© Jon Leahy 2017
Having left school at 15 it didn't take long to realise that there must be more to life than working as an accounts trainee in a small industrial town (my first job).
One of the up sides to growing up in a somewhat insular environment was that it stimulated my curiosity about the world outside. Someone suggested that university was an option, so five years on that's where i ended up, going on to study fine art (mostly painting) and cultural history. I soon became interested in the aesthetic and documentary possibilties of photography and armed with a cheap camera and a basic darkroom knowledge it wasn't long before i was hooked. I've always liked 'wandering around', take a camera and you learn how to see.
Influences include the work of Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank, Raymond Moore, Harry Callaghan and numerous so called Street Photographers. Although i have a personal preference for the direct, formal aesthetic of black and white, I greatly admire the colour work of William Egglestone and other similar photographers.
For around 20 years I have worked as a lecturer in media education (including photography) and continue to make photographs. Recently, I find myself spending more time photographing in public spaces though not as a 'purist' street photographer (they are a breed apart). I don't work well to particular brief's or projects and prefer to rove and snap what interests me.
The development of digital cameras has driven a dramatic increase in amount of images taken. Photography in it's many forms has become more accessible and is surely the most popular and democratic form of visual expression.
Some say this has led to a 'dumbing down' of quality and content and that camera and darkroom skills are no longer required.
They may be right, digital processes are changing things big time. However, for
me it's still about where you point your camera. The meaning, the message.
Given popular interest in photography , dedicated gallery spaces here in the UK
still seem relatively limited (with some notable exceptions). In the Bristol and Bath area where I am based we have lost a number of galleries in recent years,
including the prestigious Royal Photographic Society's Octagon Gallery in Bath. Interested parties need to actively promote and support exhibition spaces throughout the UK and indeed elsewhere. Not just pop ups but something more permanent to build upon.
For me it's all about looking and seeing. If you think a particular camera helps you do that, then fine. Most of the main digital brands seem to produce similar outcomes. It's how you use them that counts. I started with a Zenith E moved to Pentax, briefly Leica and then Nikon. All SLR cameras. Although I still have and value my Nikon mechanical cameras I now use a Nikon DSLR most of the time, though often with manual lenses. Am missing the traditional darkroom but get in there as often as I can. The digital market is constantly changing and i'm keen on
the trend towards smaller, quality, mirrorless camera's.