Places & Faces
Hello, my name is Leon Antonio James, I was born and raised by English – Jamaican parents in the South East of England, and later moved to London to pursue a career as a photographer. There I worked in photography studios and as an Interior property photographer. Now my base is Barcelona – (I needed some sun.)
I’m a multi-genre photographer, mainly shooting street scenes, capturing the human element with a cinematic essence, travel documentary, and raw editorial/portraiture. In a brief summary: places and faces. I also delve into still life and product photography for an up-and-coming “mock-up company” that I am a part of, called “Format Mockups”.
I got into photography in college, back in the 90s when it was just analog (mainly B&W) and darkrooms. Back then, it was mostly a fantasy to own a camera as it wasn’t affordable. At that point, I used drawing, music, and graffiti, as my main outlets for creativity, keeping my eyes busy. I started playing around with disposable cameras and digital compacts about 5 years after college, documenting friends’ parties, outings, holidays, and music events.
Skipping some years into the future, I was introduced to the Canon system. I had some friends that I met at the local bars and clubs with their Canon 5D Mk1s, doing the events, and found this to be really influential. Whilst at UNI, I finally got myself a Canon, not quite a 5D, but a toy version, the 1000D. I was absolutely clueless and didn’t really know anything about it, if I’m being honest. Long story short; a close friend of mine, Peter Brenchley, who owned a Mamiya RB67 and a Mamiya C330, re-introduced me to film. Gosh, the results of these cameras blew anything digital out of the water, and at that point, I knew I had to switch. I sold anything digital I had and purchased my first film camera, the Canon AE-1, thank you, Nadeem, for the recommendation. From there, the addiction grew, and this was all I wanted to do in my spare time.
For editing, I use the Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Suite. All the colour balancing and corrections are done within LR. For minor tweaks, I take the images over to PS for a little extra magic. With the Fuji system, I shoot in RAW, although the JPEGS are amazing, it really depends on the importance of the photo for me to settle on the right format. For example, Jpeg for Insta Stories and Raw for a website. I tend to create presets in my workflow which I highly recommend, or I use a couple from other creators I like as a base for the mood I’m looking to portray. I’m working towards releasing my own pack of presets eventually.
The cameras I have used are as follows:
▫ Canon AE-1
▫ Canon Canonet
▫ Canon AF35
▫ Hasselblad 500C/M
▫ Pentax 67
▫ Mamiya C330
▫ Contax T2
▫ Mamiya 7
▫ Nikon F
▫ Nikon F100
▫ Olympus mju
▫ Minolta XD-1
▫ Canon 6D
▫ Canon 5D
My favourites in that list would be the Pentax 67, the Nikon F and F100, although sadly, these were the cameras sold to purchase the Fuji X-T3.
My favourite film stocks are hands down, Kodak Portra 400 and 800 in 120mm format, and Kodak Gold and Kodak Portra 160 in 35mm, Fuji PRO 400H (120mm) is dope also. (Make sure you overexpose).
Shooting film became far too expensive and the work rate just wasn’t up to speed.
After the pandemic, I needed to make up for lost time. I had been without photography and outdoor or human engagement for almost 2 years. I wanted a system that would produce quality images on the fly, maintain that style, and feel I had developed whilst shooting analog.
Giving consistency across my portfolio was crucial to me. After discovering the Fuji system with the film simulations and customisable recipes, I was convinced that this was the way forward – and so far so good.
The only camera I own right now is the Fuji X-T3, with the XF18-55mm F2.8 kit lens, and a Viltrox 23mm F1.4.
Travelling, for me, is an integral part of life, knowledge, and education. I want to explore as much of the world as I possibly can.
I’m lucky to have travelled to many places in Europe and keep taking trips here and there. Outside of Europe, I had 3 main adventures so far: to Havana Cuba, Rajasthan India, and Egypt.
For photographic purposes, I would most certainly return to Cuba and India again. I also go for the culture in general, but photography is always one of my main purposes.
The subjects that draw me in the most are places with a lot of unfamiliarities. It has to have something different to the everyday life I’m used to; a different vibe and energy, culture and religion. Natural light is also VERY important as it creates the dimensions and sets the moods.
“Let the light be your guide”
Leon Antonio James is a British/Jamaican multi-genre photographer, currently based in Barcelona, Leon’s work mainly consists of street documentation, travel and portraits, his use of shapes and light adds a cinematic style that creates the art of storytelling within the captured frames.