Two years in the making my Book “Portraitist” is now on-sale. Portraitist, brings together a retrospective of portraits; along with a comprehensive guide, including diagrams on how to create stunning portraiture of your own.
Portraitist passes on years of expertise, working with some of the worlds most famous acting talent, such as Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart, David Warner and many more.
Portraitist is available on Amazon £15.99 and available at all good book stores.
William Hague is a British Conservative politician who was the MP for Richmond from 1989 to 2015. He also served as Leader of the House of Commons from 2014 to 2015 and as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2010 to 2014. He was the Leader of Conservative Party from 1997 until Iain Duncan Smith took over the position in 2001.
Until this point, I had longed for the chance to work with a truly significant British historical character. William Hague’s name is synonymous with modern political discourse, but to meet him in person, you would not think it.
He is a very witty man who was reeling jokes off through the entire sitting. I was pleasantly surprised with how well he held himself for the portrait, so well in fact that the finished frame is very reminiscent of a Holbein piece – dignified and full of grace and authority.
Images where taken with my medium format Mamiya 645DF, Leaf Credo 40 & 100mm Mamiya Leaf Sekor AF 110mm f/2.8 LS D & 80mm f/2.8 LS D. Thank you to Calumet Photographic for supporting the Photoshoot.
The difference a year makes: Generals, Actors, Sports Personalities and Politicians. Photographing the essence of character.
Portraiture is now the name of my game: 2014 has certainly been an incredible journey of discovery and growth as well as artistic truth and relevance. I feel refreshed in my work and have enjoyed the wonderful success of the last 12 months, I’m looking forward to the ‘onwards and upwards’ both professionally and personally – these are exciting times for Rory Lewis Photography. Thank you to my wife, family and colleagues for their support as I’ve made these developments. The beauty of an artist is the ability to experiment and ‘play’. I have been more determined than ever to realise this – that through experimentation I can learn, and most importantly deliver at a higher level. In the continual bid to hone my own Unique Style I am continually refining my ideas, my inspiration and my direction. Beginning the year with a ‘make or break’ attitude having spent too long spreading myself too thinly professionally and knowing something had to change. 2014 has been that year, seeing a more balanced but more worthwhile focus, by concentrating on where my passion lies – Portraiture.
I was ecstatic when my Portrait of Actor David Warner was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in London. I built on this public recognition of my work by having a wide range of Celebrity Portrait Sessions throughout the year. Expansion was essential, no longer am I just to be found in the North West UK, but in both London and New York. Back in 2004, when I began my career in Fashion Photography, it was the way forward, the path to photography and career success. I enjoyed the recognition of publication, in magazines, newspapers and catalogues, often being called upon by various Fashion Labels to photography their collection. But with maturity and artistic credibility, I gradually fell out of love with the ‘easy’ road. It no longer sits easily on my personal character, and the discomfort grew as I was struggling to be myself in what I felt was an elitist superficial world of photography. I was failing to be true to myself, my personality, and importantly, my artistic style. Artistically I wanted my work to be a reflection of reality, a mirror of truth.
This led me to real people leading real lives and portraying them in a real way. I can become absorbed in the story of someone and relish the challenge of reflecting their emotions and character through Portraiture. So farewell Fashion Photographing, and welcome to Portraiture, of Generals, Actors, Artists, Sports Personalities, and Politicians.
I began to conceive the idea of my Northern Portrait Exhibition very early in the year and was thrilled with its ultimate success. Northerners started out as a small local project yet soon became a National Exhibition featuring actors, sports personalities, artists and politicians from the North. A blend of story, history and personality, drawn together by Northern Roots, now transcending the globe, offered an opportunity to travel to bring this unique collection together. Big names, big characters, big achievements such as Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Craig Charles, Emma Rigby, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, and many other prominent figures.
