Rory Recommends

Choosing the right equipment for your photoshoots can make your life much easier. Welcome to Rory Recommends a Bi-Weekly Blog Post in which I’ll share my equipment recommendations for Portrait Photography.

 

Lets start with backdrops. Lastolite supply a wonderful selection of Collapsable/Reversible Backdrops. For the portrait photographer on the move they are an ideal solution, folding down to a manageable size. On a recent series of political and celebrity portrait photoshoots with Sir John Major and Breaking Bad/Scarface Actor Mark Margolis I utilised Lastolite’s new Background Smoke/Concrete and the old faithful Grey/White.

Sir John Major Photographed on Background Smoke/Concrete

The Smoke/Concrete backdrop has two different sides providing an artistic and vivid industrial effect. Since using it on portrait sittings it has made a real difference in sales. Don’t forget to pickup the Magnetic Backdrop Stand

Mark Margolis Actor Photographed on Background Grey/White

Utilising a medium format camera has its advantages, but it is rather heavy. Traveling between London & Los Angeles, I wanted to find a light weight tripod. Carbon Fibre seemed to be the best option. However, you find these types of tripods can be quite expensive. Doing my research I found the Manfrotto 190 Go. A very reasonable £299.00 it became the answer to my problems. This lightweight solution delivers on durability and precision with its tilt motion assistance, it weighs a light 1kg!

Transporting my lighting equipment has always presented me with a problem. I have never been happy with bags for my lighting stands and heads, and have often resorted to using a standard suitcase to transport my gear. The Manfrotto MB PL-LW-88W Rolling Organizer has become my bag of choice. This medium-sized water-repellent Pro-Light Rolling Lighting Gear Organizer from Manfrotto holds six Mini Compact Stands, two flash heads and two reflectors between padded, touch-fastened dividers inside the zippered main compartment, which is 33.1″ long. For accessories, there is a front exterior zip pocket, and two interior zippered lid pockets. You can carry the bag using the side grip handle or the two rear transport wheels and the top grip handle. Its sleek and easy to transport on the London Tube!

Rory Recommends (Must Have Portrait Photography Gear)

Choosing the right equipment for your photoshoots can make your life much easier. Welcome to Rory Recommends a Bi-Weekly Blog Post in which I’ll share my equipment recommendations for Portrait Photography.

 

Lets start with backdrops. Lastolite supply a wonderful selection of Collapsable/Reversible Backdrops. For the portrait photographer on the move they are an ideal solution, folding down to a manageable size. On a recent photoshoot with The Paratroopers, I utilised Lastolite’s, Virginia/Kentucky Dyed Collapsible Background. The backdrop has two different sides providing an artistic and vivid burn orange effect. Don’t forget to pickup the Magnetic Backdrop Stand

Pvt Brooks 3PARA 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment. Virginia/Kentucky Dyed Collapsible Background.

Next a few handy accessories; firstly my preferred Camera Case. Often during photography workshops delegates always ask what bags do you use? My answer the Peli 1510, make sure you pick up the dividers, the to replace the internal foam supplied. I find the internal foam always falls to bits from regular use. You can also pickup a handy laptop pouch kit for your iPad and Wires. I’ve been using this for more that a year now. The 1510 is one strong case, truly water proof, robust and rigid. The wheels are of very good quality, I’ve dragged this case all over the world across pavements, and fields.

Lately I have been wanting to capture behind the scenes footage of my photoshoots, especially photographing Tanks and visiting interesting locations. Mostly I use my trusted iPhone 7.  However, I needed something to mount it to a tripod. I found a very handy little tool for mounting the iPhone to my Manfrotto Tripod.  The Mudder Universal Smartphone Adaptor, fits any smart phone to your tripod with a generic screw fit.

 

Mudder Universal Smartphone Holder Mount Monopod Tripod Adapter

Another handy tripod adaptor, is the Manfrotto Universal Tripod Mount with Adapter for the GoPro Hero. I recently invested in a Go Pro Hero 5 Session, again to capture behind the scenes footage. This handy tool attaches the go pro to any Tripod or Monopod.

