Willie Apiata VC Portrait Sitting

The Victoria Cross & George Cross Portrait Project has been an exceptionally challenging, yet rewarding portraiture project. Individuals who have been awarded the Victoria Cross have been selected because they are worthy of Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand’s highest military award for their bravery and conduct in the field. Similarly, those awarded the George Cross are civilians or military personnel who have displayed conspicuous bravery in and away from the field. These awards are not issued lightly. They are the very greatest honour for individual valour and merit. These individuals are the modern day heroes.

 

Over the next few week’s I’ll be posting all the VC & GC recipients in a series of Blog Posts. Here is my third post in the series, New Zealand, recipient Willie Apiata VC. (View Full Series of Posts)

Apiata (then a lance corporal) was part of a New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) Troop in Afghanistan in 2004 that was attacked by about 20 enemy fighters while holed-up for the night in a rocky rural area. Enemy rocket propelled grenades destroyed one of the troop’s vehicles and immobilised another. This was followed by sustained machine gun and automatic rifle fire from close range.

 

A grenade explosion blew Apiata off the bonnet of his vehicle, where he had been sleeping. Two other soldiers in or near the vehicle were wounded by shrapnel, one of them seriously (Corporal D). After finding cover, it was seen that Corporal D had life-threatening arterial bleeding and was deteriorating rapidly.

 

Apiata assumed command of the situation, deciding all three would need to rejoin the troop which was about 70 metres to the rear. Apiata decided his only option was to carry Corporal D to safety, and none of the three were hit during the retreat. After getting Corporal D to shelter, Apiata rejoined the firefight.

 

He became one of the very few living holders of the Victoria Cross. In part the citation reads:

 

“In total disregard of his own safety, Lance Corporal Apiata stood up and lifted his comrade bodily. He then carried him across the seventy metres of broken, rocky and fire swept ground, fully exposed in the glare of battle to heavy enemy fire and into the face of returning fire from the main Troop position. That neither he nor his colleague were hit is scarcely possible. Having delivered his wounded companion to relative shelter with the remainder of the patrol, Lance Corporal Apiata re-armed himself and rejoined the fight in counter-attack.”

 

Three other SAS soldiers also received bravery awards for actions during the same mission. Two received the New Zealand Gallantry Decoration and one the New Zealand Gallantry Medal.

Willie Apiata VC Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

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Major General Tim Robinson Portrait Sitting

London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis Military PortraitRetiring from the Army senior military leader Major General Tim Robinson CBE, commissioned a portrait at Army Head quarters in Andover. With a military career spanning two decades, seeing active service and leading troops in Iraq, Bosnia and Northern Ireland. Faced with such a distinguished military sitter I directed the General to assume solemn and reflective poses; as to mirror his achievements and responsibilities. The General really enjoyed the experience and was fascinated by my lighting and directional methods.

 

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. I offer a compressive service to Members of the Armed Forces, RAFRoyal Navy and Army who are looking to capture a professional portrait. Available at studios in Central London and in Central Liverpool; or on Location.

 (Rory Lewis) (Rory Lewis)

London Portrait Photographer– Capturing the Essence of Power

William Jefferson Hague FRSL (born 26 March 1961)[1] is a British Conservative politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Richmond (Yorks) from 1989 to 2015. He also served as Leader of the House of Commons from 2014 to 2015, as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2010 to 2014,[2] and as Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1997 to 2001. (Rory Lewis)

William Jefferson Hague Baron Of Richmond (Rory Lewis Photographer 2015)

As a London Portrait Photographer you learn very quickly. A picture does speak a thousand words, but not so when it comes to History Portrait Photography. These pictures need only speak two words: authenticity and power. When it comes to this style of photography the photographer needs to play by the rules: rules that are subtle to grasp, comprehend and activate, making the game difficult to play. Yet the end result needs to look effortless. Such photos are one of the truest documents of history and society, particularly for those holding positions of power and influence in the beating power centre of London – but also elsewhere.

 

Lt General James Everard (Rory Lewis Photographer 2015) Normally two characters are displayed in portraiture: the character of the subject and the character of the photographer. The photographer is aiming to capture the mood, expression and personality of subject. With History Portraiture, the photographer needs to take an apparent backseat, becoming invisible to the end result, presenting objectivity which enables the viewer their own subjectivity. This is a skill, an art form in itself – to appear to effortlessly capture through artistic ability the true appearance of the sitter, the authentic appearance, whilst exuding power. The result should be a deep and detailed portrait, yet a blank slate on which can rest the viewer’s own opinions. (Lt General James Everard Left)

 

I have an understated passion for Modern History Portrait Photography. In my time studying History at Kings College, London, I spent my days pondering on numerous historical figures gazing down on me and providing the inner voice of judgement on my student-lifestyle. I became fascinated by the pictures, searching for the 1000 words but finding just the two. I -had to do the understanding, the opinion-forming, no lazy back-of-the lecture-theatre effort allowed here. I found myself asking: what motivated the artist? Did the sitter approve, like, or dislike the artist’s representation? Were the portraits politically driven for propaganda or were they true to history?

 

I feel privileged to combine this passion, this appreciation of these individual’s place in history by becoming a photographer, called upon to utilise my expertise in lighting techniques, direction and even inventive scenarios to capture some of the most key people of our age.

Military Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis Lt General Mark Poffley British Army

Military Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis Lt General Mark Poffley British Army

Baron William Hague (Rory Lewis London Portrait PhotographerIn these shoots, here is a clear need to guarantee authority, the exemplary status, and in some cases the immortality of the sitter. These portraits need to stand the test of time like no other. To achieve this air of power and authority, the photographer needs to set the individual in a plain, yet solemn expression. The photographer is neutral, the sitter a vessel of unadorned vigour. How does this look in reality? This portrait of Baron William Hague of Richmond, commissioned just after the General Election of 2015 when Hague announced his retirement from politics, is a perfect example. The usually affable and jovial character portrayed in the media has instead been replaced with true authenticity and exudes the aura of a powerful political figure with a career spanning 30 years. I have kept the portrait neutral to allow you, the viewer, to make up your own mind and to form your own opinions.

 

Rory Lewis Photographer, London Portrait Photographer, General Nick HoughtonSimilarly this atmosphere of power can be seen in my portrait of General Sir Nicholas Houghton, Chief of Defence Staff, which was published in the Telegraph Newspaper. The commission came from the Ministry of Defence, looking for a portrait which can be used across a range official publications. As is often important when working with subjects who have busy agendas and high-profile responsibilities, the shoot was brought to the heart of power in Whitehall itself. My role, the game I needed to play, involved directing the General in order to project an air of solemnity whilst holding a plain expression. The result is an authoritative yet commanding portrait of this modern day historical figure. The image fits the historical context of military portraiture: a juxtaposition of simplicity and complexity.

 

Iain Duncan Smith London Portrait Photographer Rory LewisAt a recent London Portrait Sitting with Iain Duncan-Smith I dodged the ball of political controversy to remain true to the elements of the history portrait. The public, along with current and future historians, will have their own opinion, my role is to allow this judgement to be formed and to sit comfortably with the image portrayed. The viewer can subconsciously overlay their own viewpoint on the portrait.My aim is to allow my integral presence in the shoot become invisible in the end result, allowing the portrait to become a blank canvas for the viewer’s opinion. I aim, from behind the camera and through directing the shoot, to place these eminent figures elegantly yet timelessly in to their place in history.