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Capturing 'the moment of decision'

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image copyrightRory Lewis
image captionThe photographer and his wife Alexandra Lewis

Photography is all about that frozen moment, a split-second when what has been and what will be are held forever by the click of the shutter.

British photographer Rory Lewis has taken this into the studio and created a series of portraits where the sitter has been asked to pause, and to prepare for something to happen, be it good or bad. The resulting images can be seen on screens at railway stations in Liverpool.

"The work is entitled Selah, a Hebrew word which is interpreted to mean to meditate, to pause," says Lewis.

"All of the subjects are photographed as though they have this epic decision to make.

"If you won the lottery tonight and were sitting with the ticket, you ask yourself what am I going to do at 9am when I collect this money? That's... the moment of decision."

image copyrightRory Lewis
image captionRussian actor Lyanka Gryu

Lewis found inspiration for the work by studying the art of the Old Masters, including Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Titian and, in particular, Ribera. The pictures add a modern twist to the light and atmosphere of those classical paintings.

When shooting the portrait of Ant and Dec, Lewis told the pair to think as actors, not as television presenters.

image copyrightRory Lewis
image captionAnt and Dec

"It is kind of like they are looking like wise guys across the table, in serious contemplation," says Lewis.

Another photograph, this time of Anna Passey, is based on Caravaggio's painting Judith Beheading Holofernes.

"I showed Anna the painting and described the lady who modelled for it, Fillide Melandroni, an Italian courtesan," says Lewis.

The final frame of the portrayal of Judith by Passey was shaped by Melandroni, who posed all those years ago.

image copyrightRory Lewis
image captionHollyoaks actor Anna Passey

"The six guys in a line is based on Gustave Doré's The Neophyte," says Lewis.

"It shows six priests sitting in a monastery, and in the middle a young priest is thinking 'why am I sitting here?'

"I twisted it round and told them to imagine you are sitting at a bus stop, and you are doing this and that, and the guy in the middle is a wanted man. He has been spotted and is in a difficult position, the odd one out."

image copyrightRory Lewis
image captionRecreating Gustave Doré's The Neophyte. Peter Van Norden, Tony Amendola, Leo Marks, Bo Foxworth, James Sutorius, Frank Weitzel

The pictures were due to be shown in March, but due to the coronavirus the show was postponed. Selah can now be seen from 12 to 19 October 2020 on JCDecaux screens in all of Liverpool's mainline railway stations.

image copyrightRory Lewis
image captionFrank Weitzel and Peter Van Norden
image copyrightRory Lewis
image captionActor James Purefoy
image copyrightRory Lewis
image captionUS actor Mark Margolis

You can see more of Rory Lewis' work on his website.

Related Topics

  • Liverpool
  • Photography