2017 Year in Review

2017 has indeed been a year of serious portraiture seeing some BIG NAMES in front of my lens. From former Prime Minister Sir John Major, to Actors Rufus Sewell, Stephen Graham and Hugh Bonneville. 2017 gave me the opportunity to  complete Soldiery. Bringing this mammoth collection of 278 British Army Portraits to a finish. Publishing a book, holding a charity preview evening for the Army Benevolent fund at Armed Forces Day Liverpool raising over £2000,00. Preparing for the Exhibition Proper at the National Army Museum which takes place in January of this year. I’ve received serious recognition as a portrait photographer. Winning the Portrait of Britain, and being commended in the British Life Photography Awards. Two more of my portraits have been acquired by The National Portrait Gallery in London, and my work has received international attention. I have continued to teach workshops across the UK, London, Manchester and Edinburgh, and expanded my practice offering even more Photography Workshops in the USA, Los Angeles, Boston & New York.

 

Soldiery

2017 was indeed the year of Soldiery portrait sittings . Firstly in January, with the men and women of The British Army’s Attack Helicopter Force in Ipswich, who pilot the truly magnificent Apache Helicopters.  Then moving on to the Household Cavalry’s Mechanised Battalion in Windsor. Where I was able to capture the non ceremonial elements of the Regiment. The Battalion sits within the Reactive Force of the British Army and is ready to respond to crises anywhere around the world. Photographing the ceremonial battalion of the regiment in 2016, it was interesting to see the contrast between a working Cavalry Battalion with over 300 horses and a modern mechanised battalion with Armoured Vehicles.

(Left) Corporal of Horse Mulholland
Household Cavalry Regiment (Right|) Captain Lee
Attack Helicopter Force

Soldiery Sittings continued in January with The Royal Tank Regiment in Tidworth. The Royal Tank Regiment is the oldest tank unit in the world, forged out of the adversity of the First World War. The regiment is equipped with Challenger 2 tanks. Soldiers of RTR wear a black beret and black overalls, a custom reserved to the Regiment unlike any other tank regiment in the British Army. A black beret was selected as it would not show oil stains. I felt quite at home as many of the soldiers of the Regiment appeared to be from Liverpool. In essence the regiment appeared to be half Liverpudlian and half Glaswegian. Two peoples of a similar sense of humour, the soldiers regiment seemed to get along swimmingly. Again I had the chance to photograph the Soldiers posing with the Powerful Challenger 2 Battle Tank, and create a series of remarkable portraits of all the regiments states of dress. (Behind the Scenes Video Below)

Tpr Millward Royal Tank Regiment

In March Major General Susan Ridge a senior British Army officer and lawyer, and the first women to hold the rank of Major General in the British Army Sat for a Soldiery Portrait. Since September 2015, Ridge has been Director General of the Army Legal Services Branch(DGALS).

Major General Susan Ridge

In April I returned a 2nd time to the 1st Battalion, The Rifles. As a young teenager I admired the television series Sharpe, and when contemplating the project this loomed large in my mind for quite some time. The soldiers portrayed by the main protagonists, Sean Bean (Major Richard Sharpe) and Daragh O’Malley (Sgt Patrick Harper) belonged to the 95th Rifles, during the Peninsula Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars. Though an heroic fictional portrayal, I endeavoured to lean more of the bravery of these soldiers. When compiling my list of regimental sitting requests the Rifles where on the top of my list. Since the Napoleonic Wars the 95th has seen several amalgamations, now forming The Rifles, the largest regiment in the British Army.

Rifleman Armour 1st Battalion The Rifles

My final Infantry regimental sittings of my Soldiery Portrait Project took place in June with The Coldstream Guards. Formed in 1650 as part of the New Model Army during the English Civil War. The regiment swore allegiance to King Charles II in 1660 and has guarded the country’s monarchs since. The Coldstream Guards have two roles in the British Army. The first is as of an Infantry unit famous for being the oldest regiment in the British Army in continuous service. The second is of a ceremonial Battalion trained to be involved in any state or royal ceremonial tasks.

 

The regiment epitomises the British Army’s values and standards: selfless commitment, respect for others, loyalty, integrity, discipline and courage. Drawing strength from its heritage to face the challenges of the future, the Regiment lives by its motto, ‘Nulli Secundus’ or ‘Second to None’. My sittings with the regiment, took place at the historic Wellington Barracks in London, where I was able to capture the Guardsmen before the changing of the guard. The sitting was also captured on video see below.

