Hello Steve, we’ve loved your photographs for such a long time! Thank you for participating in the interview. Tell us a little about yourself?
I am 28, a true Brightonian of British & French origin. Today in 2016 I see myself as a Visual Artist come Adventurer. Photography has always been the most natural way for me to express myself, consequently allowing me to communicate visually what I find interesting and therefore share for the curiosity of others. Although photography is my medium, I am not a photographer, I make images I don’t take photographs. What excites me is the notion of executing a journey in order to realise a project whether it’s by foot or by bicycle, as for me journey is the key. It is only then I can truly explore my chosen environment and it gives me a concept from the start. It’s during this journey process of exploring, stopping, looking, sitting & observing that my series of images develop into coherent ideas with an added sense of accomplishment.
We were BIG fans of Boon magazine. Can you tell us how you got involved with provided photography for it?
Boon Magazine was created back in 2013 by good friends of mine Timothy Hampson, Antony Day & James Halling. I myself was involved from the beginning (Issue 1 through to Issue 5) Primarily I was assigned the role of Photographer, which developed into editing or curating anything of photographic nature including publishing Zines, curating an international Zine Exhibition, advertorials, session photography + Boon photographic content. Together we published five issues, the whole process was extremely fun, we learnt a lot & we created a little creative family. Boon magazine is a time capsule of our creative lives in Brighton during 2013/14 & I know everybody who worked on it / contributed to it cherishes it deeply.
What’s your photography set up? Film or digital, what’s your preference and why?
Film always. I studied using film & I never made the change to digital, I didn’t feel it necessary, I was comfortable using film & it suited my approach to photography. Analog offers a lot of aspects digital will never, there is a certain charm when photographing on film, whether it is the aesthetic which can be unpredictable yet extremely beautiful. There is also the slower pace of working, negatives cost money, therefore providing a more considered approach. I also enjoy not seeing what I am doing, it helps me to focus and not get distracted from the images I have constructed already in my mind. I’m not a technical person, the simpler the camera the better, it is more about the images themselves rather than what the image was achieved on. I am not saying that I don’t care about the camera because it is important to have a strong bond with your equipment you will go through everything together.
The colours in your photo series are breathtaking. How much post work do you have to do to achieve these results?
My post work tends to be kept to a minimal, I don’t like to change images too much themselves. On occasions I do add colour in post when I feel it add’s something to a particular image or series. When colour is added I tend to accentuate colours that already exist, accentuating them almost making them seem hyper-real.
You cycled around Iceland for 31 days and captured some beautiful shots; please tell us about that journey.
The journey came about after my closest pal Joe Sanders cycled solo through France, Spain & Portugal for 5 months in 2014, at the time I really wanted to go with him, but it wasn’t convenient. When he finally returned in December 2014 he seemed different, more relaxed, more adventurous, a more open minded individual. I was in awe of how he was feeling and wanted to experience the same sensations. During 2015 we started toying with the Idea of cycling around Iceland together & on May 30th 2016 we were on our way also joined by our good friend from University Gar O’Rouke. The choice to travel by bicycle was to experience this dramatic Island first hand, to learn about the true nature of this wild place. As an artist it only seemed right to document this journey, the relationships we had with each other and the respect we found for the Island. During the month, we cycled from Reykjavik and headed north in a clockwise direction, covering the west coast, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, the West Fjords, the Northern coast, Mývatn, the East Fjords & the Southern coast. Cycling is quite possibly the most gratifying way to experience a landscape, but it’s also testing for the mind and the body. It’s the only possible way to understand the trance like euphoria of cycling head on into Arctic winds over gravel mountain passes and plateaus, to be attacked by territorial sea birds, infested by swarms of midges, drowned by endless rain. It’s also the only way to experience the euphoria of cruising down long roads surrounded by fjords on either side, a steady tailwind pushing you all the way.
Personally, what has been your greatest moment, or achievement in photography?
Right now I think that is a difficult question to answer, sure I have had positive moments in my field, I’ve take part in exhibitions, been published in print & online, I’ve worked with & learnt from great individuals in the Industry. These moments for me have all been achievements, depending on what perspective I look at them. At present I would say I am mostly proud to have acknowledged what it is I enjoy about visual art / photography & that I am determined to do what makes me happy, regardless of what others are doing or for monetary gain. As a visual artist I will always be searching for unique experiences, an ambition of mine is to self-publish a Photo Book sometime in the future, it is always good to have goals.
What’s next for Steve Leon Brown? Any future projects you can tell us about?
I just recently came back from France visiting relatives. I try to go to France 3 or 4 times a year, each time I visit I make a mini photo series. During this particular visit I planned to walk a 35km section of the Canal du Midi, from Béziers to Sete. The aim of the walk was to photograph the Canal, how it integrates around constructed & natural landscapes. The Canal is now completely for the Leisure & Tourism trade, it’s interesting to see how the canal has adapted from commercial use to pleasure. My journey took 9 hours and was far more challenging that I anticipated, I ran out of water & developed serious pain in my ankles & feet, but this is all part of the experience of making long journeys. I am currently working on the images & will be publishing them on my Website & Instagram shortly.
Planned for 2017 is a solo cycling trip from Brighton to Montpellier where my mother currently resides. Its going to be a journey through France alone, revisiting places of my childhood memories & exploring places told to me in stories. Using a medium format camera the aim is to document these places from my childhood & allowing me to create my own representation of the places told to me by relatives with great admiration. By cycling alone across France it will be an opportunity for me to connect with my roots & discover places embedded in my family history.
Finally, can we see your workspace?