The Year of Portraiture. This year has seen me photographing a range of eminent figures from the world of politics, acting and the military. 2015 has seen me expand from Liverpool to nationwide, with a focus in London, as well as hopping the Atlantic to make my name Stateside. 2015 has been a monumental year for Rory Lewis Photography seeing me grow exponentially as a person through learning and rekindling of creative drive, as well as the business going from strength to strength, up there with the big players. And this is due to my sole enterprise now being Portraiture encompassing commercial, editorial, industrial, entertainment, artistic and cultural purposes.
The year began with two commercial assignments the first with a commercial uniform supplier and the second with impressive costume jewellery designers, Halo & Co. I conducted a series of challenging yet rewarding shoots of models decked out in the most glorious signature costume pieces. I captured the detail in order to delight the viewer, and I’m honoured to have been a part helping to establish this inspiring company on the international jewellery design scene.
Spring and Summer saw my diary go crazy as I met an explosion of requests from both established and up-and-coming actors. I lived and breathed headshots for Spotlight and other casting websites. I attribute this success due to 2014’s Northerners Exhibition where I set the trend for modern Portraiture sittings with well-known names like Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen. I’ve felt privileged to work with such inspiring professionals, both new and old-hands, from pantomime to theatre and film. Memorable sittings include those with Michael Thomson (Pictured Right) (Jonny Maconie in BBC’s Holby City), Luke Bailey (Sam Bateman in TV’s Casualty), Matthew Morley (star of Hollywood Blockbuster “Fury”) and the one to keep an eye on, teenage actor Lewis Hamilton, star of CBBC Comedy Series, The Dumping Ground.
Alongside this I expanded my Corporate Headshot Services. We live in an “instant visual” age, and these headshots are becoming key in identifying and defining commercial and public professionals. I have completed commissions from firms such as Bunzl Retail – requiring shoots of large teams – to Zenith Chambers (Leeds) who required portraits of individual barristers and paralegals. My friendly and professional approach is welcomed across the spectrum of various corporations, from high-powered board members to all members of staff.
Famous faces have hit the Rory Lewis lenses again this year. I’ve commenced work on three new exciting exhibition projects, the first of which is entitled “Expressive”. Expressive explores professional actors from all walks of life, from across the globe.
The Expressive Project began back in February with a trip to Los Angeles to complete a sitting with Star Trek’s William Shatner (Above). I admit, I have been an avid Trekkie since the age of 7, so I was a little like a kid in a sweet shop. This was an incredible chance to work with a Screen Legend, a dream come true to work with the iconic Captain Kirk and TJ Hooker. It was a speedy sitting owing to time schedules, but worth every second of it. Whilst in Los Angeles I also encompassed a shoot with a star of the future Star Trek Generation, Brent Spiner. (Below) It was an absolute pleasure working with Brent who proved himself to be a natural in front of the camera: making a highly rewarding session for me, creating a vast array of expressions.
These two sittings were a fantastic springboard for the Expressive Project. Back on English soil I arranged sittings in London with Steven Berkoff. Infamous for being a difficult character to work with, I entered the shoot feeling somewhat intimidated. However, he’s nothing like the villainous creation of many of his movies, but in fact I found him to be a warm and thoughtful man whose essence I was able to capture completely as well as an amazingly evil portrait that instils drama and suspicion in the eye of the beholder. (Below)
Jumping back across The Pond once again in September I undertook Portrait sitting with Actor and Star of Star Trek Deep Space Nine René Auberjonois (a descendant of Napoleon no less) and a Prince whose family gave up their title when they moved to America at the turn of the century. Additionally, this trip involved sittings with Armin Shimerman, Robert Picardo and Breaking Bad’s Mark Margolis (Below) who I simply bumped in to in my hotel.
