For more than a decade, Rory Lewis has been honing his craft to become one of the UK’s most prolific portrait photographers. His work has been acquired by London’s National Portrait Gallery and is exhibited worldwide. Rory told us more about his latest commission…
I WORK with celebrities all the time, but this time I’m turning my lens towards the British Army for an ambitious project.
I felt that for a long period of time, I had been photographing models and actors, who are acting for the most part.
This time I wanted to capture the real heroes.
With the help of Lt Gen Sir James Everard, who I met last year, my aim is to capture a diverse portrait of the Army in the second decade of the 21st century. I have been working closely with the Army holding hundreds of portrait sittings throughout 2016. I’ll be visiting more regiments to complete the project in time for an exhibition in London in summer 2017.
With a degree in history, detail is very important to me as a photographer and I pride myself on capturing every line, mark and scar.
Each portrait tells a story. Just by looking into the eyes of the men and women you can see those soldiers who have just passed out looking fresh-faced and ready for action, and then look at those who have been veterans of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan with more experienced and vivid emotions. To me, the eyes are everything – they are indeed the gateway to our souls.
The project features the Army’s leaders and the soldiers of regiments including The Grenadier Guards, The Royal Welsh, The Royal Irish, The Gurkhas and The Rifles.
It has been a wonderful experience to travel the country from Fort George in Inverness to the Yorkshire Dales and south to London, Andover and Aldershot.
One of the most interesting sittings was with the Royal Welsh Regiment. I was very lucky to feature one of the most important members – Llewellyn the regimental goat – who was very happy to sit for his portrait.
Working with the men and women of the Army, you quickly discover how diverse it is. I’ve met soldiers from all over the world, including Malawi, Zimbabwe, Canada and Australia. Every regiment is unique, almost like its own tribe with its own uniform, traditions and heritage.
To find out more, visit rorylewisphotography.com/soldiery