Thank you for attending the class I hope you captured a collection of wonderful images and learnt a whole host of new skills. Please see below some helpful information on recommended books, equipment and services. Notes are also available download on the PDF link below.

If you are interested in expanding your knowledge further upcoming workshops are listed. Feel free to Tweet @rorylewisphotog or Instagram @rorylewisphoto any of your work. If you can also spare a few moments to leave me a review on my Google Page it would be appreciated.

Models (Please feel free to send them your work)








Click Here to Download Course Notes PDF.

Recommended Books

I’m often asked by the many delegates who attend my Photography Workshops. What Books do you recommend for the Portrait Photographer? So I thought I would write a Post on the Subject. The following is a series of Books I recommend for the Budding and Established Portraitist. You will notice the majority of these listed are books on Portrait Painters. It is my opinion that the Portrait Photographer should always look at the work of the Portrait Painter. For they were around long before the photographer. Many of the lighting & posing & even retouching techniques we portrait photographers use; are inspired from Artists such as Caravaggio, Michelangelo, and DaVinci & Rembrandt.


Cecil Beaton Portraits & Profiles

Cecil Beaton has been one of my favourite portrait photographers. Portraits & Profiles is a must for the Portrait Photographer. Not only does the book feature his work but also his thoughts and opinions of the stars who sat for him. The opinions taken from his private diary entires on the celebrities and historical figures who appeared in his portraits. He spent 50 years charming the rich and famous from behind the camera in order to produce an array of iconic portraits.
But now Cecil Beaton’s true and often scathing opinions on stars from Mick Jagger to Monroe have been revealed in a new book.
Cecil claimed the Rolling Stones frontman “could be a eunuch”, described one half of Grace Kelly’s face as “like a bull calf” and dismissed Elizabeth Taylor as vulgar and unladylike.
Displaying disconcerting foresight, he said of Marilyn Monroe: “It will probably end in tears.”
But despite his many waspish commentaries, the photographer was full of praise for the Queen who he described as “serene, magnetic” and “meltingly sympathetic” and her “very pretty” sister Princess Margaret. When skimming through the volume, I arrived at Cecil’s Portrait sitting with Actor David Warner, and was reminded of my own portrait sitting with David. Cecil’s descriptions of Warner still aptly describe the acting legend. 

Cecil Beaton: Portraits and Profiles £20.40 (Amazon)

Citizens & Kings Portraits in The Age of Revolution 1760-1830 by Sébastien Allard & Robert Rosenblum 

Citizens & Kings Portraits in The Age of Revolution 1760-1830  by Sébastien Allard & Robert Rosenblum.

Citizens & Kings Portraits in The Age of Revolution 1760-1830 by Sébastien Allard & Robert Rosenblum.

Every Portrait Photographer should have a copy of this book. I can’t remember when I last learned so much, this book fascinates me. Artists who have been just names are brought to life. Most of all the sculptor Houdon, whose sensitive, enlightened translation of the Greek style comes to life, and the British painter Thomas Lawrence, once a household name across Europe. What puts people off art history is the idea that it is merely about a sequence of styles – rococo to neo-classicism to Romanticism. If you want to understand the medium of portraiture this book will give you a flying start. The portraits are presented in various categories (e.g. the status portrait, the cultural portrait), preceded by short ‘bite-size’ essays that provide an insight into the context, illustrating their point with comparative works. 

Citizens & Kings Portraits in The Age of Revolution 1760-1830 £45.00 (Amazon)

A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits by Laura Cumming

Focusing on the art of self-portraiture, this effortlessly engaging exploration of the lives of artists sheds fascinating light on some of the most extraordinary portraits in art history. Self-portraits always seem catch your eye. They seem to do it deliberately. Walk into any art gallery and they draw attention to themseles. Come across them in the world’s museums and you get a strange shock of recognition, rather like glimpsing your own reflection. For in picturing themselves artists reveal something far deeper than their own physical looks: the truth about how they hope to be viewed by the world, and how they wish to see themselves. In this beautifully written and lavishly illustrated book, Laura Cumming, art critic of the Observer, investigates the drama of the self-portrait, from Durer, Rembrandt and Velazquez to Munch, Picasso, Warhol and the present day. She considers how and why self-portraits look as they do and what they reveal about the artist’s innermost sense of self – as well as the curious ways in which they may imitate our behaviour in real life.Drawing on art, literature, history, philosophy and biography to examine the creative process in an entirely fresh way, Cumming offers a riveting insight into the intimate truths and elaborate fictions of self-portraiture and the lives of those who practise it. A work of remarkable depth, scope and power, this is a book for anyone who has ever wondered about the strange dichotomy between the innermost self and the self we choose to present for posterity – our face to the world. 

