Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, GC, VR

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 Sixth post in the series, recipient Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher GC VR . (View Full Series of Posts).

Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Croucher was recommended for the award for throwing himself on a Taliban tripwire grenade to save his comrades. He was part of a reconnaissance mission near Sangin in Helmand Province in Afghanistan on 9 February 2008. Moving through a compound at night he felt a trip-wire against his leg and saw that he had activated a grenade. He threw himself to the ground, and used his rucksack to pin the grenade to the floor, and tucked his legs up to his body. He was thrown some distance by the explosion, but due to the protection offered by his rucksack and body-armour, suffered only a nose-bleed, perforated ear drums and some disorientation. The pack was ripped from his back by the explosion, and his body armour and helmet were pitted by grenade fragments. Of the other three members of his patrol, the rear man managed to take cover by retreating round the corner of a building; the patrol commander threw himself to ground, and received a superficial face wound from a grenade fragment; and the final team member did not have time to react, and remained on his feet, and would have been within the lethal range of the grenade but for Croucher’s action. The explosion breached a large lithium battery which was in Croucher’s pack to power the patrol’s electronic countermeasures equipment, causing it to burst into flames. A medic recommended that he be evacuated, but he insisted on continuing as the members of the patrol realised that Taliban fighters would probably come to investigate the explosion, and this would give the marines the opportunity to ambush them.

 

Croucher was initially put forward for the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest decoration for valour in the British Armed Forces. Had he been awarded the Victoria Cross he would have been the first Royal Marine to receive the award since 1945 and only the second living British recipient in the 21st century. The George Cross is awarded for the same level of bravery expected of a VC but is awarded when no enemy is present. Croucher is one of only 22 living recipients of the medal of which only 406 have been awarded.

 

Croucher was presented with the GC by Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace on 30 October 2008.

 

 

Rambahadur Limbu 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 Fourth post in the series, recipient Rambahadur Limbu, VC, MVO. (View Full Series of Posts)

 

Rambahadur Limbu VC London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

 

Extracts from citation

“On 21st November 1965 in the Bau District of Sarawak Lance Corporal RAMBAHADUR LIMBU was with his Company when they discovered and attacked a strong enemy force located in the Border area… Leading his support group in the van of the attack he could see the nearest trench and in it a sentry manning a machine gun. Determined to gain first blood he inched himself forward until… he was seen and the sentry opened fire, immediately wounding a man to his right. Rushing forward he reached the enemy trench… and killed the sentry, thereby gaining for the attacking force a foothold on the objective… with a complete disregard for the hail of fire he got together and led his fire group to a better fire position…

 

…he saw both men of his own group seriously wounded… and… immediately commenced… to rescue his comrades… he crawled forward, in full view of at least two enemy machine gun posts who concentrated their fire on him… but… was driven back by the accurate and intense… fire… After a pause he started again…

 

Rushing forward he hurled himself on the ground beside one of the wounded and calling for support from two light machine guns… he picked up the man and carried him to safety… Without hesitation he immediately returned… [for the other] wounded man [and] carried him back… through the hail of enemy bullets. It had taken twenty minutes to complete this gallant action and the events leading up to it. For all but a few seconds this Non-Commissioned Officer had been moving alone in full view of the enemy and under the continuous aimed fire of their automatic weapons… His outstanding personal bravery, selfless conduct, complete contempt of the enemy and determination to save the lives of the men of his fire group set an incomparable example and inspired all who saw him.

 

Finally, Lance Corporal Rambahadur was responsible for killing four more enemy as they attempted to escape…

 

He displayed heroism, self sacrifice and a devotion to duty and to his men of the very highest order. His actions on this day reached a zenith of determined, premeditated valour which must count amongst the most notable on record and is deserving of the greatest admiration and the highest praise.”

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

Help me to turn the Victoria & George Cross Project Into a Book Click Here

Johnson Beharry 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 second post in the series, British, recipient Johnson Beharry VC. (View Full Series of Posts)

On 1 May 2004, Beharry was driving a Warrior tracked armoured vehicle that had been called to the assistance of a foot patrol caught in a series of ambushes. The Warrior was hit by multiple rocket-propelled grenades, causing damage and resulting in the loss of radio communications. The platoon commander, the vehicle’s gunner and a number of other soldiers in the vehicle were injured. Due to damage to his periscope optics, Pte. Beharry was forced to open his hatch to steer his vehicle, exposing his face and head to withering small arms fire. Beharry drove the crippled Warrior through the ambush, taking his own crew and leading five other Warriors to safety. He then extracted his wounded comrades from the vehicle, all the time exposed to further enemy fire. He was cited on this occasion for “valour of the highest order”.

