All About Photo Awards 2019

Lee Jeffries

British Photographer

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."

Source: www.yellowkorner.com


Lee Jeffries leads a double life – as a full-time accountant near Manchester, and in his free time as an impassioned photographer of the homeless all over the world.

A self-taught photographer who started out taking pictures of stock in a bike shop, his epiphany came in April 2008 when, on the eve of running the London Marathon, he snatched a long-lens image of a homeless girl huddling in a doorway, and felt compelled to apologize to her when she called him out for it. Their resulting conversation changed not only his approach to photography; it changed his life.

Since that day Lee has been on a mission to raise awareness of – and funds for – the homeless. His work features street people from the UK, Europe and the US whom he gets to know by living rough with them, the relationship between them enabling him to capture a searing intimacy and authenticity in his portraits. He has published two critically acclaimed fund-raising books, Lost Angels and Homeless, worked with the Salvation Army on a major campaign, and donated the half-dozen cameras he's won in prestigious imaging competitions to charity. He estimates he's given thousands of pounds of his own money to help those he photographs. All this, and he's still 'an amateur'.

Source: Nikon In-Frame


Read our Exclusive Interview with Lee Jeffries
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Lee Jeffries: Homeless
Author: Lee Jeffries
Publisher: Punto Marte SRL
"The emotion I felt the first time I saw the images of the Homeless project was something which one rarely experiences in front of photographs. This might be because these are only apparently photographs. Sure, the means used is a camera; certainly, on the other side of the lens there is a reality. On the bodies and faces portrayed the signs of devastation due to an existence without any warmth, apart from that given by alcohol or drugs; bodies torn to pieces by the violence of the streets on a daily basis. What is left of such a person? And yet, in these eyes rejected by the world there is a Light, an otherworldly Light, a Light with violent flashes, that apart from pain talks about elation, truth and wisdom, bitter and infinitely sweet like the taste of freedom. The Light, “this” Light with which Lee Jeffries portrays those without a home, without a land, without anything, is the same Light that emerged from the faces of sinners, saints, common men and women painted or sculpted in marble at the feet of the Divine, be it Christ or the Virgin Mary, by artists such as Caravaggio, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Bernini, and in the greatest art pieces of European Renaissance and Baroque. Rather than photography, this is Sacred Art, And this is what remains of Jeffries’ divine tragedy: the Sacred, the real meaning of being Human, too Human, in the descent towards the netherworld and return to Heaven."
-- Giovanni Cozzi
 
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