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Lee Jeffries

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Lee Jeffries black and white Photography

Lee Jeffries lives in Manchester in the United Kingdom.

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. (via Fubiz)

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Even before everybody had a digital camera, it was a universal modern skill to take photographs. But more than that, for a long time it’s been a universal skill to be photographed. For several decades now, everybody has known how to put on his or her game face and wait for the click. Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra has become famous by taking that as her point of departure, then wondering what happens when we can’t hold the pose. The answer: a moment of truth. One thing you learn at the new Dijkstra retrospective, currently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and moving in June to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, is that no matter how much you try to put on the social mask, it keeps slipping.

After graduating from an Amsterdam art school in 1986, Dijkstra, who is 52, made a living for a while shooting portraits for a Dutch business magazine. It was frustrating work, taking pictures of executives who knew all too well how to keep up their guard. Eventually, she returned to more personal picture-taking. Very quickly, Dijkstra found an international audience. For her breakthrough project in the early ’90s, she persuaded teenagers at beaches in the U.S. and Europe to pose against a bare backdrop of sky, sea and shore. The fascination of those pictures comes partly from the mind’s attempt to reconcile the “timeless” setting with the sometimes awkward, and often futile, attempts by the teens to assume the attitudes of glamor and cool they think the camera requires.

Hoping to catch people with their defenses down, Dijkstra started to photograph them in the aftermath of some exhausting event. She got women to pose soon after giving birth, usually standing naked while they cradled their newborns. By 1994 she was also making portraits of Portuguese forcados—amateur bullfighters who enter the ring in unarmed groups to subdue the bulls bare-handed. She photographed them right after they returned from the fight, bloody, scuffed and dented.

To watch someone evolve from youth into adult awareness, Dijkstra has sometimes followed a single subject for years—a French boy who joins the foreign legion, a Bosnian refugee girl as she grows up in the Netherlands—as his or her life goes through changes. Or, as she did with the kids on beaches, she will go to parks and photograph very contemporary people in a setting that pulls them out of time—but only so far. And to make sure her pictures don’t take on a false timelessness, Dijkstra makes sure each one carries in its title the very real location in which it was taken and the date.

Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective is on display from Feb. 18 through May 28 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and will open at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City on June 29.

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Last month LightBox featured the work of Lee Jeffries, a self-taught photographer who is crusading to bring attention to the plight of the homeless. Most recently, he traveled to Florida from the end of January through early February to continue the series he began in London four years ago.

It was a poignant time for Jeffries to be in Miami. The Sunshine State held its Republican primary on Jan. 31., and the following day, contest winner and GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney said in an interview that he was “not concerned about the very poor” because “we have a safety net there.” In Miami, the photographer documented some of the city’s most impoverished—many of whom have fallen through the “safety net” Romney described and find themselves homeless, living on the streets. As he does on every trip, Jeffries met and spent time with people on an individual basis—listening to their life stories, taking their portraits and trying to help them in any way he could.

Here LightBox presents an exclusive first look at Jeffries’ latest images of his powerful and moving portrait series on the homeless population—a series that has previously taken him from his native Manchester, England, to Rome, Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas. Jeffries says first few days of each trip are always tentative. He tends to make small steps into the areas he has researched prior to his visit. This time around, Jeffries focused on Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, Fifth Street and Overtown, which has achieved a certain notoriety for being one of the tougher areas of town.

As this trip progressed Jeffries found that each area of Miami had its own distinct characteristics. Miami Beach, which includes South Beach, had a homeless population that tended to drift in from the downtown areas during the course of the week, perhaps for safety or the relative ease of panhandling from the richer tourists. Seeing downtown Miami’s sidewalks literally lined with homeless people surrounded by bags or trolleys of their entire worldly possessions immediately took Jeffries’ mind back to the hundreds of homeless people he had encountered lining Fifth St. and St. Julian, the address of Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood.

In Overtown, located just above downtown, Jeffries found a mix of homeless people and housed families. Originally called Colored Town during the city’s segregated past, it is a major center of the African-American population and Jeffries says he found the community a little daunting to enter at first. But that didn’t last long. “I soon met some people who touched my heart so deeply I will never forget them,” he says, noting that only chance stood between their situation and that of anyone else.