This was a truly fascinating project. Sponsored by Calumet Photographic and held in aid of the worthwhile cause UNICEF, the exhibition moved from Liverpool in July, to Manchester in October, and finally to London in November. The project was not only a developmental and artistic learning curve for me, but led to me feeling more comfortable in my own Unique Style, and this is now reflected in my work. I was thrilled when the BBC, various other television companies and the National Press all featured the Project giving the project not just local, but national recognition.
For clients such as Pepsi, I have enjoyed a wide range of Commercial Photography assignments, which have included Portraiture such as a commission to photograph successful and advertorial big-name footballer, Luis Suarez. Knowing that Rory Lewis images are being used in such high profile promotional campaigns, including posters as well as drinks bottles and cans, has been a fun and enjoyable part of my year. With the brief to create fierce portraits blended with Rock Star Style stills, I couldn’t wait to get started. It was an opportunity to direct and create a shoot in tune with my artistic desires
Travel has been an inevitable, but enjoyable, by-product of the shift in my photographic direction. My passport has been ranking up the miles with trips to Spain, Morocco, Italy, New York, Ireland and the USA. Good Old Blighty is home, but these trips have been enriching and given my work influence both cultural and socially. Take a quick peek at some of my travel snaps here.
On a personal level I haven’t just seen a seismic shift in the nature of my work and my creative style, but 2014 has been a year of highs as it was also the year I married my incredible wife, Alexandra, who has supported and nurtured my professional change. Still based in Liverpool despite spreading my wings, this year also brought the opportunity to extend my home-grown roots by opening my new Photographic Studio in the heart of Liverpool.
2014 saw a continuation of my desire to offer Photography Workshops. A key joy for any creative person is to share and nurture a passion in others. I am grateful to be able to do this, whilst partnered with Calumet Academy, as well as extending the locations of my Courses to additionally include not only Liverpool, but London, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast. Wherever you are in the UK, Rory Lewis Photography Courses can be there! I enjoy imparting what I have learned and discovered to others: from lighting techniques to directional skills, it really is a joy to work with aspiring photographers, and the feedback has been nice to hear too! It’s been good for my ego, knowing I can use my skill and self-development to help develop others. I’ll be forever grateful for reviews such as the following from Amateur Photographer Denis Dame who attended one of my Portraiture Workshops:
“Rory is a fantastic and patient instructor and answered all our questions no matter how basic or advanced. I took nearly 400 images throughout the day and was mentally drained and excited because we covered so much. A fantastic value for the amount of hands-on course work and topics we covered. Rory was able to get us all taking great images.
I have been an amateur photographer for years, but this was my first time using studio lighting for portraits with models. I had expected only one model, but Rory had hired three fantastic models. All had their own great characteristics, which allowed us to experiment with lighting to see the effects given different facial features. Rory demonstrated the use of several one and two light set-ups, and allowed us to take several images from each. Additionally, we used different back drops, and reflectors. We had hands-on opportunities to use a light meter and set up the studio lights to the proper power and distance. We learned about how to diffuse the lighting and control it with a honeycomb.
He also demonstrated how he captured many famous actors that are a part of his Northerners Portrait Project to support UNICEF. A noble effort. We were able to create similar images during the course.
We learned how to work with models and direct them to help create amazing images and moods. By the end of the course we all had gained confidence in working with good models.
I would highly recommend the course to people that have never worked with models, or studio lights. If you have worked with models and were not quite sure how to direct the scene, then this is also a great course.
Well done and I hope to take another class in the near future.”
So here’s to 2015 and my onwards and upwards! I am looking forward to extending my programme of courses to make them more extensive whilst focusing on my true love of Portraiture, from Beginners, to Intermediate, as well as a course in advanced Location Portraiture Lighting. You’ll still find me offering Art Nude Photography Courses, with a special Hasselblad Art Nude Session, allowing delegates to try out the superb Hasselblad H5D Camera System, an opportunity not to be missed.
