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How I came across Leah is a funny story. I was going through my snapchat (I hate the update so I haven’t been on it very often) and I saw Em’s (shout out to you, love you) story and I saw this cute pink haired girl. Fast forward 24 hours I’m on twitter and I see the same pretty face on my newsfeed. Having gone on her profile I saw that she does photography and goes to SHU. I checked out her photography and it’s amazing; I do photography myself so I decided to catch up with her to discuss her artform.
Name: Leah Hammond-Clay
City: Sheffield/Hemel Hempstead
Tell us a bit about yourself?
“I’m 21 and grew up in a town called Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. My hobbies include writing poetry and short stories, watching anime and taking photos. I used to do a lot of performing arts, singing and dancing when I was younger but that stopped around the age of 17. I would say that going to the west end to watch performances and musicals is one of my key interests and has been since I was old enough to understand them. I really enjoy going to galleries and exhibitions as I’m highly interested in art of any form, I find that I get a lot of my inspiration from going to different events. I am also interested in a wide selection of music, which is another source of inspiration for things such as my poetry, as well as some of the images I create.”
Have you always been a creative?
“Yes, definitely. I have been doing things even before I can remember doing them. The main thing I had always done was performing on stage and not only took part in school drama activities but also outside of school as my grandad has his own performing arts company called ‘Tryad’. When I was a lot younger, I spent most of my free time drawing, painting, writing poems, songs and stories. I also read a lot of books and played the piano up until the age of 16, so I’ve always been doing creative things. Photography was the most recent creative outlet I actually got into, and I found that it’s a brilliant way of self-expression. Anything I have produced or done has always been a form of self-expression, a way of communicating my feelings in an artistic manner, and I definitely feel that photography has become my main way of putting my feelings, thoughts and ideas into something physical, which I love.”
How did you get into photography?
“My love for photography came on out of nowhere, I never really considered it to be something I’d end up studying full time! I went on a trip with the school when I was 13 and had taken a picture of a tree on the walk when I got back to show my parents the photos I had taken they had all praised me. At around 14-15 I picked up my dad’s camera (a Canon EOS 350D) and started shooting images of my cat in the garden, or anything that piqued my interest which was mainly flowers and nature. My family had all said that I had a natural talent and eye for it, which was the starting point for my journey with photography. I decided to study it along with drama at sixth form, but after a year I felt that sixth form wasn’t for me. After I completed the year I left and went to college to only study photography for two years, where I really discovered myself through the medium. I found a love for the camera’s and taking images so after that, I realised I wanted to continue doing it for the rest of my life!”
What’s it like studying photography at SHU?
“It’s fantastic and has already opened up a lot of opportunities; not only for myself but for other students as well. They support the students really well overall and always provide constructive criticism which is great because it’s helped me grow as a photographer and understand more about why I’m doing certain things and why other things may not work. I have definitely discovered more about myself and my style of photography by coming to Sheffield Hallam to study the course. Next year is my last year, but I feel like there’s still so much to learn and I’m excited to progress further on my journey and take on more opportunities.”
What type of style is your photography?
“I wouldn’t say I’ve got a personal style just yet, I think I still have so much more room to grow and that there’s so much with photography I still want to explore. I don’t want to limit myself to one thing just yet, as I’m really excited to see my style evolve. I do however know that I enjoy shooting in the style of documentary, portraiture and fashion. The images I have produced so far over the years have all fallen into these categories, partly because I enjoy shooting them, but also because I am interested in those areas the most.”
Do you have any advice for any aspiring photographers?
“Take photos every day, and shoot anything that inspires you. One of the problems a photographer can face is lack of motivation, which partly comes from not shooting often enough. Research other photographers, don’t copy but look to them for inspiration and to help you grow on your creative journey. I think Instagram and Tumblr are really good for this so definitely use social media to your advantage. Also look to other forms of art for inspiration; I write and read a lot of poetry, as well as visiting many art exhibitions which helps inspire me for a lot of my shoots. The main piece of advice I would give is to not compare yourself to anyone else. You are an individual- your images are unique and won’t be the same as another’s. Use others work to inspire and motivate you, but never compare yourself to them. Be your own person, use photography as a way to express yourself and make sure that photography makes you happy.”
What amazing advice from Leah; hearing her passion for photography has inspired me to take it up again. Details for an exhibition Leah will be showcasing her photography in are linked below along with her social media.
Facebook Lacuna Exhibition: https://www.facebook.com/Lacunaexhibit/?ref=br_rs
Lacuna Exhibition facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/900834620070981/
Our funding donation page: https://www.gofundme.com/ctzmg7-lucuna-photography-exhibition