Lee Jeffries lives in Manchester in the United Kingdom. Close to the professional football circle, this artist starts to photograph sporting events. 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.
"If you will forgive my indulgence, This work is most definitely NOT photojournalism. Nor is it intended as portraiture. It's religious or spiritual iconography. It's powerful stuff. Jeffries gave these people something more than personal dignity. He gave them a light in their eyes that depicts transcendence, a glimmer of light at the gates of Eden, so to speak. The clarity in their eyes is awesome to behold, as if God is somewhere in there. He has made these people into more than poor old broken homeless people lazily waiting for a handout from some urbane and thoughtful corporate agent. He infused them with light, not darkness. Even the blind guy has light pouring from his sightless eyes. I think Jeffries intended his art to honor these people, not pity them. He honors those people by giving their likenesses a greater meaning. He gives them a religious spiritual significance. He imbues them with the iconic soul of humanity. I think that's what he was trying to do, at least to some degree thereof."All about Lee Jeffries:AAP: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?
I'm an accountant actually. Photography is something I do when I'm not doing that.AAP: Where did you study photography?
Self taught. No formal qualifications whatsoever.AAP:Do you have a mentor?
Nope.AAP: How long have you been a photographer?
About 5 years now. AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
My first street photograph was a young girl homeless girl in London. The story is all around the net now. My first real photograph was the woman praying in Rome. That's where the artistry began.AAP: What or who inspires you?
Emotion. People. Empathy for the suffering of others.AAP: How could you describe your style?
My own. If it looks good to me then I'm more than happy. Much more than that though...i have to feel an image. I throw it out if I dont.AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?
Digital. Old beat up Canon 5d mark 1AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?
Some take 5 minutes...some take longer...much longer. Depends on my mood. If I'm particularly into an image emotionally I will linger for hours listening to classical music over all the details.AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)?
James Nachtwey, Stephan VanfleterenAAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?
Concentrate on shooting an image. There is no substitute for emotion. A $5,000 camera wont save an image nor will hours in PS. You have to capture something from the outset. always get that bit right.AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?
Not trusting their instincts.AAP: An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share?
Just completed a year long project for Terrence Malick.AAP: Your best memory has a photographer?
Everytime I meet somebody on the street. nothing beats being out there.AAP: If you could have taken the photographs of someone else who would it be?
My fave image from anyone, anywhere: Katarina Smuraga
. Emotion. Genuine or not it has me totally convinced and shakes me to the core each time I view it. I often linger for hours into those watery eyes.AAP: Anything else you would like to share?
Exhibition opens in Rome on 18th October at the Museo di Roma in Trastevere.