symbol of the Farrier’s duties.
From The Household Cavalry I moved onto The Royal Lancers, to focus on wonderful ceremonial dress, and an experience to relish. Lt. General Everard, himself of the Royal Lancers, had conveyed the Regiment’s History. There was also a personal connection, with my Brother-in-Law having served in the Regiment. The Regiment was formed following the amalgamation of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’s) and The Queen’s Royal Lancers on the 2nd May 2015. The Regiment has close family ties as my Brother In Law served in the 9th/12th during the Gulf War. General Everard, who helped to organise the sittings was former colonel of the Queen’s Royal Lancers, and it seemed fitting these sittings would be of interested to both.
The regiment is indeed iconic, with the Skull and Crossbones of the Queens Royal Lancers on each cap badge. The Regiment’s motto is ‘Death or Glory’. The Royal Lancers history stretches back more than 300 years, including Dragoons, Hussars and finally Lancers. The regiment’s distinctive cap-badge features the crossed lances with pennons of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers, and the Death’s head of The Queen’s Royal Lancers.
The Death’s Head originates from the coat of arms of General Wolfe, in whose memory the 17th Light Dragoons were formed. One of Wolfe’s ablest commanders and close personal friend, was Colonel John Hale of the 47th Regiment of Foot. It fell to Col. Hale to bring back to the King, the mixed news of victory over the French paid for in part with the death of Wolfe.
In thanks to the role of Hale, the King granted him a commission to raise one of the five new regiments of Light Dragoons, being planned as part of preparations for the Seven Years War. With a rich and varied history, the modern Lancer regiments have fought in every major conflict of the last three centuries, and its soldiers are rightly proud of this heritage.
The Regiment has moved on from stables and horses, now being armoured cavalry soldiers instead. This armoured cavalry are now the frontline reconnaissance soldiers of the British Army. These soldiers are trained to operate in advance of lead combat units, specially prepared to deploy early in any combat. Their crucial role is to deliver up-to-date and accurate information and intelligence about the enemy, in order to shape and aid the relevant commander’s decision making process.
Rather pirate-like, but in far greater esteem, the Regimental badge of the Royal Lancers depicts a Skull and Crossbones, containing the words ‘OR GLORY’. This is a somewhat pertinent motto depicting the strength of character forming the tradition and history, making the British Army unique. Staggeringly, The Royal Lancers can in fact trace their lineage as far back as the Battle of the Boyne, American Independence, and the Napoleonic Wars.
From here to The Light Dragoons in Catterick where, once again, the horse of olden day Cavalry has been replaced by an armed vehicle – this time going by the name of Jackal. The Cavalry portraits still needed extending and broadening, so it was on to the Queen’s Royal Hussars in Paderborn, Germany, as well as the Royal Tank Regiment in Tidworth. Here, there was the opportunity to capture the powerful Challenger II Battle Tank, as well as the troopers who man this titan of a vehicle.
The Royal Tank Regiment is the oldest tank unit in the world, forged out of the adversity of the First World War. The regiment is equipped with Challenger 2 tanks and based at Tidworth. Soldiers of RTR wear a black beret and black overalls, a custom reserved to the Regiment unlike any other tank regiment in the British Army. A black beret was selected as it would not show oil stains. I felt quite at home as many of the soldiers of the Regiment appeared to be from Liverpool. In essence the regiment appeared to be half Liverpudlian and half Glaswegian. Two peoples of a similar sense of humour, the soldiers regiment seemed to get along swimmingly. Again I had the chance to photograph the Soldiers posing with the Powerful Challenger 2 Battle Tank, and create a series of remarkable portraits of all the regiments states of dress.
Based in Tidworth, Wiltshire, The King’s Royal Hussars is a British armoured regiment with a long history and great cavalry traditions. The regiment currently serves in the armoured role, equipped with Challenger 2 tanks. The regiment wears the iconic crimson trousers when in ceremonial, No. 1 or No, 2 dress. As you notice from the portrait the soldiers wear the crossed kukri of the Gurkhas as an arm badge. This relates back to 1945 when C Squadron, 14th/20th King’s Hussars assaulted the town of Medicina in Italy alongside the 2nd Battalion, 6th Gurkha Rifles, inflicting heavy losses on the German defenders despite being outnumbered. In commemoration of this action the 14th/20th King’s Hussars adopted the crossed kukri badge, a tradition maintained by the regiment.
My inspiration of the portrait, came from a portrait by Emanuel Leutze, an American Portraitist. Who painted, Washington Crossing the Delaware. My subjects, the Commanding Officer Colonel Porter and the two-highest ranking NCO’s posed, as poised for battle. Carrying the regimental Guidon with pride, just as Washington is depicted profile, tall, and with the Star- Spangled Banner behind him.
My final Cavalry Regiment of the Soldiery Project and a trip to Scotland, Fife to be exact. Was to photograph the Troopers of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys) – or SCOTSDG – was formed in 1971 by an amalgamation between 3rd Carabiniers and The Royal Scots Greys. The Regiment has been deployed in numerous operations around the world in the forty- five years which have followed. Having served in Northern Ireland, the Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, three tours in Iraq and three tours in Afghanistan, SCOTSDG is a cavalry Regiment with wide operational experience.
One of those troopers who sat for a portrait. Sergeant Keith Mitchell a recipient of The Military Cross. Risked his life to save wounded comrades in Afghanistan was commended for his “courage and selflessness” under re. He stood in open ground to draw enemy re away from his colleagues in an attack in Helmand in March of 2012. It was an honour to meet Sergeant Mitchell, who also gave me a tour of the Barracks and the incredible artefacts the regiment has acquired through their bravery.
