1st Battalion, The Rifles Portrait Sittings

Soldiery (British Army Portraits) was one of the most challenging projects of my career. Now the exhibitions are completed I can take the opportunity to publish a selection of portraits from the sittings.

The subjects of my first photoshoot, where the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, The Rifles. I discovered little has changed since the Napoleonic Wars. The Rifles, are still at the forefront of battle, trained as marksmen. They don’t carry a flag. Instead, their Battle Honours are carried on Parade uniforms.

Lieutenant Baldwin 1st Battalion The Rifles (Rory Lewis Photographer 2018) Military Portrait Photographer (London)

Captain Massey 1st Battalion The Rifles (Rory Lewis Photographer 2018) Military Portrait Photographer (London)

Each Rifleman is entrusted with the Battle Honours of the regiment, wearing a representative selection of Battle Honours. On the Belt Plate there are 34 Battle Honours represented, inherited from the forming and antecedent regiments.

Sergeant Bugle Major Lewis 1st Battalion The Rifles (Rory Lewis Photographer 2018) Military Portrait Photographer (London)

The bugle has traditionally been used in the past both to communicate with, and to direct Riflemen. The bugle was adopted for use in the 18th century, as it was light and easy to use unlike the cumbersome drum. It’s clear note could be heard for up to three miles whereas a drum signal became indistinct. It was originally an ox bugle but later made in silver which gave a clearer note.

Rifleman Woods 1st Battalion The Rifles (Rory Lewis Photographer 2018) Military Portrait Photographer (London)

The bugle is central to The Rifles’ musical traditions, but music has been carried forward and is still used today. Daily routine in the battalions is marked by bugle calls, and The Rifles sound, rather than beat, Retreat. They have gained a sort of fame over the years, largely due to the ‘Sharpe’ series.

Rifleman Armour 1st Battalion The Rifles (Rory Lewis Photographer 2018) Military Portrait Photographer (London)

Upon arrival at Chepstow, where The Rifles are based, I was greeted by a young officer no more than 23-years- of-age. It was here I found myself behind the lens for the first time, photographing soldiers as young as 18. It’s a humbling and awe-inspiring thought, to truly realise how young many of these soldiers are, and the careers they will go on to have.

Captain Axford 1st Battalion The Rifles (Rory Lewis Photographer 2018) Military Portrait Photographer (London)

Soldiery British Army Portraits The National Army Museum 31st January 2018

Two years in the making and Soldiery British Army Portraits opened at The National Army Museum in London on 31st January 2018. It was wonderful to finally hang the work in its rightful home. The event was attended by dozens of guests from sitters who posed for the project to VIP’s and members of the Public. After a reception the guests enjoyed a talk about the project by myself and General Sir James Everard, KCB, CBE.

Soldiery British Army Portraits National Army Museum 31st January 2018

Delighted to show the final work to the Public I listened to their opinions and explained the inspiration behind the portraits. I also had the chance to reconnect with several of the sitters who attended the evening. Now the project is complete I feel sad it’s actually over. Soldiery was a highly enjoyable experience, working with the incredible men and women of The British Army. The exhibition hung till the 14th February engaging 100’s of visitors with my portraiture.

Soldiery British Army Portraits National Army Museum 31st January 2018

Soldiery British Army Portraits National Army Museum 31st January 2018

General Sir James Everard, KCB, CBE (Left), Rory Lewis Photographer (Right)

 

British Life Photography Awards

Pleased to announce that a Portrait of British Army Soldier Sergeant Seeto, captured as part of Rory Lewis Soldiery British Army Portraits Exhibition. Entered into the British Life Photography Awards has received a commendation.

 

The Awards are a showcase of contemporary and imaginative images that capture the essence and spirit of British life. Winners and commended entrants will have their work on show at the Royal Albert Hall, Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar, and be included in a full colour book.

Sergeant Seeto Adjutant General’s Corps (Rory Lewis Photographer Soldiery)

Professional Photo Magazine November 2018

Thank you to the Team at Professional Photo Magazine, for publishing a feature on Soldiery British Army Portraits. Soldiery has been a long term project which has taken over 2 years to photograph. The exhibition will be coming to the National Army Musuem from the 31st January – 6th February 2018. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the collection which has captured the tradition and diversity of the Modern British Army.

Professional Photo Magazine Cover Rory Lewis

Field Marshal The Lord Guthrie Portrait Sitting

Soldiery as a project, has given me the opportunity to indulge my historical ambitions. One of these creative urges has been to photograph a British Field Marshal.