Whilst also arranging photoshoots with models, dancers and actors throughout 2014, I’ve loved the new creative and practical expansion and vision of Rory Lewis Photography. From helping new models and actors find their first footings in their chosen fields. I’m glad to still be the photographer of choice for many of the UK’s top agencies. I’ve come to learn that I can still be true to myself in all shoots by offering a comprehensive service based on high quality pictures achieved through my no-time-limit ethos. My clients are not rushed, nor do they receive a hard sell, just good honest portraiture at its best. From sessions with Game of Thrones actors, screen legends Julian Glover and Iain Glen, to the industry newbies, my heart now truly resides in Portraiture.
See you in 2015, but before I go, take a sneak peek at my new Exhibition Expressive that will take place at the end of the year. Whether Stateside or on home turf, I look forward to seeing you there.
Subliminally, without really knowing, we’re all exposed to art – as well as impressions – that shape our unconscious and our ability to think, perceive and feel. As we move through life, art that was once a staple of our history books takes on a greater meaning, and perhaps this is none more true than for Renaissance Art and our assimilation with it as being what portraiture with power is about. The essence of the best portrait photography is mirrored in these Renaissance pieces. For me this is especially true of the Tudor Portrait Artist Hans Holbein ‘the Younger’.
In the works of Holbein lies the heart of my portraiture inspiration. I loved history as a child, its permanence and transience all at once, reflected through the eyes of cultural and societal change, how it has been documented and therefore how it is recalled. I was fortunate to live near to Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery, a treasure trove of pieces that began to unconsciously inspire and challenge me. The Gallery exhibits several of Holbein’s Works, which reflect not only the Renaissance period but exude a timeless quality as records of history.
With Holbein we gaze upon solemn yet intensely powerful expression. His subjects are painted as though frozen in that moment in time, the essence of their being, authority and personality captured forever from that one moment. Holbein took his interpretation of his sitters seriously, knowing they were the testaments of time, and this has inspired me to adapt a similar style for my own Photographic Portraiture.
My work calls me to photograph many high-profile corporate individuals and political figures, and over time I am continually drawn to Holbein’s influence in my own interpretations of the subject of portraiture. I believe Holbein’s style and timeless authority easily sits alongside the modern portrait – I aim to imbue my viewers with the same thought provocation that he succeeded in creating.
Detail, in the eye of an artist, is everything. As a viewer you don’t realise how the tiny intricacies of art combine to leave you with a bigger picture, a bigger sense. For Holbein, his portrait of Sir Thomas More illustrates this ability to focus on detail. There are the slightest imperfections that reflect in themselves perfect definition, making it appear almost like a photograph itself. There is no Renaissance ‘air-brushing’ away of imperfections, there is no place in portraiture for the Death of Real. What you see is a true likeness of the subject at that moment in time. Real is everything – it is the tiniest of imperfections that define a person as the character they are. This can be seen in my portrait of Sir Patrick Stewart where I encouraged and captured the true facial tones and imperfections, capturing the essence of the man, just as Holbein did with More.
Objectivity is crucial in portraiture: for Holbein and for me. The outward appearance of his subjects directly reflects the inner character, personality and mood without an over-layering or obscuring of this essential essence by the artist himself. I endeavour to follow this same style, bringing an integrity to the final portrait that allows the viewer to reflect on their own opinion and understanding of what they see.
Having worked in fashion photography, I know and understand the drive to create perfection that renders an image false. In portraiture, Holbein teaches us, it is the imperfections that make perfection. Models are directed on what to be, how to act, how to represent emotion: for portraiture this is simply wrong. A true representation and a guiding and directing to the true inner person is what makes a portrait thought-provoking and an accurate historical record that exudes timeless quality.
The greatest collection of Holbein’s work is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London. His works provide inspirations to historians, art-lovers and passers-by alike. His viewers are drawn to a naturally level-playing field that allows interpretation and true-understanding. It’s this timeless quality I seek to recreate and learn from.
Working with Politicians has always been an exciting prospect for me, and this Month Mayor Joe Anderson Sat for an Official Portrait at my Liverpool Studio. Joe being the first Executive Mayor of Liverpool I wanted to present him as a leader, bold, approachable and determined.