One such person was Latoria, a 29-year-old who has lived in Overtown for just over a year and whose genuine sadness made a particularly deep impression on the photographer. “I spent time with her every day of my trip since our first meeting,” says Jeffries. “Her uncompromising addiction to crack cocaine was both obvious and tragic and I often watched helplessly as she fed that addiction. Perhaps the most moving aspect for me was witnessing her almost child-like vulnerability. There was just something about her that just screamed the tragedy of a wasted life.”

Then there was Terri, also living in Overtown, who has been on the streets on and off since she was 13;  ”Flowers,” a cool Jamaican property owner; “Cooper,” a homeless man Jeffries met in a cemetery;  and “Calvin” from Overtown, who was shot in the eye 1981 during a gang war.

“They are all part of the community,” Jeffries says, “and that is exactly what places like Overtown and Downtown Miami are: communities of people who shouldn’t be feared but respected and embraced and helped wherever possible. I have the utmost respect for every person I met there, and I hope I left with theirs.”

See Jeffries’ earlier work on LightBox here.

Lee Jeffries is a photographer based in Manchester, England. See more of his work here. Jeffries asks that readers interested in helping the homeless population of Miami visit Caring for Miami.

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In 2008, accountant and amateur photographer Lee Jeffries was in London to run a marathon. On the day before the race, Jeffries thought he would wander the city to take pictures. Near Leicester Square, he trained his 5D camera with a long, 70-200 lens on a young, homeless woman who was huddled in a sleeping bag among Chinese food containers. “She spotted me and started shouting, drawing the attention of passersby,” Jeffries says. “I could have just walked away in an embarrassed state, or I could have gone over and apologized to her.” He chose the latter, crossed the street and sat with the woman. The eighteen-year-old, whose complexion indicated she was addicted to drugs, told Jeffries her story: her parents had died, leaving her without a home, and she now lived on the streets of London.

This experience had a profound effect on Jeffries, sharpening the focus on the subject matter of his street photography—the homeless—and defining his approach to taking pictures. He didn’t want to exploit these people or steal photographs of them like so many other photographers who had seen the homeless as an easy target. In an effort to make intimate portraits, Jeffries would try to connect with each person on an individual basis first. “I need to see some kind of emotion in my subjects,” Jeffries says. “I specifically look at people’s eyes—when I see it, I recognize it and feel it—and I repeat the process over and over again.” Jeffries tries to keep the contact as informal as possible. He rarely takes notes, feeling it immediately raises suspicion, and prefers to take pictures while he is talking with his subjects to capture the “real emotion” in them. “I’m stepping into their world,” he says. “Everyone else walks by like the homeless are invisible. I’m stepping through the fear, in the hope that people will realize these people are just like me and you.”

Self-taught and self-funded, Jeffries has used vacation time to travel to Skid Row in Los Angeles three times, as well as Las Vegas, New York, London, Paris and Rome, to continue his project. The way that Jeffries processes his images and the heavy use of shadow and light within his pictures is a direct reference to the religious overtones he felt while photographing the beggars and homeless in Rome. The underexposure in camera and process to dodge back light where he wants it—although done in a digital environment—relate more to the traditions of analog printing. The effect of the subjects on the photographer is equally heavy: “When I’m talking to these people, I can’t then leave that emotion, so when I get back to my computer so emotionally involved, sometimes I will start to cry when processing the image,” Jeffries says.

The photographer’s passion has become his life mission. He uses his photography to draw attention to and raise funds for the homeless, posting the images to Flickr and entering the work into competitions. Over the past three years Jeffries has placed third, second and second in an annual Amateur Photographer magazine award contest, and has won separate monthly contests which come with a camera as a reward. Each of the half dozen cameras he’s won has been donated to raise funds for charities, including homeless and disability organizations. The proceeds from Jeffries’s Blurb book, which features homeless portraits, go to the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles and the photographer allows any charity to use his images free of charge. Jeffries also runs the London and New York marathons to raise money for Shelter, a U.K. housing charity. He’s committed himself at a more personal level too, buying lunch for a man who had lost his fingers and toes to frostbite or taking a woman with a staph infection to the hospital when she was sick. Jeffries estimates he has given thousands of dollars to these individuals, but what he has given them in terms of a sense of dignity and outpouring of concern is immeasurable.

