Queensland Musuem Dan Keighran VC

On the 10th November 2018, the Queensland Musuem, South Brisbane Australia has launched a new Anzac Legacy Gallery. Examining the First World War as a catalyst for change in the state. The first half of the exhibition focuses on the War, but the second is about Queensland since the War. Including several contemporary  military service stories. These stories, include the very brave Corporal Dan Keighran VC. Back in 2016 I captured Dan’s portrait in London as part of my Victoria and George Cross Project. The museum approached me a few months ago, requesting to feature the portrait in the exhibition. I was delighted to accept their offer, as a  wonderful opportunity opened up to show my work in Australia for the first time. You can view Dan’s Victoria Cross citation below and a few snaps of the installation sent to me by the Museum’s Senior Curator Liz Bissell.

 

(Limtied Edition Prints fo Dan Keighran VC’s portrait also available on the below link). 

 

Daniel Alan Keighran VC Portrait Rory Lewis Photographer 2016

Daniel Alan Keighran VC Portrait Rory Lewis Photographer 2016

Dan Keighran VC Citation,


For the most conspicuous acts of gallantry and extreme devotion to duty in action in circumstances of great peril at Derapet, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, as part of the Mentoring Task Force One on Operation SLIPPER.

 

Corporal Keighran deployed to Afghanistan in February 2010 with the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. On 24 August 2010, Corporal Keighran was a member of a partnered fighting patrol with soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 205th (Hero) Corps, which was engaged by a numerically superior and coordinated enemy attack from multiple firing points in three separate locations. The attack was initiated by a high volume of sustained and accurate machine-gun and small-arms fire which pinned down the combined Australian and Afghan patrol and caused a loss of momentum.

 

In the early stages of the attack, and upon realising that the forward elements of the patrol needed effective fire support, Corporal Keighran and another patrol member moved under sustained and accurate enemy fire to an exposed ridgeline to identify enemy locations and direct the return fire of both Australian and Afghan machine guns. On reaching this position and with complete disregard for his own wellbeing, Corporal Keighran deliberately drew enemy fire by leaving the limited cover he had and moved over the ridgeline in order to positively identify targets for the machine gunners of the combined patrol. After identifying some of the enemy firing positions, Corporal Keighran, under persistent enemy fire continued to lead and mentor his team and move around the ridge to both direct the fire of the Afghan and Australian machine gunners and to move them to more effective firing positions.

 

As the intensity of enemy fire grew, Corporal Keighran returned to the crest of the ridgeline to identify targets and adjust the fire of Australian Light Armoured Vehicles. His actions resulted in the effective suppression of enemy firing points, which assisted in turning the fight in the favour of the combined patrol. Moving to a new position, Corporal Keighran deliberately and repeatedly again exposed himself to heavy enemy fire to assist in target identification and the marking of the forward line of troops for fire support elements whilst simultaneously engaging the enemy. Realising that the new position provided a better location for the patrol’s joint fire controller, Corporal Keighran moved over 100 metres across exposed parts of the ridgeline, attracting a high volume of accurate enemy fire, to locate and move the fire controller to the new position. He then rose from cover again to expose his position on four successive occasions, each movement drawing more intense fire than the last in order to assist in the identification of a further three enemy firing points that were subsequently engaged by fire support elements. During one of these occasions, when his patrol sustained an Australian casualty, Corporal Keighran with complete disregard for his own safety, left his position of cover on the ridgeline to deliberately draw fire away from the team treating the casualty. Corporal Keighran remained exposed and under heavy fire while traversing the ridgeline, in order to direct suppressing fire and then assist in the clearance of the landing zone to enable evacuation of the casualty.

 

Corporal Keighran’s acts of the most conspicuous gallantry to repeatedly exposed himself to accurate and intense enemy fire, thereby placing himself in grave danger, ultimately enabled the identification and suppression of enemy firing positions by both Australian and Afghan fire support elements. These deliberate acts of exceptional courage in circumstances of great peril were instrumental in permitting the withdrawal of the combined Australian and Afghan patrol with no further casualties. His valour is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.


(Limtied Edition Prints fo Dan Keighran VC’s portrait also available on the below link). 

 

Military Portrait Sittings

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 PrintedProfessionally 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.

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.

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.

Soldiery – Capturing British Army Generals


One of my current projects is entitled ‘Soldiery’. It’s an exciting, interesting and challenging project in which I’m working in collaboration with the British Army to capture a truly unique collection of military portraiture.

 

Soldiery has taken a year to complete and has seen me visiting a dozen regiments from the Queen’s Royal Lancers, to the Household Cavalry, Gurkhas and Parachute Regiment. There have been over 250 portrait sittings that have seen me march the length and breadth of the country. Over this past year, I’ve been in military bases as far apart as Scotland’s Fort George in Inverness, to Catterick Yorkshire, Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards, the MOD Headquarters in Whitehall and Army Headquarters in Andover.

Kings Royal Hussars

The aim of Soldiery has been to capture the ‘greats’ of our military in a portrait collection which will serve as historical record of the British Army in the early 21st Century. This is living history, and includes several of the Army’s Generals and the senior staff of the British Army.

Major General Tim Robinson CBE

The Challenges 

I asked myself, as a humble civilian, how best to approach the portrait sittings. These figures are eminent people of stature and rank. What was the protocol? What style of portraiture would be best suited?

Lieutenant Colonel James Gaselee LG

Photographers are, in many ways, like a chameleon. We adapt to our environment as we are a facilitator. As you may know, my inspiration is often drawn from historical portrait paintings of the past. I went back to my roots, channelled my inner history buff, and began reminding myself of military paintings of the Napoleonic period. 

