Soldiery (British Army Portraits) Liverpool Private View 24/06/17

Thank you to everyone who attended the open evening of Soldiery (British Army Portraits) at the historical Athenaeum Club in Liverpool. The evening held in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund raised over £2500.00 for the charity, which helps veterans and their families in need of support. I was delighted to show the work to the public for the first time. Many of those who sat for portraits where also in attendance.

 

The exhibition began with a talk about the work, followed by a speech by the projects patron General Sir James Everard, KCB, CBE. I’m now looking forward to taking the work to London, for a full public exhibition at the National Army Museum. If you missed the event, don’t worry the evening was captured on video, please take a look at below.


Hugh Bonneville Portrait Sitting

Hugh Bonneville was the subject of my latest Portrait Sitting at the London Studio. Bonneville is a remarkably talented British actor. Best known for playing Robert Crawley in the ITV period drama series Downton Abbey. On the day of the sitting my Phase One Body was somewhat acting up. Being resourceful I always carry a backup. Therefore I reached into my Peli Case for my Fuji X100F and TCL-X100, 50mm Teleconverter Lens. The Fuji performed swimmingly in the studio environment, not outperforming my Phase One XF, but still providing amazingly detailed results.

Now to the sitting, so much of the portraiture commissioned in the press and print industry is reluctant to take risks. I’d love to challenge that safety and introduce moments of spontaneity and awkwardness into my portraiture. In this instance I gave Hugh a character of a fallen hero. Hugh obliged me with a performance of tiny nuances creating a series of remarkable expressions.

Hugh Bonneville London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Hugh Bonneville London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

2016 Year in Review

Rory Lewis Photography: 2016 in a Nutshell

2016 has been another exciting, challenging, and hard-working year at Rory Lewis Photography. Work has been diverse and interesting, ranging from portrait projects with their own unique scope and approach, to commissions which have involved Hollywood actors such as Toby Jones and Natalie Dormer. Likewise, I’ve been caught snapping esteemed Military and Political Leaders from some of the staunchest UKIP Brexiteers to decorated British Generals, Admirals and Air Marshalls.

 

The boundaries haven’t stopped there, and I’ve even photographed an Austrian General, the German Actor Wolf Kahler, the Danish Ambassador to the UK, hundreds of our soldiers, and many valiant Victoria and George Cross Veterans. A challenging, diverse, and international year!

Brigadier Günter Eisl Portrait Sitting (Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer)

Beyond sittings, I’ve been found leading teaching at the National Portrait Gallery and The Victoria and Albert Museum. Alongside this, it’s been a developmental year for myself and the business, seeing more of my work acquired by the National Portrait Gallery.

 

Portrait Exhibitions 2017 and Beyond

The culmination of many of the 2016 portrait projects which have seen my dedication and soaring mileage, will be a series of portrait exhibitions which will be held throughout 2017 and beyond in to 2018.

 

Soldiery

Soldiery, the portrait project, started at the end of 2015. It has been a labour of love (and roads!) and has seen me catalogue a vast range of the British Military personnel across the length and breadth of the country. Not only that, I’ve had to hop over to Germany to complete the project. Soldiery has been immense in scope, and it’s only with hindsight that it is possible to truly comprehend this. It has seen me complete around 250 portrait sittings with soldiers of varying stature and rank, from a huge variety of the diverse and iconic British Army.

Soldiery has resulted in an in-depth historical and inspiring record of the British Army in the early 21st Century in both exhibition and book format. Capturing the stature and essence of the individuals, the rank, and the regiment required adaptable skills to create powerful portraits whether dealing with the colourful pageantry style uniform of the Black Watch 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, or the dark and muted tones of the 1st Battalion Rifles.

General Bashall (Left) Lt General Poffley (Right)

I drew my inspiration from the prolific military portrait artist George Dawe, famed for his immense number of paintings of Russian Generals. I simply stand in awe at the number of portraits he painted, having seen my own artistry challenged and extended by my ‘mere’ 250 sittings!

 

London Expansion

As my reputation as a leading portrait photographer continues to grow, a great deal of my work is regularly focused on London. It’s not unusual to see me, and my gear, pounding the pavements of the capital, three or four times a week. These shoots see me flitting between portrait sittings to my bread and butter work of actor headshots and model portfolio creation.

Rory Lewis Photographer London Actors Headshots

London also draws me for another key reason. Much of my photography teaching work has focused on London in 2016. This usually takes the form of one-to-one photography workshops and also group photography workshops. Beyond London, my photography teaching and courses have continued and expanded in Dublin, Edinburgh, Belfast and Los Angeles.