 

While back on duty on 11 June 2004, Beharry was again driving the lead Warrior of his platoon through Al Amarah when his vehicle was ambushed. A rocket-propelled grenade hit the vehicle six inches from Beharry’s head, and he received serious shrapnel injuries to his face and brain. Other rockets then hit the vehicle, incapacitating his commander and injuring several of the crew. Despite his life-threatening injuries, Beharry retained control of his vehicle and drove it out of the ambush area before losing consciousness. He required brain surgery for his head injuries, and he was still recovering in March 2005 when he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Johnson-Beharry-VC (Rory Lewis Photographer 2016)

Help me to turn the Victoria & George Cross Project Into a Book Click Here

Daniel Keighran 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. Let’s begin with Australian recipient Daniel Alan Keighran, VC.

 

Daniel Alan Keighran, VC  is an Australian soldier and a recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia, Keighran was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions while serving with the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, in a fire-fight with insurgents during the Battle of Derapet on 24 August 2010, an action of Operation Slipper.

During the battle, Keighran “with complete disregard for his own safety” repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to draw fire away from a team treating a battle casualty (Keighran’s friend Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney). Keighran’s actions were key in allowing the Coalition forces to withdraw without further casualties.

 (Rory Lewis)

Help me to turn the Victoria & George Cross Project Into a Book Click Here

Caravaggio Style Actor Portraits

Renaissance portraiture and the use of chiaroscuro by the masters has been of immense inspiration to my photographic style. For those unfamiliar, chiaroscuro is an oil painting technique, developed during the Renaissance.  The technique uses strong tonal contrasts between light and dark to model three-dimensional forms. Artists such as Caravaggio used chiaroscuro for dramatic effect. Painting vivid religious depictions of light and shadow.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

Recently I captured a series of exceptionally detailed chiaroscuro portraits inspired by Caravaggio of actors René Auberjonois, Sir Patrick Stewart & Iain Glen.  In these portraits I have attempted to emulate Caravaggio’s naturalism and dramatic lighting with photographic effect. Creating super detail of skin tone, texture and colour. Using inventive art direction I opted for vivid and stark expressions from the contemplation of René Auberjonois to the emotionless Sir Patrick Stewart and the wicked smile of Iain Glen.

Actor René Auberjonois Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Sir Patrick Stewart Intense Chiaroscuro Photographer Portraits Rory Lewis

Iain Glen Intense Chiaroscuro Photographer Portraits Rory Lewis

Victoria & George Cross National Portrait Gallery Acquisitions

National Portrait Gallery Rory Lewis PhotographerWe are pleased to announce that a series of portraits of Victoria & George Cross Holders captured by Rory Lewis Photographer, have been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery London.  The Portraits where taken for the ‘Victoria & George Cross Association.

 

Founded in 1856, the aim of the National Portrait Gallery is ‘to promote through the medium of portraits the appreciation and understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture, and … to promote the appreciation and understanding of portraiture in all media’. It is an absolute honour to increase my acquisitions from One Portrait to Five Portraits now in the galleries archive. The Gallery having previously acquired my portrait of Actor David Warner.

Peter Norton GC, Bill Speakman VC, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Peter Norton GC, Bill Speakman VC, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Margaret Vaughan GC, Rambahadur Limbu VC London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Margaret Vaughan GC, Rambahadur Limbu VC London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

The Royal Lancers Portraits

My current Portrait Project entitled Soldiery has taken me all over the UK &  Europe capturing portraits of the Men and Women of the British Army. My recent sittings took place last month with The Royal Lancers in Catterick Yorkshire. The Regiment was formed following the amalgamation of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’s) and The Queen’s Royal Lancers last year.

 

I was delighted to work with the regiment having the opportunity to capture portraits of a wide range of troopers, from the Colonel of the Regiment to the Regimental Sergeant Major, a selection of officers, NCO’s and enlisted troopers.

 

Soldiers are very easy to Direct, Sutherland, once quipped “Accuracy is Truth”. With a degree in history, detail is very important to me as a visual artist. I pride myself on capturing every line, mark and scar. Solemn duty and capturing the vivid yet emotionless expressions has been my directorial impetus for the soldiery exhibition.

 

Military Portrait Services Available.