Very quickly I stumbled upon the works of the celebrated George Dawe. His style laid the foundations of my style for the project. With a staggering 342 portraits of Russian Generals to peruse I wasn’t short of inspiration. He was a busy and incredibly talented artist – in an 18 month period he had painted 80 Generals to be displayed at the Winter Palace having gained the commission during a tour of Europe with his Patrons the Duke and Duchess of Kent.

Alexander-Bibikov & Dmitry Levin George Daw Portrait Artist

Alexander-Bibikov & Dmitry Levin George Dawe Portrait Artist

George Dawe – Inspiration for Modern Military Portraiture 

From British shores, Dawe relocated to St Petersburg in 1819. He rapidly won acclaim for his work and also received complimentary poetry verses by Pushkin entitled ‘To Dawe Esq.’ His work is on display at the Hermitage in St Petersburg.  In fact, he became somewhat of a celebrity throughout Europe, mixing with the Russian intellectual elite, even gaining an invitation to the coronation of Nicholas I in 1826. By 1828 he had been officially appointed First Portrait Painter of the Imperial Court. 

For me, perusing his work, it’s the subject’s heroism and responsibility that left its mark. This is what I wanted to capture in my project with a lens, rather than a brush.

Alexander Balashov & Alexander Seslavin George Dawe Portrait Artist

Alexander Balashov & Alexander Seslavin George Dawe Portrait Artist

Military Sittings Began – Lt. General Mark Poffley

 First up was Lt. General Mark Poffley O.B.E at the M.O.D London Headquarters in White Hall. Poffley was commissioned into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in 1985 and has since served in the British Army for 31 years. He has been deployed in every major conflict in the past three decades from The Gulf War, Bosnian War, Insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia, War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War.

Lieutenant-General Mark Poffley, OBE

So began my aim to capture the General as a leader, an implacable Napoleonic Hero in Dawe’s inspirational style. Once the shoot was underway I requested the General to clutch his sword as I shot from a lower angle. With eyes to the camera I was able to direct, and capture, a fierce yet responsible expression.

General Sir James Everard KCB CBE

 

My second sitting took place with Lt General Sir James Everard Commander Army Land Forces, this time at Army Head Quarters in Andover. Everard is a veteran of many campaigns and has seen action in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq & Afghanistan. With Dawe’s inspiration at my fingertips I directed the General to pose profile allowing a full display of his medals and battle honours, with sword held close. I requested a responsible yet solemn expression looking to provoke the same thoughts in the viewers of my photographs as Dawe succeeded with his painting.

 

For historical recording, the sword is of critical importance. It is only part of the dress uniform for Generals who have received a 3-Star rank or above. The swords come from the Sovereign.

Lieutenant General James Bashall CBE

A tall and imposing man, Lt. General Bashall was photographed at the General’s Headquarters in Aldershot. The General is one of the British Army’s most veteran combat commanders, justifiably proud of his service with the Parachute Regiment.

In order to fully capture and capitalise upon the General’s stature, I opted for a half-length portrait. Key this time was to capture his ‘wings’, the symbol of the Paratroopers.

 

The Major-General commanding the Household Division commands the Household Division of the British Army. He is also General Officer Commanding London District. The Major- General has sole responsibility for the Service aspect of all State and ceremonial occasions within London District, having executive command of the Household Division and of any other units brought into London for ceremonial purposes and is the main channel of communication between the Household Division and the Monarch. He or she is appointed by The Queen, and will previously have commanded a Regiment or Battalion within the Household Division.

Major General Benjamin Bathurst CBE

The incumbent Major General Benjamin Bathurst CBE of the Welsh Guards, now occupies the role. The sitting took place at Horse Guards London. In the historic office, the Duke of Wellington once occupied, now used by the Major General of the Household Division. I couldn’t resist but to capture a portrait of Bathurst, sitting behind the desk once belonging to the Iron Duke.

 

It is known that the desk itself has been in the o ce of the Major- General since the late 1700s when the room was once known as the Courts Martial Room and then the Levee Room. It became the sole o ce of the Commander in Chief of the British Army sometime in the early 19th century. The desk itself was commissioned and purchased by Frederick Duke of York the second son of King George III, a truly historic sitting.

 

Major General Sanders is commander of the 3rd UK Division or ‘Iron Division’. It is the job of the Iron Division to respond to the call to field an army, whenever needed. The result is that General Sanders plays a crucial role as a combat commander. Previously a member of the Rifle Regiment, the General is no stranger to the field of combat. Direction this time involved instructing his eyes to focus on the camera with me shooting from a lower point. The result is a portrait capturing a powerful yet thoughtful figure.

Major General Patrick Sanders, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Major General Patrick Sanders, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Major General Susan Ridge is a senior British Army officer and lawyer. Since September 2015, she has been Director General of the Army Legal Services Branch (DGALS). She is the first woman to hold the rank of major general in the British Army.

Major General Susan Ridge

The final General of the collection was Major General Bob Bruce, commander of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. I needed to display tradition in this portrait with Bruce captured in his traditional Scottish uniform. Profile to camera enabled me to capture his regimental badge and his feather plume in all its glory. I used lighting techniques to separate him from the backdrop, creating a split of light on the unseen part of his facial profile.

Major General Bob Bruce

From these sittings with senior military figures I have learned a great deal about capturing leadership. I have found myself directing prominent individuals who are used to themselves giving direction to the men and women they command. I have relished the chance to take responsibility and ownership for these historical images of senior military leaders. These portraits will stand the test of time.

 

Relying once again on my confidence as a portrait photographer, I was able to bring to the sittings the direction needed to draw on Dawe’s inspiration. This confidence is key to any of my sittings, both military and in other fields where I need to capture leaders: from business to government.  Whilst Soldiery is complete, the lessons I’ve learned will follow through to all my future portrait sittings.