Soldiery (British Army Portraits Book)

Soldiery (British Army Portraits Book)

The British Army is a diverse and proud organisation with a cherished heritage. ‘Soldiery’, has been a project focusing on historically documenting the modern British Army in a contemporary reflection of historical portraiture of days gone by. Photographed by Professional Portraitist Rory Lewis. Foreword by General Sir James Everard, KCB, CBE NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe. This book features portraiture of the Army’s Leaders and Soldiers from a range of iconic regiments. Each depicts the unique identity of the soldier, regiment and rank. Rory also explains his inspirations from the master portraitists of the past and the story behind the project.

£32.99

By Rory Lewis Photographer

Foreword by General Sir James Everard, KCB, CBE Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe

 

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (1 April 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1542989256
  • ISBN-13: 978-1542989251
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.1 x 27.9 cm

 

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This volume is about the images themselves telling their own story. However, behind each sitting there is something greater than the individual alone. This record of the project shapes the context, aims, and achievements. It speaks of inspiration and the key factors behind each image. It is not a history of the British Army. In the words of military historian, Sir John Fortescue: “the civilian who attempts to write a military history is of necessity guilty of an act of presumption.” Instead this book is a document: Of stories.

 

These portraits represent 12 months of one man’s work to represent others. The result is a remarkable collection of portraits. Perhaps it is my own coming of age. This way of life, as a photographer with passion, combining art and portraiture, hasn’t been a straightforward journey.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

John De Lancie Portrait Sitting

February and back in Los Angeles to teach a Portrait Masterclass at Samy’s Cameras Photo School. During my short visit, I was able to fit in a Portrait Sitting with Actor John De Lancie.

 

De Lancie is an American stand-up comedian, actor, director, producer, writer, singer, musician, and voice artist, best known for his roles as Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Donald Margolis in Breaking Bad.

 

I wrote to John last year and was finally able to arrange the sitting in Studio City. De Lancie a very talented actor was a joy to work with. Using inventive scenarios, I directed John as to assume a series of characters.

HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)

Equipment Used

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

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

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

Soldiery – Capturing British Army Generals

One of my current projects is entitled ‘Soldiery’. It’s an exciting, interesting and challenging project in which I’m working in collaboration with the British Army to capture a truly unique collection of military portraiture.

 

Soldiery has taken a year to complete and has seen me visiting a dozen regiments from the Queen’s Royal Lancers, to the Household Cavalry, Gurkhas and Parachute Regiment. There have been over 250 portrait sittings that have seen me march the length and breadth of the country. Over this past year, I’ve been in military bases as far apart as Scotland’s Fort George in Inverness, to Catterick Yorkshire, Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards, the MOD Headquarters in Whitehall and Army Headquarters in Andover.

2nd Duke of Lancasters Regiment Lt Colonel Hamish Cormack

2nd Duke of Lancasters Regiment Lt Colonel Hamish Cormack

The aim of Soldiery has been to capture the ‘greats’ of our military in a portrait collection which will serve as historical record of the British Army in the early 21st Century. This is living history, and includes several of the Army’s Generals and the senior staff of the British Army.

 

The Challenges 

I asked myself, as a humble civilian, how best to approach the portrait sittings. These figures are eminent people of stature and rank. What was the protocol? What style of portraiture would be best suited?

Lt Colonel Steel (3SCOTS The Black Watch) (Left) Lt Colonel Clayton (Royal Welsh Regiment)

Lt Colonel Steel (3SCOTS The Black Watch) (Left) Lt Colonel Clayton (Royal Welsh Regiment)

Photographers are, in many ways, like a chameleon. We adapt to our environment as we are a facilitator. As you may know, my inspiration is often drawn from historical portrait paintings of the past. I went back to my roots, channelled my inner history buff, and began reminding myself of military paintings of the Napoleonic period. 

Very quickly I stumbled upon the works of the celebrated George Dawe. His style laid the foundations of my style for the project. With a staggering 342 portraits of Russian Generals to peruse I wasn’t short of inspiration. He was a busy and incredibly talented artist – in an 18 month period he had painted 80 Generals to be displayed at the Winter Palace having gained the commission during a tour of Europe with his Patrons the Duke and Duchess of Kent.

Alexander-Bibikov & Dmitry Levin George Daw Portrait Artist

Alexander-Bibikov & Dmitry Levin George Dawe Portrait Artist

George Dawe – Inspiration for Modern Military Portraiture

From British shores, Dawe relocated to St Petersburg in 1819. He rapidly won acclaim for his work and also received complimentary poetry verses by Pushkin entitled ‘To Dawe Esq.’ His work is on display at the Hermitage in St Petersburg.  In fact, he became somewhat of a celebrity throughout Europe, mixing with the Russian intellectual elite, even gaining an invitation to the coronation of Nicholas I in 1826. By 1828 he had been officially appointed First Portrait Painter of the Imperial Court. 