A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits £15.90 (Amazon)

Karsh Yousef – A Biography in Images by Malcolm Rogers

During his remarkable life, Yousuf Karsh, who was born in Armenia in 1908, traveled the globe to photograph subjects ranging from historical figures to anonymous farmers to steelworks. “Karsh: A Biography In Images” is a full revision of the 1996 60-year retrospective of his work and brings that popular catalogue back into print in an affordable paperback format. This new edition covers the photographer’s career with greater breadth than its previous incarnation, adding works from his early experiments and his photojournalism commissions in Canada. Karsh’s reputation as one of the most sought-after portrait photographers of the twentieth century is well established. A roll call of his subjects is a veritable who’s who of the modern age–Winston Churchill, Jacqueline Kennedy, Pablo Picasso, Walt Disney, Elizabeth Taylor and Albert Einstein, to name just a few–and this book features many of these figures, in some of the most recognized images of our time. But added to the portraits are a number of lesser-known or previously unpublished photographs–early figure studies, atmospheric views of the Ottawa theatre and scenes of wheat fields, city streets and factories across Canada. With its long autobiographical essay and extensive captions for each photo, many of them new to this edition, “Karsh: A Biography In Images” is both an elegant celebration and an indispensable overview of a life lived in photography. 

Karsh Yousef – A Biography in Images £29.50 (Amazon)

Caravaggio: Complete Works by Sebastian Schutze

Realist revolutionary: The painter who brought the heavenly down to earth Caravaggio, or more accurately Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), was always a name to be reckoned with.Notorious bad boy of Italian painting, the artist was at once celebrated and controversial: Violent in temper, precise in technique, a creative master, and a man on the run. This work offers a comprehensive reassessment of Caravaggio’s entire oeuvre with a catalogue of his works. Each painting is reproduced in large format, with recent, high production photography allowing for dramatic close-ups with Caravaggio’s ingenious details of looks and gestures. Five introductory chapters analyze Caravaggio’s artistic career from his early struggle to make a living, through his first public commissions in Rome, and his growing celebrity status. They look at his increasing daring with lighting and with a boundary-breaking realism which allowed even biblical events to unfold with an unprecedented immediacy before the viewer. An accompanying artist chronology follows Caravaggio’s equally tumultous personal life, tracing his history of debts, gambling, drunken brawls, and murder. 

Caravaggio: Complete Works by Sebastian Schutze £29.24 (Amazon)

Hans Holbein Paperback – by Pascal Griener 

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8 – 1543), one of the most versatile and admired painters of the Northern Renaissance, trained under his father in Augsburg and then worked for leading patrons in Switzerland before settling in England as Court Painter to Henry VIII. Holbein is my favourite portrait artist. He was a hugely ambitious artist, and even during his formative years in Lucerne and Basle designed jewellery, stained glass and woodcuts as well as paint major altarpieces and portraits. He also carried out several monumental decorative schemes for private houses and civic buildings. In all his commissions Holbein sought to rival the greatest masters of Germany and Italy – notably Durer and Mantegna – as well as Antiquity, and by the time of his visit to France in 1524 he was determined to secure a position as court painter. This, and the precarious situation he was finding himself in as a result of the Reformation’s increasing hostility to religious works, drove him to England for good in 1532, where in addition to decorative schemes and Triumphs he both drew and painted numerous unrivalled likenesses of leading courtiers, merchants and diplomats, among which is his celebrated double portrait ‘The Ambassadors’. This acclaimed, richly illustrated book by Oskar Batschmann and Pascal Griener – now available in a revised and expanded Second Edition – is a major advance in our understanding of Holbein’s contribution to European art. The authors re-examine every aspect of a remarkable career, in which they take full account of the artistic and cultural influences that affected the artist and of his friendships with leading humanists such as Erasmus and Sir Thomas More, and cast fresh light on many hitherto vexing questions and misunderstandings. 