 

Home Roots

Photography sittings and teaching have continued in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds. I am still pleased to be able to offer headshots and portfolio services in the thriving screen areas of the north.

 

Reflections on the Year of Learning

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

New Year 2016 saw me label the year ahead as a ‘Year of Learning’. I kept this goal in mind at every opportunity the year presented. Most notably, 2016 presented me with the opportunity to teach photography at two iconic institutions: the Victoria and Albert Museum, and The National Portrait Gallery. What an honour! These experiences were not just learning opportunities for the attendees and delegates, but an opportunity for me to solidify my ideas and creative style of portraiture. I have felt privileged to teach literally nudging up against my own artistic inspiratory character, Holbein, the Renaissance Portraitist.

London Portrait Masterclass Rory Lewis Photography School Tuition

I have also enjoyed continuing my long term partnership with Calumet Photographic. This partnership has enabled me to deliver over two dozen workshops throughout 2016 specifically focused on the medium of portraiture. One-to-one portrait photography lessons have once again been a mainstay of the year, with various bespoke and tailored workshops for clients with their own individual learning requirements. 2017 will see this element of Rory Lewis Photography flourish, with over two dozen exciting workshops currently on offer over the coming year.

 

Portraiture in Essence

2016 started with an assignment which, for me, encapsulated my core aims and ambitions: to become ever more focused on the niche of portrait photography, and establishing myself as an accomplished Portraitist. My own unique style has been welcomed in sittings that have captured figures of historical and artistic importance. I challenge myself to capture every detail whilst revealing the character and eminence of the individual or their role.

Army Recruitment

Portraiture Sittings

The year, with a focus on portraiture, started off on the right foot with a sitting with actor Toby Jones. Jones, being one of my favourite actors, was a pleasure and a challenge all wrapped up in one. I wanted to encapsulate his bohemian image in an intrinsically unique and unadorned style. I wanted the images to disarm the viewer with Toby Jones’ distinctive and individual character. This work was great fun, Toby Jones was a joy to work with, and seeing his incredible talent first-hand was pretty rewarding!

Actor Toby Jones, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

From here, I was commissioned by the RAF to complete a portrait sitting with the outgoing Air Chief Marshall, Sir Andrew Pulford. Rapidly finding myself at ease in military settings thanks to my Soldiery project, this was a sitting right up my street. Sir Andrew Pulford is a helicopter pilot with over 5000 hours of flying time clocked up, and is a veteran of campaigns ranging from Northern Ireland, to the Falklands, to the Gulf War. This portrait sitting needed to capture Pulford’s vast experience and leadership. It was an enjoyable challenge. My reputation as a military portraitist has snowballed, largely due to the Soldiery project. Since the sitting with Sir Andrew Pulford I have been called on to create portrait sittings with a vast range of Army Generals, Admirals and Air Marshalls. 2016 is the year that much of the British Military Leadership paraded in front of my lens! I’ve photographed the likes of General Sir James Everard, to Lt. Generals Bashall and Poffley, as well as Admirals Zambellas and Jones.

Lt General Sir James Everard, Military Portraits, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Back to Acting

Not far into the year, at the end of January, I enjoyed working with Actor Julian Bleach. Bleach is an actor whose skill I have admired for some time. I particularly love Julian’s portrayal of Niccolò Machiavelli in Showtime’s series The Borgias. It was wonderful to work with, and photograph, him. His amazing bone structure made it brilliant for me with an opportunity to play around with shadows, highlights and back-lighting as I created the portrait.

Julian Bleach Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

With a Spot of Ambassadorial Spirit

Whilst visiting the capital in 2016 you would have been as likely to see me popping in to an Embassy as getting up close and personal with Holbein in The National Portrait Gallery. My Ambassadors Portrait Project started in 2015 and was extended this year when the Austrian General & Defence Attaché to UK, Brigadier Günter Eisl, commissioned a portrait to be held at the Austrian Embassy in London. Following this sitting, London’s only uniformed Ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark, Claus Grube, sat for a portrait. Whilst focusing on their portraits it has also been fascinating to learn about our European allies and understanding their customs and traditions.

HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)

Featured Work

I’m pleased that 2016 saw my work features in Photo-Plus Magazine. Photo-Plus published a 5-page feature on my lighting techniques (one of my secret ingredients!) along with practical guides.

The Royal Photographic Society also featured a similar sized feature focusing on my lighting, specifically with the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment. In the RPS feature I guide readers through the technical aspects of the shots providing you with an insight in to the unique nature of barracks photoshoots.

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.

