Tuesday 12 May 2009


5 years ago I embarked on an interesting project

'The Descendants'

Where I recreate paintings or photographs of the famous historical figures using their direct descendant

Starting with the direct descendants of William Wordsworth (poet), Charles Dickens( Author), Isambard Kingdom Brunel (engineer),Robert Falcon Scott (Arctic explorer)

The first series of portraits were going to be a one off, but it has blossomed into a project which has a life of its own.

I shot another 4 last week, which brings the total to 20.

This month my recreation of the famous Geronimo Portrait was used in 'National Geographic'. A lifetimes ambition achieved

I shot the image last year in New Mexico. Sourcing clothing and props from LA, a rifle of the type that Geronimo used(we did quite well but ended up with the cavalry edition which has a shorter barrel)

All that I needed to do was drive in a convertible Ford Mustang Shelby (Hertz do hire them!) from LA to New Mexico, I mention this as its all part of the adventure and one of the reasons why I became a photographer.

It was the trip of a lifetime, and it will be a longtime before the memory fades of a snow dusted New Mexico desert with the soundtrack of a tuned V8 playing, sitting in my London studio I can still feel the icy desert wind in my face. Life is beautiful

When we were close to the location we started to look for a barrel cactus, I thought would be easy but we had to visit several garden centers before we found one big enough.

We then met the charming Robert Geronimo and shot the image outside his parents house which provided the perfect backdrop.

Shot on a Phase One P45 + with a 120mm lens, using available light.

Just over one year on and it appeared in National Geographic, along with two other recreations of Oliver Cromwell and Charles Dickens.

You can see a short video of the Oliver Cromwell photo shoot here

To say I'm pleased is an understatement

None of this would be possible without my BRILLIANT producer Clare.

The descendants project is totally self funded, following your heart carries great risks but can reap considerable rewards

* My blogging has been a sparse of late, I have been SO busy, normal service has been resumed


Vincent said...

Hi Drew, man I am a great fan of your work! I love this project. I feel we share a lot of the same interest in history and photography. Congrats for your achievement in the big NG

Very enjoyable post

Cheers Vincent


Valdo said...

Congrats for making it to National Geographic!!

I've checked all the project and it totally rocks!! brilliant idea.

JvH said...

Looks fantastic Drew! Can you tell us something about the lighting? Seemed like a 1-light deal as far as I could see. Or did you light the background as well?

Sarah Balderas said...

What a unique and brilliant project! I have to say you did a fantastic job with the Geronimo background...it's spot on! How lovely is it that you were able to use his parents' house and keep in the family tie. I look forward to seeing more of this series. :)

TBG said...

thanks for sharing your story. they inspire me to make my own personal projects!

Unknown said...

Great project. I love the pictures - it's so interesting to look for likenesses. Really brings the characters alive. Very inspirational work. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

well done mate. looks good.

David Brown said...

Thanks for this: not only are the photos amazing, and the resemblances uncanny, but I'd never really thought about how these famous people were connected to the modern world.

This series of shots changes all of that.

Great work!

Martin Saint said...

Congrats on the National Geographic, very cool project and very Inspiring. Loved the DVD btw boy has it got me thinking!!

Unknown said...

We were all waiting from you! This is an awesome project and good for you for NG.

Unknown said...

Thanks Guys,

Good to see my friends here again

It is a very exciting project.

I have cleared the decks for it and it is pretty much all I'm working on in terms of personal work right now

JvH, the lighting set up on Cromwell was very simple, as most of my lighting is in fact.One Elinchrom 1200 head in a medium Chimera softbox, with a single spot on the background to mimic the light in the painting



canngil said...

Absolutely fascinating project!!
Wish I had a famous ancestor to dress up like and have you take my portrait too!
Will be following to see who comes next.

Unknown said...

Thank you!

More descendants on the way



Mattydavy said...

Wonderful work! Such attention to detail and it really shows.

All the best,


bgeronimo said...

Drew, Great photograph. It complements the framed picture of Geronimo that I keep above my desk. Thoroughly enjoyable collection of photos.

Bob(Robert)Geronimo, New York
[no relation, only coincidence - smile]

Unknown said...

Cheers Robert

Quite a coincidence with the name!


Mrs.A said...

Where can we see the entire Descendants collection? Your website only shows 8 of the pairs.

I'd love to share this collection with my high school history students.


Unknown said...

Mrs A

Some of the series has not yet been released

In due course they will be up there



Dr Selby Whittingham said...

I found two collateral descendants of J.M.W.Turner who looked just like him.

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