Hans Holbein Paperback £20.00 (Amazon)

Essential Equipment for the Portrait Photographer

Portraiture is all about Expression, Mood, Light and Shadow. If you look at Classical Portrait lighting styles you will see that each is defined by not only how the face is lit, but also by the shadows on the face. In order to achieve your desired style in a professional studio or in your own home studio , here are a few pieces of equipment that will help I can’t do without.

A good light meter is essential, you will be surprised, I have taught a great deal of budding photographers in my workshops, and many have never used a light meter. Your digital camera can do significantly more than film cameras, but it is not a light meter. It has no lumisphere, it cannot measure the light output of flash prior to capture, it cannot measure the light output of multiple flashes in relation to one another and as a percentage of ambient light. Precise calibration for accurate digital exposures is essential in portraiture to create the right look and mood. You can’t meter flash/strobes by eye alone. I recommend the Sekonic L-308X £205.00, it’s simple to use and will ensure accuracy in your metering.

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Posing stools and posing tables play an important role in my portraiture, a portrait session is after-all called a sitting. Therefore ones model or subject should be seated.  Having a stool instead of a chair can be helpful if you don’t want the chair back to be visible in the pictures. Also when the client is sitting, options for placing his/hers arms and hands can be limited, so a posing table can help finding more poses.

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Profoto Large Reflector - Black/White

Profoto Large Reflector - Black/White

Whether you’re shooting in studio with strobes or outdoors, in bright sunlight or under clouds, the direction and strength of the light has a big impact on your images, and making the most of the available light can be the difference between a good photo and a great one. Reflectors are your secret weapon in portraiture, put quite simply reflectors bounce light. They enable you to control your lighting more effectively. With so many reflectors available its impossible to talk about them all. I prefer Silver/White reflectors. Silver/White Reflectors create a bright more detailed portrait. If you don’t fancy holding your reflector and camera at the same time its worth investing in a telescopic zip disk holder.

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Umbrellas are collapsible lighting modifiers that spread the light output into many different directions.  Silver Umbrellas throw light everywhere within a 180 degree radius. The wide and even pattern of light created by a silver umbrella makes them perfect for lighting portraits. Umbrella’s will give your portraits a softer look, they are portable and easy to use, and very affordable.

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Often during photography workshops delegates always ask what bags do you use? My answer the Peli 1510, make sure you pick up the dividers, the to replace the internal foam supplied. I find the internal foam always falls to bits from regular use. You can also pickup a handy laptop pouch kit for your iPad and Wires. I’ve been using this for more that a year now. The 1510 is one strong case, truly water proof, robust and rigid. The wheels are of very good quality, I’ve dragged this case all over the world across pavements, and fields.

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As the photographer on the move, the ProFoto kit combines durability with portability and power. 

The B2-250 kit includes AirTTL Power Pack, 2 batteries, charger, X2 B2 Flash heads with a padded location Bag and a Carrying Bag with shoulder strap. The power pack is intended for the photographer on the road, and weights just less than 1kg with its Li-Ion battery. The B2’s twin outlets have a dedicated thumbwheel that allows the package 250Ws of power to be distributed asymmetrically over a 9-stop range in full or 1/10 steps.

At 0.7kg, the sturdily-built B2 Off-Camera Flash Heads measure 10.2cm long, and have a 9.9cm diameter fitting into the palm of your hand. A barely-visible umbrella channel runs through the top of the head.

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Octa Softboxes are perfect for people photography thanks to its circle-like shape that generates an attractive and natural looking catch-light in the subject’s eye. The Octa shape also gives an equally soft or hard edge on all sides. They are portable and easy to use, and very affordable.

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Utilising a medium format camera has its advantages, but it is rather heavy. Traveling between London & Los Angeles, I wanted to find a light weight tripod. Carbon Fibre seemed to be the best option. However, you find these types of tripods can be quite expensive. Doing my research I found the Manfrotto 190 Go. A very reasonable £299.00 it became the answer to my problems. This lightweight solution delivers on durability and precision with its tilt motion assistance, it weighs a light 1kg!