 

Headshots Galore

Throughout 2016, headshots have been continually commissioned. I’ve had actors, barristers, solicitors, corporate directors and office personnel all appearing before my lens. Notable characters have included American author Akemi Dawn Bowmen as well as X-Factor Winners Beau Dermott, and Richard and Adam Johnson.

Beau Dermott Portrait Sitting Rory Lewis Photographer

Undertaking headshot sittings plays to my strengths as an experienced Portrait Photographer. The 10 years’ of headshot experience that I have feeds in to the reputation I have established as a portrait photographer of our time. I understand the skills and direction needed whether dealing with actors or managing directors, business leaders or politicians. I am able to lead the shoot and guide the individual in their portrayal to the camera. For headshots this is essential, as these pictures exude the image that ‘sells’ whether that’s as an image for a certain role, or as a business leader eminent in their field.

Author Akemi Dawn Bowmen Portrait Rory Lewis Photographer Portraits London

This is all possible because of a sitting that is relaxed and informal and accessible to everyone, whether a budding child actor or an established public figure. My portraiture expertise and experience enables me to assist you in developing styles, emotions and incorporating lighting that will make your headshot stand out.

 

From Army to Navy

Whilst Soldiery has seen a great deal of focus on the Army, just before jetting off to Los Angeles again this year, I was given the honour of photographing a truly historic series of portraits.

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 and his incumbent Admiral Sir Philip Jones.

These portraits were commissioned by the Royal Naval and were to photograph the First Sea Lord Admiral, Sir George Zambellas at Admiralty House in Portsmouth. Embarrassingly, this was my first ever visit to this historic naval city. Not to worry: I also was able to take the opportunity to capture portraits of the First Sea Lord’s Staff, the Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock, Flag Lieutenant (Capt. Sam Shepherd GC), and Master Seaman Rob Martin.

Master Seaman Rob Martin, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

I felt very much part of naval history undertaking these portraits at Admiralty House. I was just a stone’s throw from the majestic and imposing HMS Victory, as well as looking out at the Royal Navy’s powerful arsenal of warships. It wasn’t hard to find some inspiration, as I only needed to look up at the array of Naval Portraits adorning the walls.

 

Back to the Army

Similarly, before my LA trip, I had the opportunity to enjoy one of my most interesting military portrait sittings to date. In March, Major John Melville, late of the Commandos, and currently serving in The Royal Artillery, commissioned a Military Portrait to be held at the barracks in Liverpool. It was wonderful to meet John and fascinating to speak to him about his incredible career. Melville is a soldier of considerable experience, serving through the ranks as an enlisted man all the way to becoming an officer. His service in the military spans from the Falklands Conflict in 1982 to the Gulf War in 1990, and even the recent conflicts in Iraq 2003 & Afghanistan 2001–14. It was incredible and humbling for me to come face-to-face with such experience in toil and conflict.

 

Los Angeles – Rory Lewis Stateside

Once again, for a period of 2016, my base became Los Angeles. I spent a jam-packed four weeks in springtime, in the City of Angels, on various portrait assignments. This first 2016 jaunt saw me moving swiftly away from the formalities and uniforms of the British Military, and donning instead a pair of Converse, and exhibiting a more Californian, laid-back style.

William Shatner (Rory Lewis Photographer)

In Los Angeles I undertook six equally impressive actor portrait sittings. First up was William Shatner at his offices in Studio City. This was followed by a memorable opportunity to get behind the lens with Richard Herd, an 83 year old legend who you might recognise from the classic film FIST or the sci-fi series ‘V’. A couple of Trekkies of course made their way on to my agenda, in the form of Jonathan Frakes and Jeffrey Combs. My last two LA sittings of that visit were of Harry Groener and Kitty Swink, both notable for their acting works.

Harry Groener (Rory Lewis Photographer)

I was once again back in LA later in the summer when I undertook sittings with Bo Foxworth, Tony Amendola and Saul Rubinck. I love this work for the passion and energy I get to capture.

 

Bo Foxworth, icon of both stage and screen, saw me directing an expressive shoot with extremes of emotion played out. Proving a natural to the static picture, through my ability to utilise movement, this shoot was a great success. I was treated to seeing Tony Amendola on stage at the Antaeus Theatre, well known from Mask of Zorro and Stargate SG1. Once again, movement was the key to a successful shoot. Finally, I became absorbed in a shoot with Saul Rubinck, star of Unforgiven and Warehouse 13, whereby the actor regaled a traumatic story and I captured the essence of emotion in each moment.

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.

This visit to Los Angeles also saw me teaching my first portrait photography workshop with Samy’s Camera. This has been an interesting and exciting endeavor.

