Stephen Leslie creates candid public street photography, where nothing is set up or pre-planned. He navigates the streets undercover, in the shadows, whilst illuminating moments and narratives created in everyday scenes. Only using film photography means each shot has to count, and that he is forced to wait for the shot to be developed before he can view the image.
How then is Leslie's photography so unbelievably well composed? The answer is perhaps rigour. On his process, he says that 'what began as a simple way to keep visually alert in between directing jobs soon morphed in to a daily diary of images and eventually became an obsession I've been struggling to contain ever since. Now I can't physically leave the house without at least one camera and have a vast back catalog of photographs.' You can find his catalog here.
Stephen's photography is mainly shot in London but he has photographed around the world. Stephen's London scenes are so diverse in setting. From the parks to the gutters, from the bus stop to the fun fair, Stephen's shots represent the city in it's totality; as a vast and diverse ever changing landscape where the people and their stories are extremely rich but often go unheard. Each of Stephen's images tells a story, or creates characters out of subjects that are often left anonymous in the big smoke. If you've ever sat with a friend on a park bench and people watched, creating characters out of strangers (e.g 'That man with the red hat on is definitely going through a divorce' 'yeah, and the woman he's talking to is consoling him but she secretly loves him'), then you will understand. With every photo he breathes life into his characters via expert composition, setting and timing.
In Stephen's final photo postcard we are given a prime example of this. Entitled the Ice Cream Lickers, this piece is taken of a middle aged couple enjoying an ice cream. But true to Stephen's story telling tendencies, it is accompanied by a written piece. Enjoy.
Ice Cream Couple
(Accompanying story taken from his forthcoming book SPARKS which will be published by Unbound later this year.)
He thinks: Hang on a sec, this isn't pistachio. I ordered pistachio.
She thinks: He still hasn't noticed I've got his flavour by mistake.
He thinks: I think this is hazelnut. I don't really like hazlenut.
She thinks: Even if he does notice he won't say anything. He never does.
He thinks: Maybe I should go and complain?
She thinks: Like that time on the ferry from Zeebrugge when they tried to put us in to a third class cabin with mouse droppings on the bed like morse-code and we'd paid for second class. He would rather have said nothing and avoided a scene than stand up for himself. I had to sort it out in the end. I always do.
He thinks: Problem is I've eaten most of it now, it's probably too late.
She thinks: If only you could pick a husband like you can choose an ice-cream....
He thinks: It looks a little bit like the Statue Of Liberty. A tiny ice-cream torch.
She thinks: So you knew precisely what you were getting in advance.
He thinks: Maybe I could get Magda to stand holding it aloft in her right hand and I could take a picture? It would be funny. One for the album.
She thinks: I thought he was going to be exciting. He was exciting a long time ago, for about two months and then that was it.
He thinks: She wouldn't do it though. She hates me taking her photo now, says I make her look old and ugly but that's not what I see.
She thinks: Now all he does is take stupid photographs and wear those ridiculous sunglasses, like he's still a teenager.
He thinks: She never used to mind...
She thinks: And don't get me started on those shorts....
He thinks: I definitely ordered pistachio.
We are delighted to have Stephen's work as part of our Photo Postcard exhibition in October. For more info on the project and other participating artists go to http://bit.ly/2r0MUE4.