 

Royal Photographic Society Journal November 2016

Thank you to the Royal Photographic Society for Publishing one of my latest Portrait Sittings with the men of the 3rd Batalion the Parachutte Regiment.  The feature offers a unique behind the scenes look into my Soldiery Portrait Exhibition. With a behind the scenes view to how I work and the equipment I use. Click Here to View more information about my Soldiery Portrait Exhibition.

 

Since January 2016 I have been photographing members of the British Army for my project Soldiery. I’ve so far captured hundreds of different subjects in a bid to accurately represent the army in the second decade of the 21st century.

 

Photographing soldiers from a number of regiments, including the Grenadier Guards, The Royal Welsh, The Royal Irish and The Gurkhas, all of which will appear in a future exhibition and accompanying when the project is complete.

 

Just last month, I visited the 3rd battalion parachute regiment near Colchester and photographed a diverse group of soldiers. The battalion has been active since 1941, playing a central during battles in north Africa and Italy during WWII.

 

Photographing military personnel comes with a unique set of challenges. You need to gain their trust, which requires some initial paperwork prior to going to the base. None of this, however, got in the way of me capturing loads of great shots of the soldiers – thanks to their patience and hospitality. In particular, I really wanted to get some full-length group shots of the soldiers in combat gear and with their equipment. Below, in the RPS feature I take you through how I got these shots from a technical perspective, offering an insight into what a barracks photoshoot entails.

Royal Photographic Society Rory Lewis Photographer Parachute Regiment Military Portraiture

Royal Photographic Society Rory Lewis Photographer Parachute Regiment Military Portraiture

Royal Photographic Society Rory Lewis Photographer Parachute Regiment Military Portraiture

Royal Photographic Society Rory Lewis Photographer Parachute Regiment Military Portraiture

Royal Photographic Society Rory Lewis Photographer Parachute Regiment Military Portraiture

Royal Photographic Society Rory Lewis Photographer Parachute Regiment Military Portraiture

Suzanne Evans Portrait Commission (The Times)

With the imminent referendum on the European Union, I received a call from The London Times, commissioning a portrait of Brexit Spokesperson Suzanne Evans, former deputy leader of UKIP. The image to  appear in an article in the Saturday Edition of the Newspaper.

 

Political Portraiture is a challenging genre to capture. Using inventive scenarios and direction. I opted for a strong yet approachable portrait, which really captures Suzanne’s outgoing and strong beliefs and persona for the article.

Suzanne Evans, UKIP Brexit Portrait Rory Lewis Photographer (The Times London)

Suzanne Evans, UKIP Brexit Portrait Rory Lewis Photographer (The Times London)

Suzanne Evans, UKIP Suzanne Elizabeth Evans is an English journalist and politician, best known for being a past spokesperson for UK Independence Party, a political party from which she was suspended on 23 March 2016. (Rory Lewis)

Photoshoot Equipment

Lastolite Collapsable Backdrops

Those of you who follow my blog and twitter feed, see me using Lastolite Collapsable Backdrops on the majority of my Portrait Sittings. As a travelling portraitist collapsible backgrounds are a quick and easy solution. They take seconds to set up and pack away making them equally convenient to pop-open in offices & clients homes.

Harry Groener Rory Lewis Photographer

Harry Groener Rory Lewis Photographer

I enjoy shooting portraits with the collapsible backdrops. As a one man band, I can easily accomplish the background set-ups by myself since they fold and unfold like a giant reflector. They are easy to carry on public transport, which is a blessing. The majority of my sittings take place in London. As a regular passinger on the London Underground they are easy to stow in a large suitcase.

 

As well as single sided backdrops, Lastolite offer reversible backdrops giving you more options. The backdrops I most frequently us are the Black/White, White/Light Gray. I also utilise the dyed/muslin backdrops Wyoming/MississippiVirginia /Kentucky. Muslin backdrops give you the choice of colours and patterns.

