A World That Others Can't See... with Simon Leach


Our role as photographers is to capture a world that others can't see, and in this process we leave a little bit of us in every photo that we take. In a way, every single one of our photographs is also a portrait of ourselves.

In this series, A World That Others Can't See, I ask fellow photographers to talk about an image from their portfolios in order to discover the stories behind their work and to learn about the person behind the lens.

For the fourth post of the series, lifestyle advertising photographer Simon Leach talks about his personal work, the importance of collaboration and how to know when you are being asked to work for free.

Simon says: “I have selected my ‘Gymnasium’ series. In selecting this series I hope to highlight the importance of personal work – something I consider to be a vital ingredient in any photographer’s portfolio.

There is currently much talk and publicity about the ‘#NOFREEWORK’ campaign (initiated largely by The Freelancer Club) and its underpinning ethos that creatives should not provide their services for free, under any circumstances. Whilst I wholly support and am signed up to this initiative (promises of exposure or future work should not replace appropriate remuneration), it is important not to lose sight of the need for creative individuals to explore ideas and concepts.

There is a difference between ‘personal work’ and ‘free work’ - the latter ultimately benefiting an individual, business or service, not just yourself and your creative team. With personal work there is complete freedom to explore a joint vision. With ‘free work’ the ‘client’ requires specific content that has to take priority.

The Gymnasium series was ‘personal work’ and with it, as with other such projects, I have been extremely lucky to collaborate with some incredibly talented, creative and trusting people. For me personally, it is within such a collaborative environment that I feel challenged to bring my A-game. The images showcased here came from such a process, working initially with one of the models, Rob, later with the make-up artist, Vickie, and second model, Tanya, to develop my ideas. I was assisted by Jon Cooney.

The series of images were shot at my old secondary school weeks before the old gymnasium was scheduled to undergo modernisation. Windows dominated the length of the room and presented me with a brilliant opportunity to mix controlled studio light with natural light for ambiance – a technique I’m particularly fond of using. This series features a couple of Profoto studio heads, used to light the shot, which were manually balanced with the available light - evident on the back wall.

The result: a warm, relaxed and natural looking image.”

That is brilliant, Simon! Thank you so much for sharing with me this gorgeous series! You can see more work from this very talented photographer at www.simonrleach.com.

If you haven't read the previous posts of this series, you can check the whole series here. I hope you liked this new post and stay tuned for a different photographer each month!

Photo credit: portrait of Simon Leach © 2019 JC Candanedo

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