Jeffries’s powerful portraits are getting noticed. He recently won Digital Camera magazine’s Photographer of the Year award. There has been an explosion of interest in the last two to three months as the images have been shared across the web, spreading virally via Flickr, Facebook and Twitter, and more recently, appearing on blogs and in mainstream media including the Independent and Guardian. A book is slated to be published next month by Yellow Korner. The increased exposure is welcome news for a man whose self-funded journey can be difficult. “I can’t change these people’s lives,” he says. “I can’t wave a magic wand but it doesn’t mean I can’t take a photograph of them and try to raise awareness and bring attention to their plight.”

Lee Jeffries is a photographer based in Manchester, England. See more of his work here.

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Apologies for no updates in nearly three weeks…just been busy with own work… But here we go again. Loads to share…

Features and Essays

Brilliant…Full edit of Gene Smith’s classic ‘Country Doctor’ online for the first time on LIFE.com….

Eugene Smith: Country Doctor (Life.com)

Finally received the first issue of my annual National Geographic Magazine subscription..Bought annual deal in NatGeo’s Regent Street store in London in August…Found out in December my activation hadn’t gone through, and then told should start receiving issues from January….Got on my nerves…Five months wait… oh well… Glad to finally being able to enjoy print issues on regular basis…From the February 2012 issue….

Amy Toensing: Papua New Guinea’s Cave People (NGM)

Gerd Ludwig: Astana, Kazakhstan (NGM)

This week’s Time International cover story…Christopher Morris has been back to the White House…

Christopher Morris: Inside Barack Obama’s World (Lightbox)

Republican primaries…

Two series by Charles Ommanney for Newsweek…

Charles Ommanney: South Carolina Trail (Newsweek)

Charles Ommanney: The Granite State Weighs In (Newsweek)

Chris Morris from New Hampshire for TIME…

Christopher Morris: New Hampshire Primary (Lightbox)

Brooks Kraft: Running Romney (Photo Booth)

Mark Makela: How to Run for President (zReportage)

One year since the Egypt revolution…Ed Ou video and slideshow on NYT

Ed Ou and Ben Solomon: Reflections on an Unfinished Revolution (NYT) video

Ed Ou: Youth in Egypt (NYT Lens)

Ed Ou: The Ongoing Revolution (Photographer’s website)

Denix Dailleux: Egyptian Artists (Newsweek)

Nice series by Adam Dean…

Adam Dean: Kachin Come Under Siege in Myanmar (NYT)

Erika Larsen’s beautiful Sami work on NYT Lens…

Erika Larsen: Sami People (NYT Lens)

Alejandro Chaskielberg:  Horn of Africa (BBC)

Eunice Adorno: The Flower Girls: Mennonites in Mexico (Lightbox)

Ed Kashi: Turkey (VII)

Nikos Economopoulos: India in Colour (Magnum)

Ron Haviv: The Devastating Costs of the Amazon Gold Rush (Smithsonian)

Glenna Gordon: Living with the Past in Liberia (Lightbox)

Greg Girard: Lifestyle on U.S. Military Bases (NYT Lens)

Rina Castelnuovo: In Israel, a Clash Between the Secular and Ultra-Orthodox  (NYT)

Steve Shelton: Sudan’s Secession Crisis (zReportage)

Richard Tsong Taatarii: Baby Buddha (zReportage)

Mimi Chakarova: Sold for Sex in Eastern Europe (CNN Photo blog)

Luigi Baldelli: Afghanistan (Corriere.it)

Leon Borensztein: American Portraits (Lightbox)

Sean Gallagher: The Smog That Ate Beijing (Foreign Policy)

Louise Serpa: Sweetheart of the Rodeo (NYT Lens)

Brian Cassey: Hong Kong’s Poor Living in Cages (CNN Photo blog)