 

Brexit and Portraiture

Yes, Brexit got everywhere in 2016, including photography! With the headlines dominated by this moment in modern British and European history, I found myself commissioned to photograph UKIP spokesperson and Brexiteer, Suzanne Evans. Personally, being a die-hard Remainer, I put on my most neutral and composed manner, and got on with what would prove to be a fascinating sitting.

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

Victoria & George Cross Portraits

One of the highlights and honors of 2016 has been being commissioned by the Victoria & George Cross Association. I have been tasked with capturing portraits of individuals who have been decorated with either of the crosses, in both Britain and elsewhere in the Commonwealth. These are the Highest Orders for Bravery for both Military and Civilian actions.

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

This commission has proven to be exceptionally challenging, not least because the recipients live all over the globe, from Nepal to New Zealand, Canada to Australia. It is also proving to be an immensely humbling project as I hear stories of incredible valour and selfless courage. Being able to meet these living heroes in person is indescribable. Working with men and women who have not only saved lives, but done so at risk to their own safety, or have held their ground under overwhelming pressure – and often injury – has been a remarkable experience. If you would like to view the full collection of the tales behind the pictures, take a moment to visit my project page. I am also pleased that several of the portraits have been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery. They now have 5 of my portraits, a number I hope to expand on over time!

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

Rory Lewis Photography Goes to Ireland

In October I was very pleased to hold my first workshop in Dublin offering a weekend portraiture workshop. This has broken the ground for 2017 when I will be holding a full series of workshops in both Dublin and Belfast. I will also be speaking at Photofest in Dublin in the Spring.

London Portrait Masterclass Rory Lewis Photography School Tuition

I’ve also accepted the opportunity to speak at the Photography Show in Birmingham in March 2017 which will be another great honour, and another chance to hear about life behind the lens.

 

Further Portraits

Two more notable portrait sittings of 2016 are my sitting with Wolf Kahler, the iconic face of many a German villain, and Natalie Dormer, almost the complete antithesis with natural beauty and an ability to captivate. Both were photographed at the London Studio.

Rory Lewis Photographer, Wolf Kahler Actor Portrait, London Portrait Photographer

Wolf Kahler has a repertoire of baddie roles behind him, and has been seen in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Barry Lyndon, Remains of the Day, and the fabulous and memorable Band of Brothers. I was commissioned to photograph him by United Agents. One look at his face and he’s in your memory forever, and I used this to my advantage for the sitting and directed him to make fierce and vivid expressions.

Natalie Dormer Portrait Sitting Rory Lewis Photographer London Portrait Photographer

Natalie Dormer took a little while to relax in to my style of natural photography, but once she started to see the results she became excited by the work. Natalie has starred in Game of Thrones, the Hunger Games, and The Tudors, and has rapidly become one of Britain’s esteemed actresses. Her features and expressions lend themselves to my realistic photography, and without an airbrush in sight, the results speak for themselves.

Natalie Dormer Portrait Sitting London

 

Rounding Off 2016 With More Soldiery

As the year drew to a close, I concentrated once more on completing the Soldiery Project. The last few sittings of the year were amongst the most exciting. Notably I had a completely new experience photographing mounted soldiers from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. It turns out that horses are incredibly well-behaved sitters.

HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)

From here I swept in to modernity with sittings with the mechanised Royal Lancers, The Tanks and Troopers of the Queens Royal Hussars in Paderborne, Germany, and the striking Nepalese faces of the Royal Gurkha Rifles.

Rfn Ganga Bahadur Gurung (Left) (Right) W02 Shiva Kumar Rai 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles

Soldiery is nearing its end, with just three further sittings that will be completed by the end of January 2017. From here, Soldiery will be complete and appearing in the National Exhibition in 2017. Unveiling this exhibition to the public in 2017 will no doubt be a highlight of the year to come.

 

 

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

Chef Jack Day

Chef Portrait London Portrait Photographer Rory LewisA first for me this week I had a Portrait sitting at my new Liverpool Studio with Chef Jack Day. Jack is passionate about food and wanted his portraits to reflect his enthusiasm. The images are to be used on Jack’s Website and Marketing Material. Everything from clutching a whole sirloin of beef to throwing carrots and twisting herbs we had a full hour of food fun with the camera to capture an amazing set of frames. If you are a professional in need of new portraits/headshots, I can offer a comprehensive service throughout the UK, London, Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds.

HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)

HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)

HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)

HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)

Natalie Dormer Portrait Sitting

Natalie Dormer Portrait Sitting Rory Lewis Photographer London Portrait PhotographerActress Natalie Dormer, star of Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and The Tudors sat for a portrait at the London Studio several weeks ago. I wrote to Natalie inviting her to sit for my Expressive Portraits Project just over a year ago; it just goes to show how many letters and requests she receives. Natalie is exceptionally talented with an incredible natural beauty. As a realist portrait photographer Natalie was a little apprehensive of my style. In the modern world people are obsessed with removing the detail through airbrushing.

