Meditations of Sir Patrick Stewart

I had assumed that only sheer luck or destiny would place Sir Patrick Stewart in front of my lens. Somewhat surprisingly though, after 24 years of dreaming about capturing his portrait, it was the sight of a vulgar, pink Hummer that inspired our meeting. The sitting would change my stars from a provincial photographer to an international portraitist working in London & Los Angeles.

 

 

Let me take you back to the beginning

How does one arrange a sitting with a screen icon? I began with Sir Patrick’s acting agency in London with little success. My letter was no doubt buried within a mountain of fan mail. Soon after though, I discovered that Sir Patrick was starring in Waiting for Godot at New York’s Cort Theatre on Broadway. Another letter was dispatched.

 

To my astonishment, a reply came through just a few weeks later. Alas, what I had originally thought to be success was a note from Sir Patrick, declining my invitation. Nevertheless, like the snail setting his sights on the Arc, I composed a compelling reply urging Sir Patrick to reconsider. A few weeks passed by again until, seemingly out of the blue, an email from the man himself appeared in my inbox. Sir Patrick was accepting my offer. His acceptance however, came with one condition – the sitting would have to take place in New York.

 

With no patron or funding to realise my opus, I realised that I would have to fund this trip on my own if I were to realise my dream of photographing such a prestigious, cultural icon.

Sir Patrick Stewart Film Actor Character Actor Portfolios London & Los Angeles

The appearance of the pink Hummer

The decision to bite the bullet and head to New York was made whilst shooting a wedding in Liverpool. As I sat in the hotel waiting for the bridal party to arrive, I wondered if I was actually ready to leave my comfort zone. Would I really be able capture the likeness of such a stalwart thespian, as well as show people what I was capable of? Was I really destined for something greater?

 

With thoughts of Bailey and Beaton in my head, the bride’s pink Hummer pulled into view. Was this what I wanted for the next 50 years? To be a second rate wedding and portrait photographer, capturing nothing but other people’s celebrations and dreams?

Sir Patrick Stewart

I decided enough was enough. A professional photographer is nothing without a compelling portfolio and my passion to create had become an addiction. I booked my plane ticket as soon as the wedding was over.

 

The travelling portraitist

The session was arranged for May 5th 2014 and I arrived in New York little more than a day before the shoot. Be it the jetlag from travelling 3,606 miles, or the anticipation of meeting Sir Patrick, I couldn’t sleep the night before. Thankfully, one of my strengths is preparation and I had come to the sitting with ideas and a plan.

 

Ironically, the inspiration behind my work has never flown from photographers, but from portrait painters. In this instance, the foundations of my sitting with Sir Patrick stemmed from a 16th century portrait of Sir Thomas Moore by Hans Holbein the Younger.

Painted in 1527, Sir Thomas More would have been a very compelling and controversial sitter for Holbein. In this three quarter length portrait, the inclusion of a strikingly shallow backdrop intensifies the harshness of Moore’s presence. What makes the portrait even more arresting is Holbein’s use of colour. By incorporating bold areas of green (as a symbol of revelation) and red (signifying power and importance), Holbein was able to perfectly portray his subject’s status as a strong, intellectual figure.

 

Incorporating inspiration

Using Holbein’s painting as a muse, I began to think more about the subject of my own portrait. In recent years I have become accustomed to working with famous faces, but it was my sitting with Sir Patrick that helped to mould my approach and method. Part of this technique is to commit to thorough research. Research is critical when photographing prominent subjects, as more often than not you will find yourself limited to an incredibly short amount of time. After all, these are busy people indeed.

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

To begin this pre-emptive research, I look to photographers who have captured the subject previously; grappling with the mathematics of the portrait. (Head shape, good side, bad side. That kind of thing.) If the subject is an actor, I’ll take the time to binge watch any movies and TV Series, watching relentlessly for any details or angles that haven’t caught my attention before.

 

To prepare for my sitting with Sir Patrick, I began by studying his portrait sitting with Nadav Kander, before watching his iconic role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek the Next Generation and looking through a multitude of YouTube clips that captured Sir Patrick’s vast array of stage performances.

 

Studying his profile, I had repeatedly found that Sir Patrick had primarily been photographed as if still embodied by one of his characters. However, Holbein’s portrait had given me the inspiration to portray Sir Patrick quite simply as himself – the thespian. No greens or reds, but simply a black backdrop, pierced by the harsh lighting that I knew would amplify every detail of Sir Patrick’s intense gaze.

 

“By perseverance, the snail reached the ark.”

