Born on May 22nd 1980, conceptual photographer Leigh Eros creates whimsical imagery with beautiful nature settings that make the viewer escape into lush landscapes as they appreciate the beauty and simplicity of human nature. Every image tells some kind of story and you can tell that the subject always has something going on inside their mind. Although, at first, her images might seem serene, there is some kind of action that has taken place or will take place. There is no doubt though, that each piece is full of personality and color!
Her work is not based on a message that she wants to convey other persons as much as it is based on stories she wants to tell herself. She has a need to explore inside herself and externalize those magical and fantastical stories than any artist believe can exist!
In this interview, we not only find out more about what Leigh does but also, get to know her just a little bit better. It is our belief that getting to know artists as people and not just as creators of beautiful productions, will help more of us understand where their work comes from and how we can relate to them.
CONCEPTUAL MAGAZINE: Leigh, tell us about yourself. How old are you? Where are you from? Where do you live? What do you do exactly?
LEIGH EROS: Hi! I’m 35 years old, I’m Canadian but I spent my youth moving between Canada and the UK, before finally settling in Edinburgh, Scotland. I trained and worked as a Veterinarian but after I had my first child I decided I didn’t want to go back to that career. I now have two kids, 5 years and 3 years old, and I look after them as well as working at my photography.
CM: What made you begin doing photography? When did you first pick up a camera?
LE: I’ve always enjoyed photography as a hobby and I started doing some black and white film photography at University. I loved being in the darkroom and I found it strangely calming. When I left university and began working as a Vet, I didn’t have much time for it any longer and I didn’t really pick up a camera in a serious way until after I had kids. I was looking after two young children full time and I started feeling the need to do something just for me again. So, I dabbled with lifestyle, wedding and family photography and quickly realized it wasn’t “me”. I came across the work of Brooke Shaden and I was amazed at how different realities can be created with the use of Photoshop. I had a play in PS myself and I was hooked!
CM: Tell us about your photographic style in more detail. How did you develop it? How has your style changed? What made it evolve?
LE: It is hard for me to define what my style is. Other people tell me that I definitely have a distinctive style but I sometimes can’t feel it and feel that I’m all over the place! I think I’m still developing and experimenting and trying different things. I’ve only been using Photoshop and creating conceptual images for about 18 months so, I still feel very much like a novice at times. One thing I notice when I look at my portfolio is that colour has definitely come into my images and become more important over time. My initial pieces feel somewhat less saturated than the palettes I tend to work to these days. I think I’ve become a bit braver in my use of colour and I have good understanding of colour theory which wasn’t something I necessarily even thought about when I started.
CM: Why did you choose to create fantasy work or conceptual photography?
LE: I really can’t pin down exactly what started me on this road. In fact, when I was searching for my niche in the many photographic genres that exist, I actively dismissed conceptual photography. I remember seeing Brooke Shaden on Creative Live, watching it for half an hour and thinking to myself, “I’m never going to do that kind of thing..” and switched it off. Of course, a month later I was hooked on her work, buying that very same Creative Live class and spending every night learning about using Photoshop for manipulations/composites from YouTube videos! A total 180 degree turnaround and I can’t for the life of me remember what sparked it!
CM: Your images tell such beautiful stories. You can just imagine watching a beautiful movie from ages past. How do you come up with your concepts or develop your ideas? What inspires you?
LE: Thank you so much! I’m constantly inspired by poetry and song lyrics, they are a wonderful source if I’m feeling the creativity lag. I have quite diverse and eclectic interests which I think helps. I’m a sucker for passion, I love softness and vulnerability. But I feel that to be truly vulnerable with another person takes strength. To give yourself to another that much, all the fears that you have to overcome to do that - to let someone else see the truth of your self. It is hard. That contrast of having the strength to surrender, it is endlessly interesting and inspiring to me.
CM: What is your workflow like?
LE: In a word - convoluted. Generally, though I will start by compositing my frames together - I use the Brenizer Method in almost all of my images, sometimes stitching 40+ frames together for a single image. Once the background is stitched, I start cleaning up any distracting elements and doing my retouching and dodge & burning. At this point, I usually apply a gradient map or two and then use curves to adjust the lighting in the image. I’ll then do any colour adjustments I want to make. I usually finish off each image in Alien Skin Exposure by adding grain and sharpening and possibly a modified filter. I also use it for my Black and white conversions.
CM: What other types of photography have you experimented with?
LE: In terms of genres, I think the usual - Family, Weddings, a little bit of Sue Bryce-inspired Portraiture.
In terms of techniques, I am fascinated by Intra red photography and have played around a bit with an IR lens filter and landscapes. Having one of my old cameras converted to IR is on my wish list for sure as it would allow me to take portraits and be able to shoot handheld in IR. I think it could be super cool for conceptual fantasy work.
CM: Is your photography influenced by other artists? If so, which?
LE: Definitely, there are so many amazing photographers who’s work I love to follow. Brooke Shaden, Tim Walker, Bella Kotak, Kirsty Mitchell, Tyler Rayburn, Kory Zuccarelli, Ines Rehberger…I could go on all day!
CM: Any other artists that you love?
LE: I know this is a terrible thing to admit, but I’ve never been very interested in Art! I’ve always loved photography but I’m not one for visiting art galleries very often. I do really love the work of Alexa Mead and also the natural sculptures of Andy Goldsworthy.
CM: What projects have you done or accomplished that make you feel proud of yourself?
LE: I’m not very good at sticking to specific projects and series of images, I get too easily distracted by new ideas! But I am proud of my self portraits. I have a love-hate relationship with them, but when they do work out, I find it really satisfying to feel that I created the entire work of art myself. That it would not exist in this world if not for me. That is something I can feel proud of.
CM: Are you working on any special projects at the moment?
LE: I have some exciting collaborations in the works I’m looking forward to them. I was hoping to create a series this year on the theme of Solace but man, I’m finding it hard to carve out the time needed to do it!
CM: Have you exhibited your work? If so, tell us about those adventures?
LE: I have one image that is currently on tour with the Royal Photographic Society’s Biennial Exhibition though I’ve not been able to see it up anywhere myself. That image was shown at the Royal Academy Open Exhibition in Edinburgh last year and it was a bit surreal seeing my work up on a gallery wall. It is definitely something I’d like to do more of in the future and I’d love to have a solo show one day, but I’ll need to start actually sending my work to galleries for that to happen I guess!
CM: What has your work brought to your life that you would have never experienced if it wasn’t for photography?
LE: It has allowed me a creative expression that I wouldn’t otherwise have, and has shown me that I actually am creative. I’ve always believed that I’m not artistic or creative at all (I still can’t draw to save my life), so discovering this side of has been a revelation. I’ve also met some really amazing, fun people through it so I’m very thankful.
CM: Is photography your business or do you do anything else?
LE: Apart from looking after my children, I don’t do anything except my photography. Though calling it a business would be a bit of a stretch of the imagination. ;)
CM: Haha! What are your plans for the future?
LE: I’m not thinking too far ahead just now, I’d love to have my work shown in more galleries so I’ll have to dig up the bravery to put it out there! I’m still figuring out what exactly really draws me to an image, and I want to think more about creating work that really expresses myself, without any consideration of what reception that work might get, because I think that is something that holds me back.
CM: Anything else you would like to talk about or tell us?
LE: I’d love to thank you for interviewing me for Conceptual Magazine :) It’s a beautiful magazine that has grown from a wonderful and supportive community of artists. It’s an honour to be featured.
CM: Thank you so much, Leigh! I appreciate your words! It is an honor to feature you in our pages!