One of my most enjoyable Expressive sittings was with Andy Robinson,(Right) famed for playing the Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry, the first psychopathic killer to hit our screens. Capturing this incredible evil expression with piercing fierce eyes was truly a memorable moment. Having admired his work once for with my Trekkie hat on when he played Garak the Cardassian Tailor in Star Trek’s Deep Space Nine, I was once again thrilled to be working with such a personality. Expressive was exhibited in Liverpool and London in October. Proving itself a success, I gained sponsorship from the exhibition from Calumet Photographic, Mamiya and Hahnemühle. I was delighted that the Exhibition was featured in both Local and National Press and Television, making my accomplishment all the more enjoyable.
I was commissioned by Cancer Research UK to undertake pictures for their campaign promoting Bowel Cancer Awareness. Knowing I was involved in such a worthwhile and much much-needed campaign was humbling and exhilarating in equal measure. Working with individuals who have suffered with such greatness, yet thrived in recovery, was a shoot I won’t forget. Additionally, smaller commissions flooded in for product and clothing photography.
Word spreads in the World of Photography: it matters deeply to people that they feel comfortable behind the lens and in the resulting images. Therefore, as my reputation has grown I am seeing more and more commissions from Actors, Singers, Dancers, Models, Musicians and Entertainers to be used for promotional material. Following in the groove I set in 2014 I continue to move further away from the sphere of fashion to deeper work, concentrating on my love of all things Portraiture. I love helping aspiring talent to promote their faces and will continue to do so throughout 2016.
Additionally, I’m looking to continue to offer model portfolio services with limited monthly sessions in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and London. Again, I love knowing I’ve played a part in helping models take their first steps in to the industry by providing them with powerful portfolio pieces.
My background as a History Graduate continues to drive my passion for capturing Historical Portraiture, combining my knowledge and ability as a historian with my skills as a Portrait Photographer. I have such a passion for this area of my work, blending the different aspects of my interests and abilities. Therefore I began a new project entitled Portraitist. This fascinating project combined by love of renaissance portraiture with my love of photography in to one exceptional outcome, capturing the faces of power from the Military to Political spheres. The project has seen me walking the Halls of Power with sittings in Whitehall, the DWP, Army HQ (Andover), Royal Air Force HQ (High Wycombe) and New Scotland Yard. The project is gaining success all the time, and following letters of invitation, has included eminent figures including Baron William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Lt. General James Everard and Sir Bernard Hogan Howe (Left).
The sitting with William Hague (Above) was incredibly rewarding. I have yearned for the chance to work with a truly significant British historical character. Hague’s name is synonymous with modern political discourse and assertions of power and influence, but to meet him in person you would not think it. Incredibly ‘human’ and real, he is a very witty man who was reeling off jokes throughout the sitting. He held himself beautifully for the portrait, so well in fact that I was able to capture the essence of one of my favourite Holbein pieces, dignified and full of grace and authority.
On the back of the sitting with William Hague, I did another portrait photo-shoot with Iain Duncan Smith. (Below) Working once more with a veteran of power and controversy was both inspiring and rewarding. I’m hoping to build on this type of sitting in 2016, avidly looking forward to another addition to the Portraitist Exhibition which will see me directing a shoot with former Prime Minister, Sir John Major, as well as other political and military figures’ sessions that I have in the pipeline.
The third project that I commenced in 2015 I have entitled Ambassadors, inspired by the intrigue of Holbein’s Ambassadors Portrait. London is a city home to hundreds of political missions and I have long harboured the desire to meet and work with important figures from many different countries and backgrounds. The Ambassadors Project saw me visit the Mexican (Below), Italian, Estonian, Danish, Austrian and Swiss Embassies in a bid to photograph each Ambassador. More Embassy sittings are booked for 2016 and I’ve looking forward to adding to this project with commissions from Attachés and members of political commissions.
The three projects, Expressive, Portraitist and Ambassadors, have enabled me to expand my knowledge of portraiture, allowing me to try new methods and ways of working, building on my already successful skill-base. Working in such a creative profession, I consider it essential to test myself and push forward expanding my limits. Projects enable me personally, to document my growth as a professional. This has been particularly rewarding as I have seen a blend of all my personal passions combining science fiction and history in an eclectic mix in my work.
