Portrait featuring Ian pulestion-davies with hands on face in a pained expression

Pushing the Boundaries of Portrait Photography with Ian Puleston-Davies

Acting requires skill, effort and patience. A great actor will invest time and dedication into conveying their emotions into a separate character, which is impressive enough when achieved on the television screen, cinema or stage. However, capturing emotions in portrait photography requires an extra level of ability from the actor – and from the other side of the camera, too.

At Neilson Reeves, we prize quality and customer satisfaction above all else, working together with the subject to achieve unbeatable results. Our photographer, Colin Boulter, is an accomplished and experienced pro who has worked with many successful actors of the screen and stage.

Recently, Coronation Street star Ian Puleston-Davies contacted us. Having played the character of Owen Armstrong from 2010 to 2015, he had decided it was time to shake up his portfolio with some new photographs and a new image. After a comprehensive introductory session with Colin, the resulting photoshoot turned into a thorough acting workout. Ian went to the limits of his acting abilities – and Colin was there to push him all way – to produce one of the most exciting photoshoots we’ve ever had the pleasure of being part of. It was a true masterclass in acting from a pro.


Here is some of the images from the shoot

And you can Read Some Advice from the Actor Himself


In this portrait Ian demonstrates his acting abilities and shows lots of emotion to the camera. The shirt undone with tie loose adds to the mood of a broken man who could have lost everything at the casino (Colin Boulter)

In this portrait Ian looks lovingly at his small guitar that he uses to relax should his OCD be troubling him (Colin Boulter)

This portrait featuring Ian Puleston-Davies witch doctor style top hat with feather. An intense portrait with a sinister look of a man possessed. (Colin Boulter)

What Ian said about the shoot

Ian was thoroughly satisfied with the resulting shots. This is what he said about his experience: “The session made for an inventive, creative, ambitious time. Colin not only knows what he’s doing, but he also very cleverly makes you think it’s you leading the session… the mark of a good photographer? If you are looking for a bog-standard sit-in-front-of-the-camera-and-smile type of session, I’m sure Colin can accommodate. However, he is so much more. If you want to go off-piste as it were, enjoy the ride; because the moment you walk into his relaxed studio and start talking shots with him, you know you’re going to be well looked after.”

Actor Ian Puleston-Davies demonstrates his acting ability in this black and white portrait of a man with a lot on his mind. (Colin Boulter)

In this portrait of Ian Puleston-Davies the photographer with hands crossed on the table in front of him. (Colin Boulter)


In the three quarter length portrait of Ian Puleston-Davies he is holding is late fathers walking can, wearing a top hat and holding a bottle of beer. These elements all work together to create a bedraggled look of a man on the edge (Colin Boulter)


A thought provoking portrait featuring Ian Puleston-Davies. The portrait shows Ian looking like Winston Smith the character portrayed by John Hurt in the film 1984 based on a novel by George Orwell (Colin Boulter)

A thought provoking actor headshot in black and white featuring Actor Ian Puleston-Davies (Colin Boulter)

This portrait features Ian with his feet up playing his trusty small guitar that he often uses to bring himself down from an episode of OCD (Colin Boulter)

An in-depth experience

Indeed, there is nothing bog-standard about Colin’s approach. In the case of Ian, the pair talked fully for three hours before even touching the camera. In the words of Ian, they were “gassing like two old fishwives!” Such understanding and trust between the pair is vital to extracting the best photographs possible. Indeed, Ian was so comfortable that he felt at ease talking about his well-publicised OCD and even worked this into some of the shots. When Colin was confident he fully understood Ian’s personality and what exactly he was looking for, they moved onto an in-depth photography shoot, capturing not only head shots but a variety of portrait pictures as well.

In this portrait of Ian Puleston-Davies the photographer has used wide angle lens to distort perspective and elongate the Actors face for a dramatic intense look (Colin Boulter)

in this portrait Ian has his hand on his head and looks extremely stressed and a little sad. (Colin Boulter)

A thought provoking Black and White portrait featuring Ian Puleston-Davies (Colin Boulter)

In this portrait Ian really bears his soul and shows real emotion to camera. The despondent sad look on his face, shirt open and tie loose all contribute to the feel of the portrait of a broken man (Colin Boulter)

Setting the Stage and letting emotions run free

 Working in a collaborative manner, Ian and Colin ran the gamut of emotions, from happy to crushed, insane to stressed, tearful to enigmatic. Colin used different qualities of light to accentuate Ian’s vast talent – adopting softer lights with soft shadows to create upbeat images, and harder qualities to produce more deepened shadowing for a moodier effect.

The shoot is a perfect demonstration of how superior acting ability coupled with a superb photographer can produce stunning results that can freshen up a portfolio and breathe new creativity into an actor’s range. The danger of playing the same character for such a long time – as Ian has done on Coronation Street – is that the initial impetus and thirst for the role can wane. The shoot with Neilson Reeves was the perfect antidote to help spark Ian’s creative soul to life and showcase his undeniable talents. Wow!

“Needless to say, Colin has my whole hearted approval,” remarked Ian. “He is, appropriately, head and shoulders above the rest; he also happens to be a genuinely lovely guy with bags of energy and a true passion for his art.”

In this portrait Ian looks heart warningly into camera and has his arms folded lending forward (Colin Boulter)


Ian Puleston-Davies Theatrical actor headshot in colour. Ian is wearing rock and roll teddy boy type suit with white shirt and thin black tie (Colin Boulter)

Ian Puleston-Davies and colin boulter

Find out more about Actor Headshot and Actor Portfolio Photography here