Please introduce yourself and tell us something about yourself and
Well, I love long walks on the beach...red wine..haha..no. My name is Leon and I just love creating and collaborating with people. From St. Louis, Missouri and I really enjoy watching the Cartoon Network.
What’s the central theme of your work?
I would say the central theme is storytelling. I predominately shoot people and i really think everyone has a story to tell. We all got something to say, its just everyone has to be willing to listen.
What makes a good picture in your eyes?
To me, a photograph has to speak to you. Like on a straight visual or aesthetically pleasing level. You have to want to look at it or want to know about the subject being portrayed. When someone can form their own interpretation of yours or someone else's artistic vision, its like the ultimate compliment and it says they really understand you.
Where do you consider a photograph to be created? When it’s shot or
when it’s processed?
I think when it is shot...but it depends on the concept. When you're shooting, you freeze a moment in time so its spontaneous. Unless its a posed shot and you control how you want everything to look. Post production comes into play, but I think it is used to enhance a photo more so than actually creating a new one. Thats actually a tough question because you can get some really cool stuff in post.
What ability are you currently missing in your equipment, camera or the software you work with?
I personally don't think its up to your tools, its all the individual. If you don't have that artistic vision in the first place, it doesn't matter what you use. You have to have that creativity within and be able to channel that in whatever medium you go into.
In what way do you use the Internet? What role does the computer play in your work?
Oh the computer is a huge part. I wouldn't have known about you all if it wasn't for the Internet! haha. No, but I think its a vital part of any artist. Knowing about local or international artists or cultures really influences a person's work. Not just their work, but the person in general. I love meeting people from other countries that have similar interests or styles and becoming friends with them!
What means or ways do you use to show your work to the (outside) world?
That goes back to the internet question...I use it a lot to communicate to friends and companies all over the world. I still get random emails from people all over who see my work on my website or some other venue and they want to compliment me on it. I think its the coolest thing in the world...hahaha.
Pixel or Grain?
Hahaha..tough one. I gotta say grain. I mainly still shoot film and I love the big grain on some of my photojournalistic projects. Digital is nice because its convenient, but there is a lot more it has to do to catch up with film :)
Concept or Moment?
Man, you all just keep comin with the tough questions! haha. Well, I guess to be honest, both. You can concept for something and get your shot, but you could also have an outtake shot where you just capture the moment and it has nothing to do with the concept, but its equally as good because it wasn't planned.
The thin line between art & design is sometimes hard to define. Do
you consider you work to be art or design? Why?
I would think more so art, but I love working with designers. To all you designers out there, you are my FAVORITE people in the world. I could have the worst picture on earth and I can give it to a designer and they can make it look like I was a genius. I really like working with designers because it seems as though they understand me and my work. I think my stuff can stand on its own, but when you work with other equally creative people...it just makes you the more creative also.
If you had an unlimited budget and all the time you needed. What would you do?
Travel. Hands down. I probably move to Europe and set that up as my home base. haha. I'd just go all over the world and take pictures. I love learning about cultures and meeting new people. Oh yeah, and candy. I would buy lots and lots of candy.
What inspires you?
Life...and how unpredictable it is. I wake up everyday and I always have inspiration. Of course there are times where you get frustrated and you feel that you've lost your inspiration..but it happens. I think that's the beauty of life though and it helps your vision and keeps you constantly inspired.
How do you keep your knowledge up to date? Do you spread your knowledge at universities, conferences or workshops and so on?
I do if people want to bring me somewhere! lol. I just got back from Central College in Pella, Iowa where I had my first gallery show and it was this big ordeal. I talked to several classes, had a gallery talk and just hung out on campus for a week. The funny thing was, everyone was expecting this 40 year old white guy to talk, and then I come in and I'm this 26 year old black dude from St. Louis. It was hilarious. I have talked at my old high school to students and they really seemed interested too, so I was happy I gave a little knowledge. haha.
Who is your favorite artist/photographer? Why?
That's the hardest question because I'm a fan of everyone and I really can't choose one. Whoever you look at and you just feel something from them, I say keep looking at their work because they seem to inspire you. I do say that some of my favorite photographers are Richard Avedon, Gordon Parks, Peter Lindbergh, Irving Penn....the list goes on and on. They were considered some of the best and their work just speaks to you. They set the tone for a lot of photographers today and are regarded as giants. This question is hard cause I love music too and this server isnt big enough for me to list my favorite musicians! hahaha.
Which project or website would you like to have made, or make?
There's a project I want to work on where I would travel to all these different countries and go to actual neighborhoods and just take pictures. Just showin how everyone lives in their own environment. Like, someone from Manila might be interested in how someone from Rio eats dinner! I would love to be able to print a book with all these pics and people all over the world can see how everyone lives. I'd see how long I can get the project to take so I could never stop traveling. That'd be my life. Eat. Sleep. Travel.
Just that, Thank you for the interview. I haven't felt this important since I had show & tell in the second grade. lol. Its an honor really to have you all do this. Ill have to move to The Netherlands soon! And I do want to thank my parents who support me with all this and all my friends and family I've met along the way. Oh, and that I like candy. ?>