National Portrait Gallery Photography Workshop

Over the May bank holiday weekend, I had the pleasure of teaching a Portrait Photography Workshop at The National Portrait Gallery in London. Taking inspiration from the Galleries Tudor & Renaissance Portrait collection and taught over two days the workshop was fully subscribed. I had the pleasure of teaching 12 delegates throughout the weekend. No stranger to the gallery i’m always popping my head through the door to gauge upon the feast of art and intrigue. I was honoured to have one of my own portraits of Actor David Warner acquired by the gallery some years ago.

National Portrait Gallery Workshop, Rory Lewis Photographer  28th & 29th May 2016

National Portrait Gallery Workshop, Rory Lewis Photographer 28th & 29th May 2016

Day one began with a talk about my style of portraiture and how art has provided a great deal of inspiration in the lighting and detail of my own work. Then we moved on to talk about the work of Renaissance Artists, such as Michelangelo, DaVinci, Durer and Hans Holbein the Younger. After some refreshment, the delegates toured the galleries tudor and renaissance portraits, with a talk by myself on some of the most interesting pieces of the collection.

National Portrait Gallery Workshop, Rory Lewis Photographer  28th & 29th May 2016

National Portrait Gallery Workshop, Rory Lewis Photographer 28th & 29th May 2016

After lunch it was time to learn about lighting techniques using the galleries well equipped photographic studio. The delegates practiced their technique using a light meter to setup basic one and two light Renaissance Chiaroscuro Lighting with our first model Teo Pendle. After lighting skills where honed, I demonstrated direction and how to create different emotions and moods. The delegates then took it in turn to capture a varied collection of portraits illustrating different sides of Teo’s character.

National Portrait Gallery Workshop, Rory Lewis Photographer  28th & 29th May 2016

National Portrait Gallery Workshop, Rory Lewis Photographer 28th & 29th May 2016

Day two began with a review of all the delegates portraits from day one. We then recapped on the lighting techniques and skills. The delegates then worked in groups to re-create versions of the renaissance portraits in the gallery.

National Portrait Gallery Workshop, Rory Lewis Photographer  28th & 29th May 2016

National Portrait Gallery Workshop, Rory Lewis Photographer 28th & 29th May 2016

After lunch it was time to work with our Second model Laure O’Rourke, the delegates working in groups visited the gallery to plan a series of portraits using the collection as inspiration. Then taking it in turn to re-create their own versions of portraits with Laura. Shoots completed, I reviewed all the portraits captured, and gave individual feedback on lighting and direction.

National Portrait Gallery Workshop, Rory Lewis Photographer  28th & 29th May 2016

National Portrait Gallery Workshop, Rory Lewis Photographer 28th & 29th May 2016

The course was a wonderful success, packing in as much as I possibly could over two days, the Delegates walked away with a new appreciation of art and photographic skills. Capturing their own collection of portraiture. It was fascinating to see everyones unique style and approach to the practical photography session. If you are interested in my photography workshops in the UK or USA, please take a look at my Photography Course Page. I will be returning to teach at the National Portrait Gallery in 2017 and i’m already planning my next workshop.

National Portrait Gallery Workshop, Rory Lewis Photographer  28th & 29th May 2016

National Portrait Gallery Workshop, Rory Lewis Photographer 28th & 29th May 2016

H.E. Diego Gómez Pickering – KCVO Ambassador of Mexico

H.E. Diego Gómez Pickering – KCVO Ambassador of Mexico Rory Lewis Photographer LondonAmbassadors is a new project, driven by my passion for Historical Portraiture. The work will comprise of Ambassadors portraits from each political embassy in London. My first sitting took place in July with Ambassador of Mexico H.E. Diego Gómez Pickering. It was wonderful to meet the Ambassador himself a former journalist; capturing his portrait. It was interesting to learn that 2015 is the year of Mexico in the UK and their are great deal of events and exhibitions taking place. Mexico has been a country i’ve always wanted to visit and It was wonderful to learn some new facts about Mexico. I’ve already arranging portrait sittings with several more Ambassadors and I hope to complete the project in the next few weeks.

H.E. Diego Gómez Pickering – KCVO Ambassador of Mexico Rory Lewis Photographer London

 (Rory Lewis)

 (Rory Lewis)

Holbein’s Inspiration: His Place in Portraiture

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’.

(Left) Holbein's Portrait Portrait of the Merchant Georg Gisze 1532 (Right) Rory Lewis Portrait Lord Mayor of Liverpool Erica Kemp 2014

(Above) Holbein’s Portrait Portrait of the Merchant Georg Gisze 1532 (Right) Rory Lewis Portrait Lord Mayor of Liverpool Erica Kemp 2014 (London Portrait Photographer)

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.

(Left Holbein's Portrait of Sir Richard Southwell 1536 (Right) Rory Lewis Portrait Lord Mayor Liverpool Gary Millar 2013

(Above Holbein’s Portrait of Sir Richard Southwell 1536 (Right) Rory Lewis Portrait Lord Mayor Liverpool Gary Millar 2013 (London Portrait Photographer )

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.

 

(Left) Holbein's Portrait of Sir Thomas More, 1527 (Right) Rory Lewis Portrait Sir Patrick Stewart  2014

(Above) Holbein’s Portrait of Sir Thomas More, 1527 (Right) Rory Lewis Portrait Sir Patrick Stewart 2014 (London Portrait Photographer)

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.

Portrait of Sir Henry Guildford & Iain Duncan-Smith  (London Portrait Photographer)

(Above) Hans Holbein Portrait of Sir Henry Guildford (1527) & Iain Duncan-Smith Rory Lewis (2015) (London Portrait Photographer)

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.