 

Field Marshal is the most senior rank of the British Army. Higher than all the Generals I’ve captured thus far. Considered a five star rank in today’s modern militaries. In the British Army, Field Marshal has been the most senior rank since 1736.

 

Since the end of Empire, the rank has become somewhat redundant, this is due to the reduction in the size of Britain’s Armed Forces. The rank is now ceremonial, a gift of recognition from the sovereign to senior military figures, and bestowed on members of the Royal Family.

 

I wrote to several Field Marshal’s and to my delight a reply, Field Marshal The Lord Guthrie accepted my invitation to sit for a Portrait in London.

 

Field Marshal Guthrie, Baron Guthrie of CraigiebankGCBLVOOBEDL was Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, from 1994 to 1997 and Chief of the Defence Staff from 1997 until his retirement in 2001.

Field Marshal The Lord Guthrie Portrait Sitting, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Guthrie’s military career saw service with the Welsh Guards and the Special Air Service; he was closely involved in military operations in Northern Ireland and provided advice to the British Government during the Bosnian War and the Kosovo War.

 

In 2012 Lord Guthrie was handed his Field Marshal’s Baton, in recognition of his remarkable leadership and service by Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II . You can view a Pathe News Clip of another Field Marshal Jan Smuts being handed his Baton back in 1941.

(Below Field Marshals Baton Presented to Field Marshal Jan Smuts OM, CH, ED, PC, KC, FRS)

The Baton is the main symbol of office, only given to Field Marshals. It stems back to ancient origins; namely those of the Roman Empire. A short heavy white Baton was a symbol of  the Imperial Mandate given to Roman Military Legates. The Legate would hold the baton upon high, proclaiming, “above your head and mine to represent the power of the emperor”.

 

The British Field Marshal’s Baton is a symbol of the magnitude of office. The figure of St George and the Dragon is at the top, and at the bottom an inscription from The Queen to Lord Guthrie. The body of the Baton is covered with red velvet.

 

Field Marshal The Lord Guthrie Portrait Sitting, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Looking for inspiration I started with Sir Thomas Lawrence, studying his portraits of the Duke of Wellington.  Neo Classical in Style; Lawrence painted the Iron Duke on several occasions. His most vivid depiction, a triumphant portrait of Wellington which dominates the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle. Lawrence’s composition is that of victory, heralding Wellington as the finest of military commanders and the liberator of Europe.

Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830)
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) 1814-15

Then I moved on to looking at Singer Sargent’s portrait of Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts. The work similar to Sir Thomas Lawrence’s neo-classical depictions.  I turned to photography, browsing the National Portrait Gallery archive, I discovered the photographer Alexander Bassano, who photographed Field Marshal Hague. The portrait captured in a solemn and dutiful style, the depictions relay the finery, yet the obligation and commitment of Hague’s role.

Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig by Bassano Ltd whole-plate glass negative, 19 July 1921 Alexander Bassano

With all this in mind I set to work, with a desire to create my own interpretation. Using a red velvet backdrop, I aimed to recreate the symbolism of the fire and blood, that is the Red Coat. The British Military Uniform associated with energy, war, danger, strength and Royal power. These words associate with the office of Field Marshal. Full finery was the order of the day, medals, orders, and number one dress uniform. Wanting to portray Lord Guthrie as the man he is; the Commander held in immense regard.

 

The positions directed for the sitting are reflective, shooting from a low angle to make Lord Guthrie look prominent and tall. Harsh lighting is utilised to preserve the detail. To me the Portrait is historical , a document, all the detail must be safeguarded. With this in mind I hope I’ve done my predecessors, proud in this my first portrait sitting with a British Field Marshal. Currently I’m accepting public & private commissions both Military and Non Military for Portrait Sittings so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

HyperFocal: 0 (Rory Lewis)

Soldiery (British Army Portraits Book)

(The Book) Soldiery (British Army Portraits)

By Rory Lewis (Author, Photographer),‎ General Sir James Everard KCB CBE (Foreword)

 

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.

Soldiery (British Army Portraits)

Limited Edition Hardback Version Printed on Ultra High Quality Pearl Photographic Paper

 

Click Here to Purchase from Blurb’s Online Bookstore

Size Standard Portrait, 8×10 in, 21×26 cm

ISBN Hardcover: 9781389099632

£69.99

 


Paperback Version Available from Amazon

  • Size Standard Portrait, 8×10 in, 21×26 cm

  • ISBN Paperback: 9781983403057

  • £22.99