Natalie Dormer Portrait Sitting Rory Lewis Photographer London Portrait Photographer

Natalie Dormer Portrait Sitting Rory Lewis Photographer London Portrait Photographer

My style is to preserve even line every mark every mole. I try to present my subjects as they really are, flaws and all, while allowing for moments of candidness and vulnerability. Less austere and more deliberate than a mug shot, my work often brings facial features into high relief, allowing expressiveness to recede and making the sitter seem somehow up-close and removed at the same time. Natalie indulged me, enabling me to capture a series of wonderful frames. Her apprehension turned to excitement when she viewed the final results which edified her unique and Natural Beauty.

Natalie Dormer (born 11 February 1982) is an English actress. She is best known for her roles as Anne Boleyn on the Showtime series The Tudors (2007–10), as Margaery Tyrell on the HBO series Game of Thrones (2012–present), Moriarty on the CBS series Elementary (2013–15), and as Cressida in the science-fiction adventure films The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) and Part 2 (2015). She has been nominated for Best Performance at the Gemini Awards for her work in The Tudors. She has also been nominated for a Screen Actor's Guild Award for her performance in Game of Thrones. (Rory Lewis)

The Bookshelf of a Portrait Photographer

I’m often asked by the many delegates who attend my Photography Workshops. What Books do you recommend for the Portrait Photographer? So I thought I would write a Blog Post on the Subject. The following is a series of Books I recommend for the Budding and Established Portraitist. You will notice the majority of these listed are books on Portrait Painters. It is my opinion that the Portrait Photographer should always look at the work of the Portrait Painter. For they were around long before the photographer. Many of the lighting & posing & even retouching techniques we portrait photographers use; are inspired from Artists such as Caravaggio, Michelangelo, and DaVinci & Rembrandt.

 

Cecil Beaton Portraits & Profiles

Cecil Beaton Portraits and ProfilesCecil Beaton has been one of my favourite portrait photographers. Portraits & Profiles is a must for the Portrait Photographer. Not only does the book feature his work but also his thoughts and opinions of the stars who sat for him. The opinions taken from his private diary entires on the celebrities and historical figures who appeared in his portraits. He spent 50 years charming the rich and famous from behind the camera in order to produce an array of iconic portraits.
But now Cecil Beaton’s true and often scathing opinions on stars from Mick Jagger to Monroe have been revealed in a new book.
Cecil claimed the Rolling Stones frontman “could be a eunuch”, described one half of Grace Kelly’s face as “like a bull calf” and dismissed Elizabeth Taylor as vulgar and unladylike.
Displaying disconcerting foresight, he said of Marilyn Monroe: “It will probably end in tears.”
But despite his many waspish commentaries, the photographer was full of praise for the Queen who he described as “serene, magnetic” and “meltingly sympathetic” and her “very pretty” sister Princess Margaret. When skimming through the volume, I arrived at Cecil’s Portrait sitting with Actor David Warner, and was reminded of my own portrait sitting with David. Cecil’s descriptions of Warner still aptly describe the acting legend. Cecil Beaton: Portraits and Profiles £20.40 (Amazon)


Citizens & Kings Portraits in The Age of Revolution 1760-1830 by Sébastien Allard & Robert Rosenblum 

Citizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolution 1760-1830Every Portrait Photographer should have a copy of this book. I can’t remember when I last learned so much, this book fascinates me. Artists who have been just names are brought to life. Most of all the sculptor Houdon, whose sensitive, enlightened translation of the Greek style comes to life, and the British painter Thomas Lawrence, once a household name across Europe. What puts people off art history is the idea that it is merely about a sequence of styles – rococo to neo-classicism to Romanticism. If you want to understand the medium of portraiture this book will give you a flying start. The portraits are presented in various categories (e.g. the status portrait, the cultural portrait), preceded by short ‘bite-size’ essays that provide an insight into the context, illustrating their point with comparative works. Citizens & Kings Portraits in The Age of Revolution 1760-1830 £45.00 (Amazon)