Lt Colonel MJ Mudd DSO. The Royal Lancers

Lt Colonel MJ Mudd DSO. The Royal Lancers

Capt Anani-Isaac The Royal Lancers

Capt Anani-Isaac The Royal Lancers

Lcpl Ryan Bonell The Royal Lancers

Lcpl Ryan Bonell The Royal Lancers

Capt AR Humphreys The Royal Lancers Military Portrait Photographer London Rory Lewis

Capt AR Humphreys The Royal Lancers Military Portrait Photographer London Rory Lewis

WO2 (RQMS) KM HOUGH he Royal Lancers Military Portrait Photographer London Rory Lewis

WO2 (RQMS) KM HOUGH The Royal Lancers Military Portrait Photographer London Rory Lewis

Royal Lancers, Military Portraits, British Army Portraits Photographer Rory Lewis

Royal Lancers, Military Portraits, British Army Portraits Photographer Rory Lewis

 

Los Angeles June 2016

June, I was back in Los Angeles for a few days to photograph a series of Portrait Sittings with three very talented actors. Bo Foxworth, Tony Amendola and Saul Rubinek. 

 

Bo Foxworth is a wonderful stage Actor and recent star of screen and Stage Play All The Way in which Brian Cranston leads the cast as President Lyndon Johnson. My first Portrait sitting of the trip; Bo is a natural in front of the lens, a pleasure to photograph. My theme for the portrait sitting was ‘Expressive’. Directing Bo to assume extreme emotions. To achieve my goal I asked Bo to assume a Shakespearian Character. He obliged me with his favourite Richard III. To my astonishment, Bo became the Machiavellian King presenting me with the true theatrical talent.

Actor Bo Foxworth Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Actor Bo Foxworth Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Actor Bo Foxworth Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Tony Amendola has an instantly recognisable face and was the subject of my second LA Portrait Sitting. I had the delightful pleasure of seeing Tony on stage, playing Judge Brack in Hedda Gabler at the LA Antaeus TheatreAmendola is a wonderfully versatile actor appearing on screen in the Mask of Zorro and in the television series Stargate SG1.

 

Seeking once more, expressive and animated portraiture. I reverted again to the Bard. Tony obliged me with a unique performance of a soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. When working with exceptionally talented actors, truly great things can happen. As Tony performed I clicked away at the shutter; capturing a series of remarkably animated and expressive portraits. Movement is essential in portraiture, so many photographers keep their subjects static, whereas I prefer movement and animation.

Tony Amendola Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Tony Amendola Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Tony Amendola Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Tony Amendola Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Tony Amendola Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Tony Amendola Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

My final Portrait Sitting was the most powerful. Actor Saul Rubinek has been a prolific presence on both the stage and screen for many years. Starring in films such as the Unforgiven to television series Warehouse 13. Saul was very familiar with my style of portraiture and when we sat down to discuss the sitting he had a very simple idea. Instead of Acting to the lens, he would tell me a story. The sitting was very profound as Saul regaled a tale about a traumatic time in his life, as he spoke I clicked the shutter and each frame I captured was emotional and thought-provoking.

 Saul Rubinek Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Saul Rubinek Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

 Saul Rubinek Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Saul Rubinek Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

The Sea Lord’s

Recently I had the honor of photographing a very historic series of portrait sittings. Commissioned by The Royal Navy. To Photograph the outgoing First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas. The sittings took place at Admiralty House in Portsmouth. I was also able to capture portraits of the First Sea Lord’s Staff. Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock, Flag Lieutenant (Capt Sam Shepherd GC) and Master Seaman Rob Martin.

 

Embarrassingly this was my first visit to the Naval Port City. Surrounded by the History, Admiralty House is a stones-throw away from the iconic HMS Victory and the vast array of the Royal Navy’s powerful arsenal of Warships. The Portrait sittings were very enjoyable, and I took inspiration from the feast of Naval Portraits hanging on the walls in Admiralty House.

Admiral Sir George Michael Zambellas, GCB, DSC, ADC, DL, FRAeS Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Admiral Sir George Michael Zambellas, GCB, DSC, ADC, DL, FRAeS Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Vice Admiral Simon Jonathan Woodcock, OBE, Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Vice Admiral Simon Jonathan Woodcock, OBE, Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Flag Lieutenant (Capt Sam Shepherd GC) London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Flag Lieutenant (Capt Sam Shepherd GC) London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Master Seaman Rob Martin, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Master Seaman Rob Martin, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis