One of the most challenging sittings of my career, I was recently commissioned to capture a portrait of former Prime Minister David Cameron. Serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2016. Brexit has been a challenging time in British Politics, resulting in David Cameron’s resignation. There is a great deal of tension in the UK about Brexit and very mixed feelings about David Cameron as a modern figure in history. I’m no stranger to photographing political figures and former world leaders, having been commissioned last year to photographer former Prime Minister Sir John Major.
I began by looking at other portrait photographers representations of Mr Cameron. I found myself wanting, not many stood out to me as a portraitist. Was this due to him being a difficult sitter?
My idea was to capture Mr Cameron as a meditative Statesmen. Brexit has left the UK in very uncertain times, and I wanted to seek inspiration from a portraitist who had recorded political figures during a period of uncertainty. Researching all the greats, I found Sir James Guthrie. Guthrie was a Scottish painter, best known in his own lifetime for his portraiture, although today more generally regarded as a painter of Scottish Realism. Sir James received a commission to paint portraits of all those statesmen who had served in office during the First World War.
Of all his depictions two sketch studies really stood out, the first that of Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith 1852 – 1928, a British statesman and Liberal Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. The second of William Ferguson Massey, 1856 – 1925. Prime Minister of New Zealand. The First World War indeed a very trying period in British History. Guthrie, sketched Asquith and Massey in a very complex and meditative state, almost reflecting on the past and career’s as heads of state.