A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits by Laura Cumming

9780007118441Focusing on the art of self-portraiture, this effortlessly engaging exploration of the lives of artists sheds fascinating light on some of the most extraordinary portraits in art history. Self-portraits always seem catch your eye. They seem to do it deliberately. Walk into any art gallery and they draw attention to themseles. Come across them in the world’s museums and you get a strange shock of recognition, rather like glimpsing your own reflection. For in picturing themselves artists reveal something far deeper than their own physical looks: the truth about how they hope to be viewed by the world, and how they wish to see themselves. In this beautifully written and lavishly illustrated book, Laura Cumming, art critic of the Observer, investigates the drama of the self-portrait, from Durer, Rembrandt and Velazquez to Munch, Picasso, Warhol and the present day. She considers how and why self-portraits look as they do and what they reveal about the artist’s innermost sense of self – as well as the curious ways in which they may imitate our behaviour in real life.Drawing on art, literature, history, philosophy and biography to examine the creative process in an entirely fresh way, Cumming offers a riveting insight into the intimate truths and elaborate fictions of self-portraiture and the lives of those who practise it. A work of remarkable depth, scope and power, this is a book for anyone who has ever wondered about the strange dichotomy between the innermost self and the self we choose to present for posterity – our face to the world. A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits £15.90 (Amazon)


Karsh Yousef – A Biography in Images by Malcolm Rogers

Karsh Yousef - A Biography in ImagesDuring his remarkable life, Yousuf Karsh, who was born in Armenia in 1908, traveled the globe to photograph subjects ranging from historical figures to anonymous farmers to steelworks. “Karsh: A Biography In Images” is a full revision of the 1996 60-year retrospective of his work and brings that popular catalogue back into print in an affordable paperback format. This new edition covers the photographer’s career with greater breadth than its previous incarnation, adding works from his early experiments and his photojournalism commissions in Canada. Karsh’s reputation as one of the most sought-after portrait photographers of the twentieth century is well established. A roll call of his subjects is a veritable who’s who of the modern age–Winston Churchill, Jacqueline Kennedy, Pablo Picasso, Walt Disney, Elizabeth Taylor and Albert Einstein, to name just a few–and this book features many of these figures, in some of the most recognized images of our time. But added to the portraits are a number of lesser-known or previously unpublished photographs–early figure studies, atmospheric views of the Ottawa theatre and scenes of wheat fields, city streets and factories across Canada. With its long autobiographical essay and extensive captions for each photo, many of them new to this edition, “Karsh: A Biography In Images” is both an elegant celebration and an indispensable overview of a life lived in photography. Karsh Yousef – A Biography in Images £29.50 (Amazon)


Caravaggio: Complete Works by Sebastian Schutze

caravaggio complete works taschenRealist revolutionary: The painter who brought the heavenly down to earth Caravaggio, or more accurately Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), was always a name to be reckoned with.Notorious bad boy of Italian painting, the artist was at once celebrated and controversial: Violent in temper, precise in technique, a creative master, and a man on the run. This work offers a comprehensive reassessment of Caravaggio’s entire oeuvre with a catalogue of his works. Each painting is reproduced in large format, with recent, high production photography allowing for dramatic close-ups with Caravaggio’s ingenious details of looks and gestures. Five introductory chapters analyze Caravaggio’s artistic career from his early struggle to make a living, through his first public commissions in Rome, and his growing celebrity status. They look at his increasing daring with lighting and with a boundary-breaking realism which allowed even biblical events to unfold with an unprecedented immediacy before the viewer. An accompanying artist chronology follows Caravaggio’s equally tumultous personal life, tracing his history of debts, gambling, drunken brawls, and murder. Caravaggio: Complete Works by Sebastian Schutze £29.24 (Amazon)


Hans Holbein Paperback – 19 Dec 2013 by Pascal GrieneHans Holbein the Younger (1497/8 – 1543), one of the most versatile and admired painters of the Northern Renaissance, trained under his father in Augsburg and then worked for leading patrons in Switzerland before settling in England as Court Painter to Henry VIII. Holbein is my favourite portrait artist. He was a hugely ambitious artist, and even during his formative years in Lucerne and Basle designed jewellery, stained glass and woodcuts as well as paint major altarpieces and portraits. He also carried out several monumental decorative schemes for private houses and civic buildings. In all his commissions Holbein sought to rival the greatest masters of Germany and Italy – notably Durer and Mantegna – as well as Antiquity, and by the time of his visit to France in 1524 he was determined to secure a position as court painter. This, and the precarious situation he was finding himself in as a result of the Reformation’s increasing hostility to religious works, drove him to England for good in 1532, where in addition to decorative schemes and Triumphs he both drew and painted numerous unrivalled likenesses of leading courtiers, merchants and diplomats, among which is his celebrated double portrait ‘The Ambassadors’. This acclaimed, richly illustrated book by Oskar Batschmann and Pascal Griener – now available in a revised and expanded Second Edition – is a major advance in our understanding of Holbein’s contribution to European art. The authors re-examine every aspect of a remarkable career, in which they take full account of the artistic and cultural influences that affected the artist and of his friendships with leading humanists such as Erasmus and Sir Thomas More, and cast fresh light on many hitherto vexing questions and misunderstandings. Hans Holbein Paperback £20.00 (Amazon)


