So this is the work of Lee Jeffries. “A chance meeting with a young homeless girl in the streets of London changes his artistic approach forever. Lee Jeffries recalls that, initially, he had stolen a photo from this young homeless girl huddled in a sleeping bag. The photographer knew that the young girl had noticed him but his first reaction was to leave. He says that something made him stay and go and discuss with the homeless girl. His perception about the homeless completely changes. They become the subject of his art. The models in his photographs are homeless people that he has met in Europe and in the United States: «Situations arose, and I made an effort to learn to get to know each of the subjects before asking their permission to do their portrait.» From then onwards, his photographs portray his convictions and his compassion to the world.”
Quite recently he has a great interview over 500px and I decided to post some of my favourite question/answers. Anyway, it is a unique and incredible artist.
How do you determine who will make a good subject to photograph?
Hard to explain. Impossible perhaps. It’s all about feeling. Call it a photographic eye… an immediate recognition of a situation or emotion. As soon as I feel it I just “know”.
How do you capture such strong emotion in your subjects? And how does photographing such emotion affect you personally?
My technique is as simple as being respectful and courteous. I have to gain the trust of the people I photograph long before any thought of photographing them. Only once this relationship has been established can I work in a spontaneous way. The resulting emotion is a document derived from the acceptance of my presence. Of course, when I’m done and back in the darkroom the sadness I endure is suffocating. I do try to channel that into the final image.
Who or what inspires your work?
The usual suspects of course. Nachtwey, McCullin, Koudelka. The work of other great photographers always provide a powerful impetus. I look at the message rather than technique. That’s the spark! Terrence Malick’s “The Thin Red Line” has probably shaped the metaphysical (look for that in my images… it’s almost always intentionally there) and beyond that, travel… and perhaps the biggest inspiration for any photographer… the people we meet.
The future frontcover for the book “A place inside us” [Um lugar dentro de nós]