Soldiery as a project, has given me the opportunity to indulge my historical ambitions. One of these creative urges has been to photograph a British Field Marshal.
Field Marshal is the most senior rank of the British Army. Higher than all the Generals I’ve captured thus far. Considered a five star rank in today’s modern militaries. In the British Army, Field Marshal has been the most senior rank since 1736.
Since the end of Empire, the rank has become somewhat redundant, this is due to the reduction in the size of Britain’s Armed Forces. The rank is now ceremonial, a gift of recognition from the sovereign to senior military figures, and bestowed on members of the Royal Family.
I wrote to several Field Marshal’s and to my delight a reply, Field Marshal The Lord Guthrie accepted my invitation to sit for a Portrait in London.
Field Marshal Guthrie, Baron Guthrie of Craigiebank, GCB, LVO, OBE, DL was Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, from 1994 to 1997 and Chief of the Defence Staff from 1997 until his retirement in 2001.
Guthrie’s military career saw service with the Welsh Guards and the Special Air Service; he was closely involved in military operations in Northern Ireland and provided advice to the British Government during the Bosnian War and the Kosovo War.
In 2012 Lord Guthrie was handed his Field Marshal’s Baton, in recognition of his remarkable leadership and service by Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II . You can view a Pathe News Clip of another Field Marshal Jan Smuts being handed his Baton back in 1941.
(Below Field Marshals Baton Presented to Field Marshal Jan Smuts OM, CH, ED, PC, KC, FRS)
The Baton is the main symbol of office, only given to Field Marshals. It stems back to ancient origins; namely those of the Roman Empire. A short heavy white Baton was a symbol of the Imperial Mandate given to Roman Military Legates. The Legate would hold the baton upon high, proclaiming, “above your head and mine to represent the power of the emperor”.
The British Field Marshal’s Baton is a symbol of the magnitude of office. The figure of St George and the Dragon is at the top, and at the bottom an inscription from The Queen to Lord Guthrie. The body of the Baton is covered with red velvet.
Looking for inspiration I started with Sir Thomas Lawrence, studying his portraits of the Duke of Wellington. Neo Classical in Style; Lawrence painted the Iron Duke on several occasions. His most vivid depiction, a triumphant portrait of Wellington which dominates the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle. Lawrence’s composition is that of victory, heralding Wellington as the finest of military commanders and the liberator of Europe.
Then I moved on to looking at Singer Sargent’s portrait of Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts. The work similar to Sir Thomas Lawrence’s neo-classical depictions. I turned to photography, browsing the National Portrait Gallery archive, I discovered the photographer Alexander Bassano, who photographed Field Marshal Hague. The portrait captured in a solemn and dutiful style, the depictions relay the finery, yet the obligation and commitment of Hague’s role.
With all this in mind I set to work, with a desire to create my own interpretation. Using a red velvet backdrop, I aimed to recreate the symbolism of the fire and blood, that is the Red Coat. The British Military Uniform associated with energy, war, danger, strength and Royal power. These words associate with the office of Field Marshal. Full finery was the order of the day, medals, orders, and number one dress uniform. Wanting to portray Lord Guthrie as the man he is; the Commander held in immense regard.
The positions directed for the sitting are reflective, shooting from a low angle to make Lord Guthrie look prominent and tall. Harsh lighting is utilised to preserve the detail. To me the Portrait is historical , a document, all the detail must be safeguarded. With this in mind I hope I’ve done my predecessors, proud in this my first portrait sitting with a British Field Marshal. Currently I’m accepting public & private commissions both Military and Non Military for Portrait Sittings so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
A company of the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry took up the temporary role of mounting the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace last month. The honour usually falls to the British Army’s Household Division. However, other Commonwealth Nations get a chance at protecting the Queen every now and again. Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry is based in Shilo, Manitoba, Canada. Named after Princess Patricia of Connaught, daughter of the then-Governor General of Canada. Contacting the regiment upon their arrival in London. I arranged a series of portrait sittings with the company at Wellington Barracks, before they mounted the Queens Guard. The sitting gave me the chance to record living History, Canadian Regiments rarely appear in London for state duties.
The 2PPCLI uniforms differ slightly to British Soldiers, especially their helmets. They are called Pith helmets, and the choice of helmet style comes down to historical precedent specific to each regiment. You may also notice that the helmets the officers wear are entirely white, while the non-commissioned members have a coloured fabric on theirs. In the case of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, that colour is ‘French Grey’ which is the colour of the Third Canadian Division.
Accustomed to photographing British Soldiers for my ‘Soldiery Portrait Exhibition‘ it was refreshing to work with a Canadian Regiment. A real pleasure to work with the chaps. Its true what they say, Canadians are among the most polite people in the world.
Thank you to everyone who attended the open evening of Soldiery (British Army Portraits) at the historical Athenaeum Club in Liverpool. The evening held in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund raised over £2500.00 for the charity, which helps veterans and their families in need of support. I was delighted to show the work to the public for the first time. Many of those who sat for portraits where also in attendance.
The exhibition began with a talk about the work, followed by a speech by the projects patron General Sir James Everard, KCB, CBE. I’m now looking forward to taking the work to London, for a full public exhibition at the National Army Museum. If you missed the event, don’t worry the evening was captured on video, please take a look at below.