Leonard Freed: Behind New York City’s ‘Police Work’ (Lightbox)

Jeff Harris: 4,748 Self-Portraits and Counting (Lightbox)

Giuliano Camarda: Jahalin Bedouins in East Jerusalem (Photographer’s website)

Åsa Sjöström: Turkana Draught (Moment Agency)

Ragnar Axelsson: Greenland (Polka)

Joel Sternfeld:  First Pictures (Photo Booth)

Kalpesh Lathigra: From the Film Set of ‘Coriolanus’ (Photobooth)

Jessica Ingram: Following the Trail of Civil Rights (NYT Lens)

Joseph Szabo: Coming of Age in America (Lightbox)

Davide Monteleone: Red Thistle (VII)

NPR photographer David Gilkey has been discovering Russia by rail…

David Gilkey: Russia By Rail (NPR)

Larry Racioppo: New York Housing Pictures (NYT Lens)

Peter Mcdiarmid: Year in Pictures 2011 (Photographer’s Vimeo)

Kieran Dodds: The Scottish Highland Games (The Atlantic)

Lee Jeffries: Homeless (Guardian)

Interviews

Chris Johns, Editor, National Geographic Magazine (burn Magazine)

Patti Smith (BBC)

Steve McCurry on fall of Kodak (BBC)

Alejandro Chaskielberg (BBC)

Adam Dean (Digital Photo Pro)

Luca Sage (Sojournposse)

Guy Martin (BBC) Starts at around 17 mins.

Toni Greaves : Radical Love, The Promise (BJP)

Jason Larkin : Cairo Divided (BJP)

Joel Sartore (NPR)

Heidi Levine on working in Libya (laurenmwolfe.com)

Chris Floyd (Hungry Eye Mag Vimeo)

Maggie Steber (NPR)

Ron Haviv (TV4.se)

Jim Wilson (NYT Lens)

Umit Bektas, Reuters photographer ,  reflects on the essence of war (MSNBC)

Rineke Dijkstra (PDN)

Shelby Lee Adams : An Ode to Appalachia (PDN)

Christopher Manson (NYT Lens)

Errol Morris : ‘We’ve forgotten that photographs are connected to the physical world’ (Guardian)

Sebastian Liste (GUP Magazine)

John McDermott (PDN)

Antonio Faccilongo (KL Photoawards)

Sean Gallagher (Asiasociety.org)

Articles

photo: William Eggleston

Guardian: The Month in Photography |The Observer New Review’s monthly guide to the 20 best photographic exhibitions and books, featuring Pieter Hugo, Eve Arnold, William Eggleston, Don McCullin and Annie Leibovitz|

photo: Simon Roberts

FT: A New Beginning(FT Magazine) | “After the disasters of the past year, we asked photographers to look at the people and places putting themselves back together again in 2012″ |Toshiki Senoue,  Davide Monteleone, John Davies, Jim Dow, Antoine Doyen,  Massimo Vitali, Simon Roberts, Laura Pannack,  Michael Collins, and Marcus Bleasdale

NYT: Blame Photoshop, Not Diabetes, for This Amputation

Radu Sigheti: The Problem with Prizes (Reuters photo blog)

BBC News: Syria unrest: French journalist Gilles Jacquier killed

World Press Photo: Preparing for Judging

David Burnett: Talent Added: Photojournalism

Ed Kashi: 3 Qualities of a photojournalist

Little Brown Mushroom blog: On Marrying a Photographer

AP: AP opens full news bureau in North Korea

Guardian: Why newspapers are closing the shutters on staff photographers

Guardian: Is photography the most influential medium for environmental awareness?