Left (Virginia Dyed) Capt Reilly Royal Irish Regiment, Right (Wyoming Dyed) Actor Brent Spiner

Left (Virginia Dyed) Capt Reilly Royal Irish Regiment, Right (Wyoming Dyed) Actor Brent Spiner

What are Dyed/Muslin backdrops you may ask; well they date back to the 17th century. They where mostly used in dressmaking back then, as it’s a breathable fabric that drapes niceley. But it also holds dye and paint very well, which moved it into the world of theater, and, eventually, photography. I know what you are thinking, your mind is going back to your days at school, when the school photographer would capture your portrait against an awful dyed backdrop. I thought the same thing, but after looking at the work of the portrait artists of old, Muslins where widely used. Utilising the right lighting and mood these backdrops can help unleash your creativity.

Lastolite Black/White Left Actress Helen Bench, Right Actor William Shatner

Lastolite Black/White Left Actress Helen Bench, Right Actor William Shatner

I mostly use the Black/White Collapsible, I love shooting on black so much and this makes my life very easy. The black is especially handy for when I want a completely dark background that has no light reflection. Most of the locations I shoot in are not ideal, sometimes their is a little too much daylight I can’t block out! I find the backdrop absorbs light from the strobe far better than seamless backdrop paper which in my experience seems to catch the light.

 

Lastolite Urban BackdropsLastolite also offer a selection of Urban Backgrounds bringing the outdoor look, indoors; with a wide selection available. Urban Backgrounds help to save time and costs especially when you trying to find the right location for you portrait photoshoot. (Left Lastolite Urban Collapsible 1.5 x 2.1m Tarnished Metal/Container) The uncontrollable weather and the risk of distractions in the background no longer present challenges. Whether in a studio, or a client’s home, you can create the outdoor look in any location. In conclusion, I couldn’t imagine going back to the days of carrying roles of seamless backdrop paper around, or hunting for a suitable location and in turn praying for good weather.

 

It is also worth mentioning if you are going to invest in Lastolite Collapsable backdrop system. Make sure you purchase the Magnetic Background Support Kit. The Kit enables photographers to quickly and easily attach any collapsible backgrounds with a steel rim to a traditional lighting stand. The background can be attached to the support at a comfortable height. It is also quick and easy to switch backgrounds; simply pull one off and snap another on.

 

Estonian Ambassador Lauri Bambus

Ambassador of Estonia Lauri Bambus Rory Lewis Photographer Portrait LondonLauri Bambus has recently arrived in the UK, to take up his position as Ambassador of Estonia to the United Kingdom. The Ambassadors Office needed a portrait to represent the Lauri on the Embassy’s website and in any Diplomatic Literature and Press Releases. Commissioning me for the task I Arranged the portrait sitting at the Estonian Embassy in London. I wanted to capture a portrait as to reflect the responsibility of the diplomatic office. The Ambassador has worked in the foreign service for many years and now taking over his important role in the UK. The portrait had to be a representation of the Ambassadors sincerity and the county in which he represents.

 

It was wonderful to meet Lauri and learn more about Estonia. The Ambassador dressed in colours similar to the flag of his country which was a really nice touch to the portrait. The images really stand out and I hope they serve the Embassy well. As a London Portrait Photographer continually moving from location to location, I have the ability to popup my studio anywhere. Using portable Pro-Foto lighting and Lastolite Popup backdrops. If you are in need of a portrait for your website, Linkedin, or corporate  literature please get in touchI offer a comprehensive service in London, Liverpool and the North West. 

On Assignment Rory Lewis Photographer, Mamiya Leaf Credo & Profoto B2 GO Kit London Portrait Photographer

On Assignment Rory Lewis Photographer, Mamiya Leaf Credo & Profoto B2 GO Kit London Portrait Photographer

Ambassador of Estonia Lauri Bambus Rory Lewis Photographer Portrait London