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30 April 2020

Chalet Ashtray copy

© Mark Leary

Multi award winner Mark Leary talks to us about an ongoing personal project A Moment Either Side, that examines the ideas of solitude and well-being. It's certainly an interesting idea in these current lockdown times, where we have all had to adapt to a new way of living. Read on to find out more about what lead Mark to document these states of being, his style and how he values being a member.

4 Shoes

© Mark Leary

Can you remember what first prompted you to pick up a camera and what did you point it at?

Both my grandad and mum were keen photographers so I was always around cameras and the process of taking photos. Not really sure what my first roll of film produced but probably random snaps whilst on holiday somewhere. I’m sure they were blurry and out of focus though.



© Mark Leary


How would you describe your photographic style and how has it evolved over time?

The mundanity of the everyday is how I’ve come to describe my work. My answers changes every time but it’s just the ‘nothingness’ of everyday life. Compositionally I’m slightly looser in my style (originally everything was shot on a single plane) but where my work has really developed is my experimentation with colour. It was flat and bland for many years (playing on the humdrum of the minutiae of life) but I now really emphasise and build on colour in my work.


46 Col du Tormalet

© Mark Leary


As well as shooting Ad campaigns you recently completed an MA and are now also shooting short films, can you tell us more about how you adapt and evolve to photography’s forever changing role in today’s world?

Yes, the MA really pushed me both conceptually and academically. So much so that I’m now putting together my proposal for my PHD. I shot my first short film about ten years ago but it’s in the last few that I have started to drift more towards moving image than stills - so much so that I find myself directing more and more. Like a lot of photographers I find that constantly evolving both my stills and film beneficial to my career - but my emphasis on moving image has probably reflected in me getting requests for directing more.


27 Lone Swimmer

© Mark Leary


Can you tell us more about what inspired your project which focuses on solitude and mental health?

The last few years have seen me in a very transitional period location wise. My wife and I relocated to Cornwall for a few years so with the travelling back to London for production meetings, travelling to and from Bournemouth for my MA and then leaving Cornwall to finally settle back nearer to London I started exploring the concept of journeys and why people make them. This then naturally led on to exploring escaping crowds and moments of solitude and well-being. My own experiencing of needing to escape to be near the sea (I have surfed since I was five years old) was very much the starting point for the research.

Our current  situation with worldwide lockdown is allowing me to continue the exploration and push the idea towards my PHD.


20 Volvo 245DL Rear seats

© Mark Leary


What does the AOP mean to you? and what value do you personally place on being a member?

Many people would immediately mention the awards when the AOP is mentioned in conversation (and although a very important part of a photographer’s calendar) it is the legal side of things that make the AOP so important in an ever changing industry. From the fight to support fees and the usage rights of photographers’ imagery (the whole Google debacle) to the support and protection of shoots. I had to use the AOP a few years back on a small shoot I undertook without my agent. The client attempted to not pay and they fought my corner and successfully sorted out the problem. Without the AOP there could be a lot more clients chancing their luck and being corrupt and or/unscrupulous.


Chalet Ashtray

© Mark Leary


View Mark's profile

See Mark's exhibition 'A Moment Either Side' here

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