Drummer Steele 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards Military Portrait Photographer London Rory Lewis

Next to the Kings Royal Hussars  & Royal Scots Dragoon Guards the Final Regimental Sittings of the Soldiery Project. Based in Tidworth, Wiltshire, The King’s Royal Hussars is a British armoured regiment with a long history and great cavalry traditions. The regiment currently serves in the armoured role, equipped with Challenger 2 tanks. The regiment wears the iconic crimson trousers when in ceremonial, No. 1 or No, 2 dress. As you notice from the portrait the soldiers wear the crossed kukri of the Gurkhas as an arm badge. This relates back to 1945 when C Squadron, 14th/20th King’s Hussars assaulted the town of Medicina in Italy alongside the 2nd Battalion, 6th Gurkha Rifles, inflicting heavy losses on the German defenders despite being outnumbered. In commemoration of this action the 14th/20th King’s Hussars adopted the crossed kukri badge, a tradition maintained by the regiment. My inspiration of the portrait, came from a portrait by Emanuel Leutze,

Officers of The Kings Royal Hussars

My final Cavalry Regiment of the Soldiery Project and a trip to Scotland, Fife to be exact. Was to photograph the Troopers of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabineers and Greys) – or SCOTSDG – was formed in 1971 by an amalgamation between 3rd Carabineers and The Royal Scots Greys. The Regiment has been deployed in numerous operations around the world in the forty- five years which have followed.

Sergeant Mitchell MC

Having served in Northern Ireland, the Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, three tours in Iraq and three tours in Afghanistan, SCOTSDG is a cavalry Regiment with wide operational experience. One of those troopers who sat for a portrait. Sergeant Keith Mitchell a recipient of the Military Cross. Risked his life to save wounded comrades in Afghanistan was commended for his “courage and selflessness” under re. He stood in open ground to draw enemy re away from his colleagues in an attack in Helmand in March of 2012. It was an honour to meet Sergeant Mitchell, who also gave me a tour of the Barracks and the incredible artefacts the regiment has acquired through their bravery.

 

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. The rank 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.

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

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.

 

Wrapping up Soldiery, my final sitting took place with the Chief of the General Staff General Sir Nick Carter. Carter assumed the position of Commander Land Forces in November 2013. In September 2014, he became head of the British Army as Chief of the General Staff succeeding General Sir Peter Wall. The portrait will also hang on the wall of all previous Chiefs of the General Staff dating back to Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery in 1945.

General Sir Nicholas Carter, KCB, CBE, DSO, ADC Military Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

In June 2017 a company of the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry took up the temporary role of mounting the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace. The honour usually falls to the British Army’s Household Division. However, other Commonwealth Nations get a chance at protecting the Queen every now and again. Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry is based in Shilo, Manitoba, Canada. Named after Princess Patricia of Connaught, daughter of the then-Governor General of Canada. Contacting the regiment upon their arrival in London. I arranged a series of portrait sittings with the company at Wellington Barracks, before they mounted the Queens Guard. The sitting gave me the chance to record living History, Canadian Regiments rarely appear in London for state duties. (The sittings captured on video Below).

2017 was been a very busy year Stateside, I made four trips to Los Angeles, in February, May, September and October. For the first time I began to offer Actors Headshots Sessions with a great deal of success and will continue to do so in 2018, with even more trips to LA planned. I’ve enjoyed working with household names like Josh Clark and Greg Itzin, creating new Headshots for Hollywood Stars.

Jason McBeth LA Actors Headshots

Greg Itzin Rory Lewis Los Angeles Portrait Photographer

 

Bruce Green LA Actors Headshots

In February during a trip Los Angeles to teach a Portrait Masterclass at Samy’s Cameras Photo School. 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.

John de Lancie
American Actor Character Actor Portfolios London & Los Angeles

I was also able to fit in a few portrait sittings of my own. Caravaggio has been of great inspiration to my recent Portrait Photoshoots. Recreating the animation and religious tones of his work has been a challenge. Thus I invited three actors to help me recreate this style of portraiture. Firstly the remarkable film and stage presence Tony Amendola, who took upon the role of a fallen priest. Ripping the collar from his neck with a wonderful vigorous expression; captured profile, whilst reciting a powerful soliloquy to camera.

Tony Amendola Los Angeles Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Back in London in March, actor Stephen Graham and fellow scouser. Who is best known for his roles as Tommy in the film Snatch(2000), Andrew “Combo” Gascoigne in This Is England (2006), Billy Bremner in The Damned United (2009), notorious bank robber Baby Face Nelson in Public Enemies (2009), Scrum in the Pirates of the Caribbeanfilms and he starred as Al Capone in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

Stephen accepted my invitation to sit for a portrait at the London Studio last week. I’ve admired his work for many years. Graham is a screen icon, exceptionally talented and known for playing no-nonsense gritty characters. I aimed to capture Stephens métier in my portraits, asking him to pose as emotionless, then changing to capture fierce and angry expressions.