Learning and sharing continues to fuel my desires, and I’m proud and delighted to be continuing to offer a vast array of Photography Workshops as well as one-to-one Portrait Tuitions in Liverpool, Manchester, London and Edinburgh. Meeting with new students and sharing my love of portrait photography, techniques, direction and lighting, is enjoyable not only because I get to share my joy for this expressive profession, but also because it enables me to self-reflect on how something works, and why I choose it. I enjoy inspiring photographers to create thought-provoking portraiture of their own by incorporating my professional techniques honed over years in the business. This in turn enables them to hone and develop their own skills, whether amateur or professional, working with both the latest equipment and amazing professional models.
Learning and Development via Rory Lewis Photography throughout 2015 has been partnered with Calumet Photographic. I have taken great pleasure delivering seminars throughout their network of branches. I have also enjoyed leading Calumet’s official Blog, reviewing equipment and writing about tips and techniques. I was thrilled to be asked to judge Calumet’s Student Photographer of the Year Competition. It was an honour to help select the winner of this prestigious prize which was presented at the Photography Show.
Building on my desire to ‘spread the word’ both within the field of Photography and to a wider audience, 2015 has seen me publish two books: Portraitist and Expressive. The first sees me passing on my thoughts surrounding Photographic Portraiture by offering lighting techniques and the stories behind my many, and varied, Portrait Sittings. Expressive is my first coffee table book, designed to be perused and dipped in to showcasing some of my favourite Portrait Sittings from the year including Brent Spiner, Steven Berkoff, Andy Robinson, Robert Picardo and many other renowned male thespians.
Additionally, I have enjoyed having both my images and reviews of my work published in several magazines and trade editorials including Photo Professional Magazine, the RPS London, Profoto’s Blog, and Photo Plus magazine (Above). I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing my latest work, tricks, and techniques with such a diverse readership base. My work has also been acquired by newspapers and editorials through Image Syndication, it was fun and rewarding to see my portraits of Luis Suarez (Below) in the Shortlist Magazine, and my image of Sir Ian McKellen in the Mirror.
2016 looks set to be another exciting year. I will be returning to Los Angeles for a month in April to undertake more Portrait Sittings. Fuelling my Trekkie passions I have started another Project looking to exhibit portraits of Star Trek actors in order to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the show. Through using a Kickstarter to help fund the project, I have raised over £2500 enabling me to devote more time in 2016 to additional Star Trek actor sittings, including one with Walter Koenig who played Chekov, as well as many other names from the TV series and movies.
2016 is also going to be the year I look to expand my Portrait Practice in London. Building a growing reputation for Portraiture in the capital is my number-one goal for the forthcoming year. Of course, my devotion to Learning and Development will continue with tours of both the UK and USA offering Portrait Photography Masterclasses and One-to-One tuition.
Wherever and however you run into Rory Lewis Photography in 2016, you can be sure that something exciting is afoot. Wishing all my supporters and followers a very Happy New year, with 2016 set to be even bigger and momentous than my thoroughly enjoyable 2015.
Retiring from the Army senior military leader Major General Tim Robinson CBE, commissioned a portrait at Army Head quarters in Andover. With a military career spanning two decades, seeing active service and leading troops in Iraq, Bosnia and Northern Ireland. Faced with such a distinguished military sitter I directed the General to assume solemn and reflective poses; as to mirror his achievements and responsibilities. The General really enjoyed the experience and was fascinated by my lighting and directional methods.
Portraits are very important to military personal, to be captured in Uniform looking ones best and in full finery can fill one with pride for the service. I offer a compressive service to Members of the Armed Forces, RAF, Royal Navy and Army who are looking to capture a professional portrait. Available at studios in Central London and in Central Liverpool; or on Location.
Actor Charlie Hiscock young star of the Borrowers, arranged an Actors Headshots update session at the Liverpool Studio this week. It was wonderful to meet Charlie and I hope his career is a successful one, it was wonderful to listen to stories about his experiences filming the Borrowers and the celebrities he encountered. Based in Liverpool and holding sessions monthly in Manchester, Leeds & London studios. I have developed my own unique style of working with actors ensuring their photographic headshot experience is an enjoyable; relaxed session; to create the very best in Actors Headshots.