Author Akemi Dawn Bowmen

Author of STARFISH Akemi Dawn Bowmen arranged a Portrait Sitting at the Liverpool studio. Akemi was in need of a Portrait for her latest book. It was wonderful to work with Akemi who is originally from Las Vegas and now living in Cheshire. Akemi also served in the United States Navy. I’m looking forward to reading her latest book. If you are an author in need of a portrait please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 (Rory Lewis) (Rory Lewis) (Rory Lewis)

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

Los Angeles April 2016

April saw me spending three weeks back over the pond in Los Angeles, leading me to dub the city my second home. This avenue of photography has really taken off for my business. Back in 2014 it accounted for barely 2% of my work load. Now, in 2016, 15% of my assignments take place in the City of Angels.

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

On home turf it’s a similar story too. Whilst I will always remain true to my roots, Liverpool used to account for 75% of my work, whereas now 60% of my time is devoted to the capital. As my career has developed I’ve followed my heart, always seeking to let my passion see business sense. The combination seems to be working.

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

I’m an Englishman in… Los Angeles
Looking from the outside in has given me a different view of Los Angeles from the average LA dweller themselves. It took a bit of adjusting to the laid back surfer dude lifestyle. For a formal portrait photographer this poses one big shift in dynamics: out is the formal attire of military wear and the suited and booted, in comes the shorts, t-shirts and slip flop look. Quite a contrast.

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

This follows through to business attitudes too. I’m used to presenting my business persona, known to the Americans as the British Stiff Upper Lip. This is a strategy that works well in the corridors of Whitehall, or with eminent London actors, but does leave you feeling a little like a fish out of water in Los Angeles. I’ve had to become chameleon like and change my persona to suit a different brand of clients. In Los Angeles I’m likely to be grabbed en route to the shoot to go grab a taco, crack a few jokes. Shoots will frequently be finished up with a chance to go for dinner when I get quizzed about my works and exhibitions.

 

With a three week visit this time I wanted to head out and experience the real LA. With the convenience of AirBnB this wasn’t too hard as I could do it from a few different apartments and guest houses.

 

After 14 hours of flying I was grateful that my first stop-off was in the quiet hills of La Canada Flintridge. A perfect place to relax, unwind and find my feet. 

I highly recommend the Melrose Trading Post which is open every Sunday. This place is what we would call an antiques and vintage fair in the UK. It’s a delightful mish-mash of stalls with street food and live entertainment. If you want to enjoy some really good food and listen to live music, and buy something vintage make sure you pop along.

Antique Portraits (Melrose Trading Post)

Antique Portraits (Melrose Trading Post)

Down to Work in Los Angeles

 William Shatner was the subject of my first portrait sitting, once again in his offices in Studio City. The previous time I had photographed him I had needed to work fast – I had 5 minutes before he had to fly off to a film set. This time was a different affair. He was wonderfully relaxed, sporting linen trousers and sandals, the epitome of the Californian (even though he is Canadian). LA grows on everyone. I was able to direct several different looks and expressions, and was very pleased with the results as was William Shatner himself.

William Shatner (Rory Lewis Photographer)

William Shatner (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP



Heading downtown to a studio apartment, I moved in to the hustle and bustle of central LA. Welcome to the cultural melting pot. Downtown is unusually small, not at all like New York or London. Being able to walk these streets was a real pleasure knowing that just 20 years ago this was a No Go zone. Despite the compact downtown area, LA in fact spreads out as far as the eye can see into several cities and towns. Downtown has some wonderful quaint and bohemian places to visit, the Last Book Store is a must. But be careful – you will come out with a box of secondhand books as I did.

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Downtown LA (Rory Lewis Photographer)

My second sitting of the trip was with legendary actor Richard Herd. Quietly renowned, he as starred in a diverse range of movies and television series, mainly in the 1980s. He starred in TJ Hooker & in the science fiction series ‘V’. You may have also seen him in the 1970’s film FIST.

Actor Richard Herd (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Actor Richard Herd (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Actor Richard Herd (Rory Lewis Photographer)It was a pleasure to be invited to Richard’s home for the sitting. I was delighted to have a look at his own art work, being a keen painter himself. He showed me one of his portraits of Rod Steiger who has starred with him in movies. It was an impressive sight. Richard is now 83 and constitutes my ideal subject for portraiture. He truly has a face that’s been lived in: his features tell the tale of his life, and his aged hands and features make for epic portraiture. His experience as an actor made him a joy to photograph. Richard was at natural ease with direction making my job easier. His poses and expressions were effortless. I donned my thick skin to have him swear at me to express anger, the results were worthwhile!