Guardian: Decisive moment? Smartphones steal focus from point-and-shoot cameras

Congratulations to Danfung Dennis for being nominated for an Oscar for Hell and Back Again…

Oscar.go.com: Documentary Feature Nominee: Hell and Back Again

Aidan Sullivan to Replace David Friend as World Press Photo Jury Chair (Reportage Tumblr)

Wayne Ford: The Suffering of Light: Thirty Years of Photographs’ by Magnum Photographer Alex Webb

David Gonzalez: Life — and Kodak — Remembered (NYT Lens)

Ben Roberts: Exposure Don’t Buy You Shit! (Photographer’s blog)

Poynter: Washington Post raises eyebrows, questions with ‘composite’ photo on front page

NYT Lens: The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League

NYT Lens: William Gedney’s View of Myrtle Avenue

NYT Lens: Parting Glance: Eve Arnold 

Sean O’Hagan writes on Eve Arnold’s touching photograph of a bar girl in Havana…

Guardian: The big picture: Bar Girl in a Brothel in the Red Light District, Havana, 1954

Guardian: Happy birthday, Firecracker: the site for female photographers | In an industry still dominated by men, Firecracker promotes and supports women working in photography

NYT: After an Arrest, Civil Rights Questions

CNN: CNN Digital Names Simon Barnett As Photography Director 

Guardian: Leo Maguire’s Best Shot

BJP: Christopher Anderson signs with New York Magazine

BJP: AFP v. Morel: Both parties moving for summary judgment

BJP: Photographer Lauren Greenfield sued for defamation

BJP: How are the Tate, V&A and National Media Museum investing in photography?

BJP: London Underground apologises for DSLR ban blunder

photo: Chris Hondros

Foreign Policy: Photos that mattered in 2011

NYT Mag 6th floor blog: Entering Weegee’s World

DuckRabbit: Cameras, communication and the intimacy of a moment.

David Campbell: Thinking Images v.25: Iran as perpetual enemy

Miniature helicopter in new use…

NGM: Field Test: Serengeti Lions

Comments on crowdfunding…

Joerg Colberg: Crowdfunding is not a cash cow (Conscientious)

Pete Brook: The Etiquette of Crowdfunding (Prison Photography)

Verve: Birthe Piontek

Verve: Kevin Kunishi

Verve: Dimitri Stefanov

Verve: Tomasz Lazar

How to make a Magnum in Motion-style essay

7 Tips for HD Color Correction and DSLR Color Correction

A Few Thoughts on Filenames…

multiMedia

photo: Joachim Ladefoged

Once Magazine Issue 4 is for sale in the App store

The cover story is by Joachim Ladefoged… If you don’t have an iPad and thus no access to Once Magazine, you can view Ladefoged’s terrific 2003 Newfoundland series on his agency VII’s website here.

British Journal of Photography – iPad App

Crowd funding

‘McCullin’ – Feature Documentary (indiegogo)

Exhibitions

The Last Days of Mubarak : Photos by Guy Martin and Ivor Prickett : Host Gallery : London : 9 February – 10 March 2012

Peter diCampo: Life Without Lights : 6 -12 February 2012 11am – 6pm at The Strand Gallery : London

Nobel Peace Center to present Hetherington, Addario exhibition

Awards, Grants, and Competitions

Leica Oskar Barnack Award

Center International Awards

Lumix Festival for Young Photojournalism 

Renaissaince Photography Prize Calling for Entries

Hillmann Prize nominations

Photobook Dummy Award 2012

Useful site for grants and awards etc. …The Curator Ship

PDN Photo Annual : Deadline: 25 January

Hasselblad’s Masters Award winners announced

Events

UK Premiere: Under Fire: Journalists in Combat, February  8 :  7pm :  Frontline club : London

Sneak preview of the above on YouTube here

powerHouse Portfolio Review : NYC

PhotoFest : Mexico

Agencies

Magnum Photos January 2012 Newsletter

VII Photo Newsletter January 2012

BJP: VII Photo appoints new director of business development

Jobs

UPI : senior staff photographer in LA

Summer internship on NPR’s Social Media Desk

Photographers

Simon Roberts has updated his website….

Simon Roberts

Kalpesh Lathigra

Fritz Hoffman

Monique Jaques

Giuliano Camarda

Jonathan May

Rhea Karam

Equipment

CPN: Gary Knight introduces the new Canon G1X

BJP: Fujifilm goes back to its professional roots, releases the X-Pro 1

To finish off… Fotoshop by Adobe

and Texting While Walking

and This is Brighton

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