As a London Portrait Photographer you learn very quickly. A picture does speak a thousand words, but not so when it comes to History Portrait Photography. These pictures need only speak two words: authenticity and power. When it comes to this style of photography the photographer needs to play by the rules: rules that are subtle to grasp, comprehend and activate, making the game difficult to play. Yet the end result needs to look effortless. Such photos are one of the truest documents of history and society, particularly for those holding positions of power and influence in the beating power centre of London – but also elsewhere.
Normally two characters are displayed in portraiture: the character of the subject and the character of the photographer. The photographer is aiming to capture the mood, expression and personality of subject. With History Portraiture, the photographer needs to take an apparent backseat, becoming invisible to the end result, presenting objectivity which enables the viewer their own subjectivity. This is a skill, an art form in itself – to appear to effortlessly capture through artistic ability the true appearance of the sitter, the authentic appearance, whilst exuding power. The result should be a deep and detailed portrait, yet a blank slate on which can rest the viewer’s own opinions. (Lt General James Everard Left)
I have an understated passion for Modern History Portrait Photography. In my time studying History at Kings College, London, I spent my days pondering on numerous historical figures gazing down on me and providing the inner voice of judgement on my student-lifestyle. I became fascinated by the pictures, searching for the 1000 words but finding just the two. I -had to do the understanding, the opinion-forming, no lazy back-of-the lecture-theatre effort allowed here. I found myself asking: what motivated the artist? Did the sitter approve, like, or dislike the artist’s representation? Were the portraits politically driven for propaganda or were they true to history?
I feel privileged to combine this passion, this appreciation of these individual’s place in history by becoming a photographer, called upon to utilise my expertise in lighting techniques, direction and even inventive scenarios to capture some of the most key people of our age.
In these shoots, here is a clear need to guarantee authority, the exemplary status, and in some cases the immortality of the sitter. These portraits need to stand the test of time like no other. To achieve this air of power and authority, the photographer needs to set the individual in a plain, yet solemn expression. The photographer is neutral, the sitter a vessel of unadorned vigour. How does this look in reality? This portrait of Baron William Hague of Richmond, commissioned just after the General Election of 2015 when Hague announced his retirement from politics, is a perfect example. The usually affable and jovial character portrayed in the media has instead been replaced with true authenticity and exudes the aura of a powerful political figure with a career spanning 30 years. I have kept the portrait neutral to allow you, the viewer, to make up your own mind and to form your own opinions.
Similarly this atmosphere of power can be seen in my portrait of General Sir Nicholas Houghton, Chief of Defence Staff, which was published in the Telegraph Newspaper. The commission came from the Ministry of Defence, looking for a portrait which can be used across a range official publications. As is often important when working with subjects who have busy agendas and high-profile responsibilities, the shoot was brought to the heart of power in Whitehall itself. My role, the game I needed to play, involved directing the General in order to project an air of solemnity whilst holding a plain expression. The result is an authoritative yet commanding portrait of this modern day historical figure. The image fits the historical context of military portraiture: a juxtaposition of simplicity and complexity.
At a recent London Portrait Sitting with Iain Duncan-Smith I dodged the ball of political controversy to remain true to the elements of the history portrait. The public, along with current and future historians, will have their own opinion, my role is to allow this judgement to be formed and to sit comfortably with the image portrayed. The viewer can subconsciously overlay their own viewpoint on the portrait.My aim is to allow my integral presence in the shoot become invisible in the end result, allowing the portrait to become a blank canvas for the viewer’s opinion. I aim, from behind the camera and through directing the shoot, to place these eminent figures elegantly yet timelessly in to their place in history.
‘Expressive‘ Portrait Exhibition moved from Liverpool and opened in London last night. It was wonderful to meet everyone share stories from the sittings and preview my latest portraits. The exhibition will be open to the public at Calumet Photographic’s Gallery space on Drummond Street until 22nd November 2015. Pop along and have a closer look at some of the worlds most recognised acting talent, including Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Mark Margolis, Ian McShane and many more. Don’t forget to tweet your favourites and opinions #rorylewisexpressive.