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Those of you who follow my blog and twitter feed, see me using Lastolite Collapsable Backdrops on the majority of my Portrait Sittings. As a travelling portraitist collapsible backgrounds are a quick and easy solution. They take seconds to set up and pack away making them equally convenient to pop-open in offices & clients homes.

I enjoy shooting portraits with the collapsible backdrops. As a one man band, I can easily accomplish the background set-ups by myself since they fold and unfold like a giant reflector. They are easy to carry on public transport, which is a blessing. The majority of my sittings take place in London. As a regular passinger on the London Underground they are easy to stow in a large suitcase.

As well as single sided backdrops, Lastolite offer reversible backdrops giving you more options. The backdrops I most frequently us are the Black/WhiteWhite/Light Gray. I also utilise the dyed/muslin backdrops Wyoming/MississippiVirginia /Kentucky. Muslin backdrops give you the choice of colours and patterns.

I mostly use the Black/White Collapsible, I love shooting on black so much and this makes my life very easy. The black is especially handy for when I want a completely dark background that has no light reflection. Most of the locations I shoot in are not ideal, sometimes their is a little too much daylight I can’t block out! I find the backdrop absorbs light from the strobe far better than seamless backdrop paper which in my experience seems to catch the light.

Left    (Virginia Dyed) Capt Reilly Royal Irish Regiment,    Right    (Wyoming Dyed) Actor Brent Spiner

Left (Virginia Dyed) Capt Reilly Royal Irish Regiment, Right (Wyoming Dyed) Actor Brent Spiner

Lastolite Black/White    Left    Actress Helen Bench,    Right    Actor William Shatner

Lastolite Black/White Left Actress Helen Bench, Right Actor William Shatner

Lastolite also offer a selection of Urban Backgrounds bringing the outdoor look, indoors; with a wide selection available. Urban Backgrounds help to save time and costs especially when you trying to find the right location for you portrait photoshoot. (Left Lastolite Urban Collapsible 1.5 x 2.1m Tarnished Metal/Container)The uncontrollable weather and the risk of distractions in the background no longer present challenges. Whether in a studio, or a client’s home, you can create the outdoor look in any location. In conclusion, I couldn’t imagine going back to the days of carrying roles of seamless backdrop paper around, or hunting for a suitable location and in turn praying for good weather.

It is also worth mentioning if you are going to invest in Lastolite Collapsable backdrop system. Make sure you purchase the Magnetic Background Support Kit. The Kit enables photographers to quickly and easily attach any collapsible backgrounds with a steel rim to a traditional lighting stand. The background can be attached to the support at a comfortable height. It is also quick and easy to switch backgrounds; simply pull one off and snap another on.

I’ve used PhotoShelter as a platform for selling my prints, and images online. It also boasts a wonderful cloud based storage system. PhotoShelter is not for everyone.  If you are taking pictures as a hobby and just want to post it online to share with your friends and family, there are other great website builders that will get the job done (such as Squarespace, Weebly or Wix).

PhotoShelter is built specifically for professional photographers who want to grow their client base, sales, and reach more people and paying customers on the internet. Their backend engine is built specifically to support you, giving you full control to:

  • Sell prints, packages, digital downloads, royalty-free or rights-managed stock photos

  • Get paid – integration with payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, and Net billing

  • Upload all your photographs on to their cloud based storage so you can access them anywhere (no upload size limitations)

  • Share your photographs with the public, or privately share them with prospective customers

  • Automated print and product fulfillment process

  • Protect your photographs with watermark

Click Here to Learn More About PhotoShelter


A great picture deserves to be prominently displayed. You can have your photos mounted professionally, but it’s a good idea to learn how to do it yourself. Once you have the right materials and tools, it’s less expensive than outsourcing the job to someone else. I prefer to do it myself, and for that reason I use Frames by Post.

They Manufacture 95% of their frames in the UK.

  • Huge choice of colours, styles and sizes in stock

  • Customisation Available

  • High Quality

  • Fair Price

Click Here to Learn More About Frames By Post