Leemo Rante is an upcoming fashion and editorial photographer from Accrington, UK. Leemo Rante has worked in New York and the UK and we were delighted when she agreed to complete a spotlight interview with Urbanity Chic so that we could share her portfolio with you. Read on to discover how Leemo became interested in photography, what she’s hoping to achieve for the rest of this year and how she relaxes (playing Airsoft) when not working.
Q: How did you get into professional photography?
I still try to avoid calling myself a professional photographer. Robert Doisneau, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson were professional photographers, me, I’m just Leemo, the photographer… I don’t feel I’ve earned the title “professional” yet… But to answer the question, I left school with terrible grades, the only thing I had of any worth was a B in art. So that’s what I did at college. It turns out I can’t paint or draw very well, so my tutor recommended I try using photography in my work, picking up that first Zenit 11 SLR and firing off a few frames in the streets made me realize what I was supposed to do with my life. I studied up to BA level and then ran out into the big wide world with my camera and photographed whatever came my way.
Q: What do you enjoy most photographing?
I love photographing people. I’ve shot packshots and other “still life” work, and landscapes etc, but I just don’t get the same satisfaction of shooting people. (That makes me sound like a killer if it’s taken out of context…) Photographing a model, and working with a tight nit creative team is such great fun. The ideas bounce around of each other, everyone has a bit of a joke and you leave the shoot feeling great and with some fantastic work in the bag.
Q: How was 2010 for you?
Different, I travelled around Australia, shot some street fashion, and a lot of street work, worked with a lot of new models and designers and had loads of fun shooting my own projects.
Q: Who inspires you?
Pretty much everybody I shoot inspires me in some way, but photography wise, Bruce Gilden and Robert Capa have been great influences. And I can’t not mention Andrew Farrington, who taught on my degree, his work definitely had an impact on the way my images look now.
Q: What makes a good photographer in your opinion?
Someone who is not afraid to think outside the box. Take the rules of photography, put them in a cupboard and leave them there. Someone who is not afraid to play by their own rules, make it up as they go along. Someone with creative ideas, good people skills and most importantly someone who has fun whilst shooting.
Q: Do you prefer using film cameras or digital?
I started my education shooting film, I spent years playing with silver based media, even going as far as building my own 5x4 camera, but after shooting a few commissions digitally I was converted. The turnaround time, and knowing you’ve got the shot right in camera before you leave the shoot is always reassuring. I still have a fridge full of paper and film, and on a recent shoot whipped out an old canon 50E and shot a roll of Fuji NPC. The urge to look at the back of the camera was almost overpowering.
Q: Do you prefer to shoot on location or in the studio?
The world is my studio. I love shooting on location, there are so many variables and factors that can influence the shoot, both good and bad. Which can make or break a shot. I love the unpredictability of being out in the world. I was once told by an artist that “Art is all about controlling accidents” I think this is a really important thing to keep in mind when shooting on location! It may sound vein, but I also love the attention when passers by stop and watch the shoot. It’s fun to get them involved, and throw together a little five minute shoot around them and come away with a fantastic portrait aswel as the work you set out to create.
Q: Do you have an interesting stories about a particular photo shoot you’d like to share?
I have a thing about settee’s. It has turned into an obsession now, nearly every shoot I do on location ends up at some point in the day having one involved… I was shooting with a model called Sarah recently and we spotted a stunner of a settee on a back alley, a dark green leather affair. It was propped up against someone’s back wall. I had a look at it, and came up with an idea, I decided on the shot I wanted and set about dragging the settee into position. I pulled it away from the wall, and back onto it’s feet. Just as it was about to settle onto it’s feet a rather rotund ginger cat came scurrying out from a tear in the base and got itself trapped between the base of the settee and the floor. I lifted the settee up and freed the cat, which jumped out squealing turned around, hissed at us before making a b-line for the other side of the street.
Q: Do you have a favourite photograph?
It’s hard to say just one photograph that’s my favourite. I’ve been inspired by so many amazing images… It would take me forever to decide on one! But if we are talking about my own work, There is a photograph of another photographer, Sara Reid, that I’ve always loved. I can’t even really explain what it is about the image, I think it was the first image from that particular project that set the style for the rest that followed, I remember being particularly proud of it at the time.
Q: Who is your favourite photographer?
I love the work of a lot of my closest friends, Helen Aikman and Andreas Andrews both inspire me. And the 6x6 portraits by James Tunnacliffe are always breath taking. Sara Reid is also a very talented young photographer. I’ve had the pleasure of shooting her in the past.
Q: Is there anybody you would like to work with (either behind or in front of the camera)?
There are a few pro models I would love to work with, Ulorin Vex is high up there on the list, with Miss Mosh and Miss Malice to name a few. I’d love to shoot Morgan Freeman and Billy Bragg. And if I could turn back time, Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer too!
In front of the lens, I’d love to be ambushed by Bruce Gilden in Manhattan.
Q: What does fashion mean to you?
It’s a way of expressing yourself.
Q: How would you define your personal style?
I looked at a picture of DeeDee Ramone one day and said… “Yeah, that’s how I’m going to dress…”
Q: Where are you based?
The “USA” (local slang for “Uther Side of Accy” – Accy being the small Lancashire industrial town, Accrington).
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
Quiet and cold, it’s a little far from the action as far as photography is concerned, but I make my own fun!
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
Although it wasn’t the most prestigious point of my career, I really enjoyed my stint teaching ND level photography at Accrington Academy. It was great to be able to pass on some knowledge to a new generation!
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?
I really want to get back to New York and work with some of the people I didn’t get chance to the last time I was there. Over the years I’ve collected a significant stash of lighting diagrams and pre-visualization sketches of shoots and concepts, I’m hoping to get at least a few of these onto some kind of photographic media. I’d also love to put on another exhibition… Something darker and edgier… Getting more work published would make me smile too!
Q: What do you do to relax?
I always love going back over old work and trying new post production techniques on old shots… On the sunnier days I like to surf the street.
Q: What songs are on your iPod at the moment?
The screen on my iPod has been broken for a long time, so it’s either on random, or for the brief moment it decides to work I stick the Ramones or the Clash on. It’s been playing the Clash for quite a while now!
Q: Do you have interesting hobbies?
I play a sport called Airsoft. It’s easiest described as either Paintball without the paint or “Call of Duty 4D”… I’m part of a successful team and have played for nearly 11 years now. We have a youtube channel if anyone wants to see what we get up to… search “CBMPC”
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for aspiring photographers what would it be?
Shoot. All the time! Enjoy what you are doing. Photograph what you love! This really helps you relate to your subject and your work will improve!
If someone gives you harsh critical comments don’t take it to heart, take it on board and you will grow as a photographer. Assist other photographers, and network!
Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
Having a close circle of other photographers as good friends. On the days where you don’t feel your work is going the way you want, or your void of inspiration… Looking at their latest projects and thinking “Damn, they are creating fantastic work… I’d better keep up!” Friendly competition is great for motivating you!
Editor’s Note: Leemo Rante as an appreciation of composition and style that could see her enjoy a long and successful career in the fashion and photography industries.
If you’d like to see more work or contact Leemo Rante just follow the links below:
facebook link: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001831732716
web page link: www.twotadpoles.co.uk