Charles Spurgeon

 

Waiting in anticipation

My plans and preparation had all led to this moment at Neo Studios in Manhattan; a little jet lagged, but nevertheless ready for one of the most important sittings of my career. Sir Patrick arrived at the studio and (after taking a deep breath) I introduced myself and began to summarise my ideas behind the portrait. I needn’t have been worried. Years of experience with taking direction made for an incredibly smooth start to the session and Sir Patrick remained engaged throughout.

In my style of simplicity, the portrait is all about the ocular. I focused Sir Patricks gaze across the lens, not into it, and an incredibly receptive Sir Patrick rapidly obliged me with a wonderful series of provocatively poised expressions.

 

After working for just 10 minutes, I was already happy with the results I was getting. This then provided me with the opportunity, for the last few minutes, to experiment and, most importantly, to enjoy my time with this compelling and absorbing subject. Rather than looking to the familiar heroic roles that Stewart’s name is inherently synonymous with, I directed Sir Patrick to assume the fierce, vengeful expressions of a calculated villain.

Rory Lewis Photographer Photographing Sir Patrick Stewart London Portrait Photographer

What emerged from this part of the session was a complex and vigorous character, embodied by energy and animation; a side of Sir Patrick that I thoroughly enjoyed watching unfold in front of my lens.

 

Though just a short 20 minutes, my sitting with Sir Patrick has been one of the most rewarding of my career so far. The chance to show what I can do and influence other photographers with my style of portraiture; to work with a level of client that consistently interests and inspires my work; and, above all, to work with a true British icon.

 

Limited Edition Prints Available From the Sitting Click Here

 

Portraitist Book Now Onsale

£11.99 From Amazon

Power & Portraiture Video Blog Post

In this video Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer talks about his inspiration from Fine Art in his Power Portraits, of British Soldiers, and Politicians. Talking about the Portrait Painters such as, Sir Thomas Lawrence, George Dawe, Hans Holbein The Younger, Titian, and Photographers such as Yosef Karsh.

Caravaggio Inspired Sir Patrick Stewart, Limited Edition Print Released

Recently National Portrait Gallery Acquired Photographer Rory Lewis Fine Art Portrait Photographer. Captured a series of exceptionally detailed chiaroscuro portraits inspired by Caravaggio of actor, Sir Patrick Stewart. In these portraits Rory Lewis 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 Rory Lewis opted for vivid and stark expressions from the contemplation, to the emotionless.

 

Caravaggio Inspired Sir Patrick Stewart, Limited Edition Print Release 100 Supplied Hand Signed & Numbered By Photographer. Certificate of Authenticity Signed & Numbered by Photographer.
£129.00 Worldwide Postage Included

Limited Edition 100 Available, supplied Fine Kodak Endura Metallic Paper Print A2 Size, 420 x 594 mm 16.5 x 23.4 in  

ONLY 100 will be Issued Don’t Miss Out!

 

Caravaggio Inspired Sir Patrick Stewart, Limited Edition Print Release 100 Supplied Hand Signed & Numbered By Photographer. Certificate of Authenticity Signed & Numbered by Photographer.
£129.00 Worldwide Postage Included

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.

Jim Beaton, GC, CVO

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 Seventh post in the series, recipient Jim Beaton, GC, CVO. (View Full Series of Posts).

Jim Beaton GC London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

In March 1973, Beaton was transferred to the Royalty Protection Squad, A Division, and from 14 November served as a Personal Protection Officer to Princess Anne. He was given the number 11 in the small team responsible for protecting members of the Royal Family. On 20 March 1974 the princess and her husband Captain Mark Phillips were returning to Buckingham Palace from a royal engagement. Their car was stopped in the Mall by another vehicle driven into its path. The car was driven by Ian Ball, who was later declared to be mentally ill; Ball jumped out of his vehicle and tried to force the Princess from her car. He shot the royal chauffeur, Alex Callender, and a passing journalist, Brian McConnell, who tried to assist. Inspector Beaton was shot three times, including serious wounds in the chest and abdomen, and a gunshot wound to his hand, sustained when he tried to block Ball’s weapon with his own body, after his own gun had jammed. Beaton also sustained injuries to his pelvis while trying to disarm Ball. For his bravery Beaton was awarded the George Cross; Callender and McConnell were each awarded the Queen’s Gallantry MedalBeaton remained with the Princess until February 1979.

 

Beaton served in the Metropolitan Police from 1962 to 1992. He spent the first years of his career as a Constable on the beat at Notting Hill from 1962 to 1966. In 1966 he was promoted to Sergeant at Harrow Road, and then in 1971 to Station Sergeant at Wembley. He became an Inspector in 1974, whilst serving in Royal Protection, and was subsequently promoted to Chief Inspector in August 1979, Superintendent in 1983, and Chief Superintendent in 1985. In 1982 he became the Queen’s Police Officer. He retired in 1992.

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

 

Book Preview

 

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