Thursday 29th June 2017,
Featured Pixels

An Interview with Lee Jeffries – Spiritual Portrait Photographer

Lee Jeffries – Spiritual Portrait Photographer

Lee Jeffries powerful portraits are getting noticed big time. He recently won Digital Camera magazine’s Photographer of the Year award, and is also in the midst of getting a book published with Yellow Korner.

500px, Portfolio, Twitter

Tell us a little bit about you? Where do you consider home?

I’m 41. Live in Manchester in the UK and I am a full time Accountant. Not a professional photographer at all in the sense that I make a living from it.
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Have you attended school/taken any courses for Photography?

When I first stated out I didn’t know Photoshop p from my arse so I took a week off work and spent the whole time working through a Kelby book. That is the only “course” I have done that is photography related.
 

What or who got you started in photography?

I started to shoot products for a bicycle component business I once ran. That quickly developed into sports photography and then street stuff.

List 3 photographers you admire – past and/or present.

 

James Nachtwey

 

Stephan Vanfleteren

 

Brett Walker

 

All have a no nonsense approach. Cut straight to the emotion.

Could you tell us something that few people know about you?

I’m an identical twin but its universally accepted that I am the better looking!!

What do you think of the current state of the photography industry/where do you see it in 5 years?

It may sound insular, but I have zero interest in the “industry”. I love doing what I’m doing….love a stunning photograph…but have no opinion on how photography has been or where it is going.

List 3 things you wish you had done sooner in your career.

If we are talking about photography, I wished I would have…
1. explored my artistic side. I have never done anything remotely artistic until my late 30’s!
2. realized earlier that the metaphysical in an image is as fundamental as the subject. I wasted a lot of time “just taking pictures”
3. learned compassion is the key to everything.
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If you could be invisible for one day with your camera, where would you go?

I wouldn’t want to be invisible with the camera at all…IMO you need a connection! If your asking me what/who I would like to shoot most…well…Kristen Scott Thomas is the number one portrait I would kill to get in my portfolio. On an emotional and metaphysical level she has a face that epitomizes everything I look for in a photograph. Yup…that’s where I’d go.

What is your current gear setup?

Canon 5d, 24mm f/1.4L
 

What is your favorite lens and why?

24mm. It’s my only lens.

What lighting equipment do you take on a regular shoot if any?

I only use natural light. I always carry a hand held reflector that has been described by those who know me as my “trampoline”!!

How important is Photoshop in your final images?

Photoshop plays a huge role in my final image but only in the sense of developing a mood and packing in the metaphysical. Often I do this with light and shadow and its those contrasts that develop an underlying atmosphere for the image. Its no coincidence that the majority of my work has religious undertones. Dodging and burning is a skill just as relevant today as its always been.

Are you a Mac or PC lover?

Mac for photo’s. No question.
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We all admire the reasons behind your portraits. Could you tell us a bit more about how you ended up using your talent to draw attention too homeless awareness and raise funds for these beautiful people?

I remember reading this passage….and being amazed at how a stranger could so accurately interpret and articulate my most inner thoughts…..

“If you will forgive my indulgence, this work is most definitely NOT photojournalism. Nor is it intended as portraiture. It’s religious or spiritual iconography. It’s powerful stuff.
Jeffries gave these people something more than personal dignity.
He gave them a light in their eyes that depicts transcendence, a glimmer of light at the gates of Eden, so to speak.
The clarity in their eyes is awesome to behold, as if God is somewhere in there.
He has made these people into more than poor old broken homeless people lazily waiting for a handout from some urbane and thoughtful corporate agent.
He infused them with light, not darkness. Even the blind guy has light pouring from his sightless eyes.
I think Jeffries intended his art to honor these people, not pity them.  He honors those people by giving their likenesses a greater meaning. He gives them a religious spiritual significance.
He imbues them with the iconic soul of humanity. I think that’s what he was trying to do, at least to some degree thereof.”

I just ended up doing this I guess based on the experiences of my life. My fascination with faith. My loneliness. My despair and of course my hope. Somehow that has ingrained a sixth sense…a recognition and compassion to the spirituality of others. I see it….feel it and I then try to capture the emotion of that and let others make their own judgement. If that generates an interest in the images and issues then that’s a huge positive.

If you weren’t a professional photographer, what would you like to be doing?

Lets just say if I wasn’t an accountant I would love to be a professional photographer! :)

Which 5 words would your friends use to describe you?

Emotional, Inspiring, Dramatic, Sensitive, Thoughtful

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

“Don’t stop loving me. I can see it draining out of you. It’s me, remember? It was a stupid thing to do and it meant nothing. If you love me enough, you’ll forgive me”…. can’t answer this question any other way.

What is your greatest fear?


Being alone.

Do you have a favorite movie?

Terrence Malicks work has a huge influence on how I view things. Way before I ever picked up a camera I would sit mesmerized by the beauty of the The Thin Red Line…and now the gentle whisper  “the only way to be happy is to love. Unless you love, your life will flash by” from the Tree of Life always moves me no matter how many times I watch the movie. I’m overwhelmed to have been asked by him to help with a current project.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

Go fishing;-)

And the last question, if you had one wish…

On a completely personal level….to stand beneath Christ the Redeemer.

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About The Author

Creative Mind and Soul from Canada.

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