Conversation with Photographer Leanne Surfleet

The Interview

Let's cut to the chase: why photography?

It comes very natural to me; it feels like it’s something that I should always be doing. I don’t even have to think about it really. Photography is the only thing that I’ve ever felt truly passionate about in my life.

Your work is largely self-portraits. What has been something that you've discovered about yourself through this project?

It’s difficult to pinpoint anything specific that I might have discovered about myself, but I guess I’ve learnt that I’m a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. I’ve struggled with anxiety a lot in the past and through photographing myself through different stages in my life, good and bad, it shows me that no matter what happens I can always pull myself through and usually alone.

Do you have a favorite image that you've taken? If so, what does it mean to you?
One of my favourite photographs is a self-portrait I took in Spain in 2013 (pictured below). To me it’s so relaxing and calm, and it’s exactly how I felt when I shot it. It was so warm at the time and I was just laying on this chair next to the open glass doors with the white sheet curtain blowing about in the breeze. I felt so content and wanted to capture the moment. It was the first time I’d been out of the country for 10 years and since last flying at the age of 16 I  had developed a lot of anxieties and always thought I wouldn’t be able to handle flying again and being so far from home, but I did and it felt great. It was something that made me realize that you can’t let anything hold you back and although it can be daunting you have to just face the things that scare you and get past them.


There is a very honest quality about your work. If your images could speak, what would they say?
They’d probably tell you secrets about me that I don’t even know about. Photography is a way for me to communicate with a large audience, as I’m no good at speaking to people.

Your photography, being primarily self-portraiture, is obviously very inwardly driven, but what are your outside influences, inspirations?
I’m inspired a lot by light–how it falls or filters through a room, or illuminates things that you never noticed before, the way it reflects and bounces around. I’m inspired by women, other photographers and artists, boredom, loneliness, existentialism, the universe and nature.

Describe a beautiful moment that has stuck with you.
It’s difficult for me to remember anything specific but I know there are a lot in my mind. I notice a lot of things that maybe people around me don’t. I’m very perceptive and observant of the little things in life.

If your work could be displayed anywhere for anyone, where would it be, who would it be for, and why? What would you want them to feel from your work?
I’d like for my work to be anywhere that the right people would appreciate it, in any countries and locations. I don’t have a specific audience in mind for my photography, I just want people to find it and if it intrigues them or they relate to it, or simply just like the way it looks, then they can enjoy it with me.

Self-portraiture, to me, reveals so much about what it means to be human. What makes you human?
What makes me human is probably my imperfections, my sense of humour, everything that just makes me, me.

What would you want your wikipedia page to say?
Hopefully one day I’d like it to say that I travelled the world and published lots of photographs and books and did more than just stay home watching Seinfeld with my cat, although there’s nothing wrong with that either.

What do you think film does that digital doesn't?
For me, personally, it excites me and keeps me guessing, but always satisfies and makes me happy to see what I’ve captured. I have a bit of a bad habit of deleting files I don’t really need to clear space and I’d probably do the same if I shot with digital, but with film I will always have a hard copy to look back at and re-discover.

How do you challenge yourself in your work?
I haven’t challenged myself in a while, but its something I know I need to do to keep creating and producing work I love, but sometimes if I look at others work that I admire it challenges me to make the best work that I can possibly do.

Find Leanne’s work on her website and Facebook page.

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