For me, perusing his work, it’s the subject’s heroism and responsibility that left its mark. This is what I wanted to capture in my project with a lens, rather than a brush.

Alexander Balashov & Alexander Seslavin George Dawe Portrait Artist

Alexander Balashov & Alexander Seslavin George Dawe Portrait Artist

Military Sittings Began – Lt. General Mark Poffley

 First up was Lt. General Mark Poffley O.B.E at the M.O.D London Headquarters in White Hall. Poffley was commissioned into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in 1985 and has since served in the British Army for 31 years. He has been deployed in every major conflict in the past three decades from The Gulf War, Bosnian War, Insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia, War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War.

Lt General Mark Poffley, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Lt General Mark Poffley, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

So began my aim to capture the Lt. General as a leader, an implacable Napoleonic Hero in Dawe’s inspirational style. Once the shoot was underway I requested the General to clutch his sword as I shot from a lower angle. With eyes to the camera I was able to direct, and capture, a fierce yet responsible expression.

 

My second sitting took place with Lt General Sir James Everard Commander Army Land Forces, this time at Army Head Quarters in Andover. Everard is a veteran of many campaigns and has seen action in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq & Afghanistan. With Dawe’s inspiration at my fingertips I directed the General to pose profile allowing a full display of his medals and battle honours, with sword held close. I requested a responsible yet solemn expression looking to provoke the same thoughts in the viewers of my photographs as Dawe succeeded with his painting.

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

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

For historical recording, the sword is of critical importance. It is only part of the dress uniform for Generals who have received a 3-Star rank or above. The swords come from the Sovereign.

 

A tall and imposing man, Lt. General Bashall was photographed at the General’s Headquarters in Aldershot. The General is one of the British Army’s most veteran combat commanders, justifiably proud of his service with the Parachute Regiment.

Lieutenant General James Ian Bashall CBE Military Portraits, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Lieutenant General James Ian Bashall CBE Military Portraits, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

In order to fully capture and capitalise upon the General’s stature, I opted for a half-length portrait. Key this time was to capture his ‘wings’, the symbol of the Paratroopers.

 

Major General Sanders is commander of the 3rd UK Division or ‘Iron Division’. It is the job of the Iron Division to respond to the call to field an army, whenever needed. The result is that General Sanders plays a crucial role as a combat commander. Previously a member of the Rifle Regiment, the General is no stranger to the field of combat. Direction this time involved instructing his eyes to focus on the camera with me shooting from a lower point. The result is a portrait capturing a powerful yet thoughtful figure.

Major General Patrick Sanders, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Major General Patrick Sanders, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

The final General of the collection was Major General Bob Bruce, commander of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. I needed to display tradition in this portrait with Bruce captured in his traditional Scottish uniform. Profile to camera enabled me to capture his regimental badge and his feather plume in all its glory. I used lighting techniques to separate him from the backdrop, creating a split of light on the unseen part of his facial profile.

Major General Bob Bruce, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Major General Bob Bruce, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

From these sittings with senior military figures I have learned a great deal about capturing leadership. I have found myself directing prominent individuals who are used to themselves giving direction to the men and women they command. I have relished the chance to take responsibility and ownership for these historical images of senior military leaders. These portraits will stand the test of time.

 

Relying once again on my confidence as a portrait photographer, I was able to bring to the sittings the direction needed to draw on Dawe’s inspiration. This confidence is key to any of my sittings, both military and in other fields where I need to capture leaders: from business to government.  Whilst Soldiery is complete, the lessons I’ve learned will follow through to all my future portrait sittings.

 

 

Shotkit Book Collaboration

I’m delighted to announce a collaboration with Shotkit’s Mark Condon who have published a collection of my work in the Shotkit Book Volume II. If you are looking for inspiration, tips, tricks and ever wondered what’s in the camera bags of some of the world’s most established photographers. Mirrorless, Medium Format, Film, dSLR, smart phone… if it takes a photo, it’s in the Shotkit Book! Discover the cameras, lenses, flashes and all other equipment world-class photographers from a variety of disciplines use to make their jobs easier.

Shotkit Volume II Rory Lewis Photographer

Shotkit Volume II Rory Lewis Photographer

Shotkit Volume II Rory Lewis Photographer

Shotkit Volume II Rory Lewis Photographer

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 this 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 incredibly 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)

Photo-Plus Magazine Canon Pro Feature

Thankyou to Photo-Plus Magazine for asking me to take part in their Photo-Plus Apprentice feature. It was wonderful to share my portraiture knowledge and skills with my apprentice for the session Neil Hadrill and all the magazines readers. Thanks also to Calumet Photographic for providing their studio facilities in central London for the session. If you are interested in learning about portraiture I offer One-to-One Seminars and Workshops Throughout the UK & USA.

 

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