Stephen Graham Film Actor Character Actor Portfolios London & Los Angeles

Hugh Bonneville was next in May 2017 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.

Hugh Bonneville London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

 

Often commissioned by Corporate & Government Clients for Portrait Sittings. I’m no stranger to photographing headshots of prominent business, legal and political officials. Non of these sittings have been more unique than a photoshoot with Sir John Major, former Prime Minister of Great Britain.

 

I wrote to Sir John in 2016 to arrange the sitting and we decided to shoot in the Autumn of that year. However, Brexit came upon us and the sitting was postponed. Sir John, being a remain campaigner had to take time out. It wasn’t until July 2017, that the sitting could finally take place.

 

To prepare for my sitting, I began by studying Sir John’s portrait sitting with Yousuf Karsh, before watching his interviews and parliamentary debates on Youtube. I also read Sir John’s Autobiography to get a sense of his character and career as Prime Minister.

 

Preparation complete, my plan was to capture Sir John as the elder statesman, thoughtful and reflective. I found Major to be an extraordinary sitter. Speaking about his career, I was able to direct Sir John as he mediated on the past. One of my aims as a portraitist is to record the figures of our time, and this sitting certainly represents living history.

Sir John Major, KG, CH, PC Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Chelsea Pensioner Dougie Hassall is a very extraordinary pensioner. Reaching the grand old age of 100. The Royal Hospital in London Commissioned me to capture his portrait. It was a very humbling and remarkable experience for me to shake the hands of a 100 year old man. Dougie’s secret to old age, be kind to one another and live each day to the full. Hassall the oldest sitter of my career is a World War Two Veteran, captured by the Japanese Army in 1941, and was a Prisoner of War for three-and-a-half years working at the docks in Saigon.

Douglas Hassall Chelsea Pensioner London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Portrait of Britain is presented by British Journal of Photography. Photographer Rory Lewis portrait of Captain Anani-Isaac of The Royal Lancers. Captured for Soldiery (British Army Portraits), has been selected to appear in a Nationwide Exhibition. Shortlisted from 8000 entires, 100 Portraits of the exhibition will go live on Friday 1st September 2017. Portrait of Britain is being billed as the UK’s biggest exhibition of portraiture. Being exhibited across JCDecaux’s nationwide screens, appearing in public places throughout the UK. Limited Edition Prints are also on sale via the Portrait of Britain Website.

 

Portrait of Britain is presented by British Journal of Photography. Photographer Rory Lewis portrait of Captain Anani-Isaac of The Royal Lancers. Captured for Soldiery (British Army Portraits), has been selected to appear in a Nationwide Exhibition.

In October making use of all my time in LA I was able to fit in a Portrait Sitting with Actor Rufus Sewell. The sitting had been on the cards for quite some time and I was lucky Rufus was in town on a break from filming The Man In The High Castle. I’m only sharing one portrait from the sitting as the below has been acquired by The National Portrait Gallery in London. The shoot was very memorable, I’ve admired his work for many years and the chance to direct and photograph Rufus was a wonderful experience. The other portraits will be displayed at an exhibition of my work in 2018 so stay tuned.

Actor Rufus Sewell, London & Los Angeles Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

In December I was pleased to announce that a Portrait of British Army Soldier Sergeant Seeto, captured as part of  Soldiery British Army Portraits Exhibition. Entered into the British Life Photography Awards 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.

Also in December a portrait of British Army Soldier  Warrant Officer Class 2 Deborah Penny captured in November 2017 in London, was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery London. Deborah serving 30 years in the British Army’s  Royal Logistic Corps as a Bomb disposal expert; made Army history as the first transgender Soldier to serve in the front line. The Portrait captured as part of my Soldiery Exhibition Soldiery British Army Portraits, represents my SEVENTH National Portrait Gallery Acquisition.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Deborah Penny London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis, Military British Army

“The British Army is a wonderfully diverse organisation and I’m pleased that my portrait has helped to recognise a true British Army Hero. Deborah will take her rightful place in the National Portrait Gallery’s perminant collection.”

Rory Lewis

 

Finally in finishing  this hastily put together Blog Post, these have been the highlights of a gigantic year in Portraiture. I look forward to picking up my camera tomorrow for my first portrait sitting of 2018. Lastly my biggest moment of 2017 the unveiling Soldiery for one Preview evening in my home town of Liverpool, captured on video please take a look below.

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.