This month at the Liverpool Studio actress Jennifer Walsh arranged her Actors Headshots Session to update her Spotlight Acting Page. Jennifer opted for Package One, photoshoot including three retouched images presented in both Black & White and Colour. It was wonderful to work with Jennifer who very kindly wrote a review of her experience below.
Written on: 25/10/2015 Via Reviewcentre.com
“From the moment I read Rory’s website I knew I wanted him to take my Headshots. I loved his background and passion for headshot photography. I contacted him and booked online – it was quick, easy and his correspondence was excellent, friendly and I was excited to attend the photoshoot. I took my sister along and as soon as we arrived we loved the arty environment in the heart of Liverpool. We found parking easy and were kindly shown to Rory’s studio by another chap working for the Retro cinema. Rory had an assistant trainee and this was fab as we could learn some tricks of the trade whilst he took my photos. He showed me the shots all the way through and I loved them. I knew I had the headshot I wanted within the first 5 mins as he is such a wonderful photographer with a great eye and making you feel so relaxed so portraying your true self. He also knows what the industry and Spotlight look for so he directs you throughout the shoot. He is courteous, friendly and fun and made the whole experience perfect.
When I received the final retouched Headshots I was so thrilled they were wonderful. I will certainly use him again in the future and I would highly recommend any actor or individual wanting Headshots or photography to contact Rory. You will be thrilled with the result.”
Ambassador Claus Grube is one of Denmark’s most experienced diplomats notably in EU matters, he is the Danish Ambassador to the United Kingdom. I was delighted as the Ambassador accepted my invitation to sit for a portrait to be featured in my ‘Ambassadors Project‘. Grube a well respected politician took up his new position as Ambassador in the UK on 1 October 2013. Since then, his home has been the Ambassador’s Residence in the Arne Jacobsen-designed embassy building in Sloane Street.
I visited the embassy last week to capture the portrait. Before taking up the position in London Claus Grube was Permanent Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, and prior to this appointment enjoyed an extensive career within the Ministry. I wanted to capture a series of portraits which reflected the Ambassadors, wonderful personality and the responsibilities of his office.
Canon’s 700D is a perfect Mid/Entry Level DSLR with a good range of features, controls and a wonderful articulated touch-screen. Having touch screen ability makes it quick and easy to change settings. With an 18 million APS-C sized sensor and hybrid focus 9 cross-type AF points system for use in live view or video mode it is a comprehensive camera. The APS sized sensor actually has some benefits over the “Full Frame” ones if you are considering nature photography because all the lenses crop by a factor of x1.4 which means you get closer to the action for less money. Ideal if you are on a constrained budget.
The supplied 18-55 F3.5 – 5.6 lens is image stabilised and uses the newest (STM) stepper motor. This new motor is very fast and totally silent, unlike the old USM lenses which made noise during video mode. This kit lens is certainly a major step-forward from the old 18-55 non-IS lenses canon once suppled with their cameras.
The screen is side hinged & can be viewed from a multitude of angles. A good trick I found is that when taking a”selfie” you rotate the screen to point towards the yourself, the camera automatically enters Live View mode. The quality of the screen is excellent, colour, contrast & brightness are superb. The touchscreen is fairly responsive & the interface is easy to use. The 700d is a major improvement over the 350d, enabling more freedom to experiment with settings quickly such as TV, AV & M modes.
The camera has a live view function, can autofocus in live view. This is a real treat on a SLR as it enables some additional creativity during composition but it is not a replacement for the viewfinder. The Canon 700D takes full HD video, full 1080dpi. You can view a sample of the video quality on Canons Website. You will be able to capture a few hours onto a 32Gb card. Just ensure you have a fast enough card, I recommend 45mbps SD Cards. One of the main problems with the earlier models was the noise caused by the lens motor during shooting. The as mentioned earlier new STM lenses alleviate this problem by having near-silent stepper motors. I would still recommend a microphone for recording sound, either and Rode or sennheiser.