National Portrait Gallery Workshop (Power & Portraiture) 23rd-24th February 2019

Over the weekend I was delighted to teach a Portrait Masterclass at the National Portrait Gallery in London. The third time the gallery has invited me to work with them, and it is a real treat to use the Collection as inspiration. I had the pleasure of working with 12 delegates. No stranger to the gallery I’m always popping my head through the door, to gorge upon the feast of art and intrigue. Over the years seven of my portraits have been acquired by the Gallery.

Day one began with a talk about my style of portraiture and how art has provided a great deal of inspiration in the lighting and detail of my own work. Then we moved on to talk about the work of Artists, such as TitianHans Holbein the Younger and Sir Thomas Lawrence. After some refreshment, the delegates toured the gallery, with a talk by myself on some of the most interesting pieces of the collection.

After lunch it was time to learn about lighting techniques using the galleries well equipped photographic studio. The delegates practiced their technique using a light meter to setup basic one and two light Renaissance Chiaroscuro Lighting with our first model. After lighting skills where taught, I demonstrated direction and how to create different emotions and moods. The delegates then took it in turn to capture a varied collection of portraits illustrating different sides of our subjects character.

Day two began with a review of all the delegates portraits from day one. We then recapped on the lighting techniques and skills. The delegates then worked in groups to re-create versions of the renaissance portraits in the gallery.

After lunch it was time to work with our Second and Third model, the delegates working in groups visited the gallery to plan a series of portraits using the collection as inspiration. Then taking it in turn to re-create their own versions of portraits with the subjects. Shoots completed, I reviewed all the portraits captured, and gave individual feedback on lighting and direction.

The course was a wonderful success, packing in as much as I possibly could over two days, the Delegates walked away with a new appreciation of art and photographic skills. In turn Capturing their own collection of portraiture. It was fascinating to see everyones unique style and approach to the practical photography session. If you are interested in my photography workshops in the UK or USA, please take a look at my Photography Course Page.


What motivated you to attend this workshop?

‘I like Rory Lewis’ work and the influences he works with.’

‘To gain more confidence and good working practices.’


How did you find the balance between listening, engaging and creating?

‘In view of the number of participants Rory managed very well the balance of lecture and practice. I particularly enjoyed the relation to selected painters and specific paintings in the NPG.’

‘Perfect mix.’


What did you particularly enjoy about this workshop?

‘I understood Rory’s particular style in portraiture. It will influence my own work and help me to develop my own style. That he brought actors into the shooting session was also a nice twist, as this folk is more expressive than models.’

‘Using the Gallery to gain inspiration and then trying to adapt that idea into a photograph.’

‘Learning hand on from Rory.’


What new skills have you learnt?

‘How simple lighting techniques can be used to great effect. How to use classic art to inspire photography ideas.’

‘How to take control of the photo shoot and direct the sitter. To look for inspiration and develop a style of your own.’


What did you think about the levels of teaching?

‘Rory has a very natural way to explain things very well. He also made the right balance between explaining and exercising.’

‘Very well presented. Rory is a very knowledgeable historian and photographer. Rory easily managed a large group passing on his practical skills and enabling us to photograph subjects quickly.