 

Sitting Number Three

 with actor Jonathan Frakes took place at his home way out in Tarzanna. Jonathan once played the role of Commander Riker in Star Trek the Next Generation. Anyone who follows my work knows that I’m a bit of a Trekkie, so this was a real treat for me.

Jonathan Frakes (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Jonathan Frakes (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Jonathan is now a director. He’s been responsible for directing many episodes of Marvels Agents of Shield, Falling Skies, and his latest project The Librarians. It was incredibly interesting to meet Jonathan. An exceptionally tall man, I took my wife Sasha with me to assist on the sitting. Sasha being 6’ 2” herself was still dwarfed by him. His stature combined with his natural portrait-ready face made a series of striking frames.

Jeffrey Combs (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Jeffrey Combs (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Los Angeles Welcomes My Fourth Sitting

. This sitting almost certainly was my favourite. I had the pleasure of photographing actor Jeffry Combs, a true master of talent. Again he tickled my Trekkie fandom, but Combs is also known for his starring role in the 1980’s gore fest, The ReAnimator as well as other roles. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance in “Would You Rather” – it’s a horror movie with an interesting twist.

Jeffrey Combs (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Jeffrey Combs (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Meeting Jeff at the entrance of the apartment, we headed out for a taco and a chance to chat about his latest projects – and to get a sense of the man in the flesh ready for his shoot. Jeff is another epitome of Californian style and relaxed charm. His face is animated and expressive and he truly put on a performance for the shoot. I directed him to imagine being giving a parking ticket right after the shoot, the expression was worth it and broke free from the Californian laid back style. Every frame tells a different story. It was a privilege to see each element of my direction reflected in a unique expression, a moment in time caught in portrait. I just hope he didn’t in fact get a parking ticket!

Harry Groener (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Harry Groener (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Nearing the End, with My Second-to-Last LA Portrait Sitting
Actor Harry Groener was the star of my penultimate sitting. I was previously due to shoot Harry later in the second week of my visit. However, Harry texted me to say he had just been cast for a part, and the wonderful beard and slightly long hair he was sprouting would have to be cut off. With this in mind we moved the sitting forward. As a wonderful character actor, I wanted to capture Harry as the mammoth of the stage he is. One of the things you understand is that Character Actors enjoy the rugged look: The Stoop, as I like to call it.

Harry Groener (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Harry Groener (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Once again, a laid-back character greeted me at the apartment. We worked together to create several different looks and emotions to create a series of wonderful portraits that would challenge and inspire. Harry is an incredibly talented actor, absorbing my photography direction effortlessly.

 

My Last Photography Sitting in Los Angeles

My final sitting of the trip took place at our final destination: The Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City. Without a doubt, The Sportsmen’s Lodge is by far our favourite hotel in LA. It is an icon of the 1950s. Incredibly , John Wayne once fished in the lake behind the hotel with his son. The hotel certainly hasn’t lost its charm and is well worth considering it if you’re planning a trip to LA.

Kitty Swink (Rory Lewis Photographer)

Kitty Swink (Rory Lewis Photographer) Phase One XF IQ40MP

Actress Kitty Swink was my final sitting of the trip. Kitty is the wife of my good friend, Armin Shimmerman. A superb actress, Kitty’s eyes are a striking combination of hazel and green. Kitty and Armin mirror my wife and I: one is tall and one is short, and we’re not looking at the usual gender stereotype! For Kitty and Armin this in fact helped the pair to gain a role as a married couple in Dudley Moore’s movie, “Like Father Like Son”. Let’s not forget that Dudley Moore himself would feel at ease with the stature of myself and Armin! Nonetheless, Kitty is generally more a native of the stage as an astounding actress. She is effortlessly expressive and a true talent indeed.

 

Rory Lewis, Back to Blighty 

All in all, the trip was a very successful. We were welcomed by this incredible city, and we spent three wonderful weeks exploring it. I completed six successful portrait sittings that have become essential parts of my portfolio and depict my love of portraiture.

 

I’m looking forward to returning to LA in June. This time the focus of the trip will be to teach a workshop with my new partner, Samy’s Camera. Nonetheless I already have several plans to complete more portrait sittings.

 

If you are looking for a photographer, notably a specialist in portraiture photography, in Los Angeles, then give me a shout. I’m in LA several times a year and always keen to schedule new assignments.

 

Los Angeles Actors Headshots Rory Lewis Photographer