LEE JEFFRIES

SMOKE MIAMI

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The artist

Born in the United Kingdom, Lee Jeffries lives in Manchester and constantly travels to major Western cities to meet people living in the streets, striving to capture their nobility. Formerly an accountant, it was during a marathon he undertook in London that he crossed paths with a young woman snuggled in her sleeping bag near Leicester Square. His perception of homeless people was radically transformed and Lee Jeffries couldn't resist photographing her. This wonderful encounter marked the start of his artistic and social approach: the homeless became his main subjects. This humanist photographer explains that each image is the result of long discussions with each individual, a privileged moment that allows him to establish a connection that is particularly palpable in their gaze. The emotion is in the eyes, explains Lee Jeffries, whose majestic black-and-white portraits enable him to collect funds to assist and bear witness to the difficult living conditions of these isolated individuals.  ... See more See less

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“The photographs are the final piece of the emotional journey. They represent a personal, artistic, goodbye if you like, to the people I have met and the relationships I have developed.”

LEE JEFFRIES

About the artwork

The monochrome portraits made by British photographer Lee Jeffries represent homeless people who he captures as he roams the streets of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, London, Paris, and Rome. The black-and-white treatment reinforces the contrasts of his portraits that are characterised by a sense of violence. Lee Jeffries captures the lines of faces damaged by life ? wrinkled, blackened, and worn out. The masks fall, allowing the slow erosion, suffering, and devastation provoked by alcohol and drugs to emerge. " Irrespective of their age, homeless people have their past tattooed on their skin ," he says. Without make-up or staging, with the exception of a basic reflector that can sometimes be glimpsed in the pupils of his models, he manages to magnify these streetwalkers, restoring their humanity through the prism of his lens. What remains of such a person? Yet in their eyes, rejected by the world, there seems to be a glint of light, which, besides the pain, expresses joy, freedom, and wisdom. Just like those taken before him by Dorothea Lange on the poverty in the United States during the Great Depression, his subjects are at once outside of time and outside of the world.

Interview

How was your passion for photography born? I'm a romantic. I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life searching for something. In my 20’s and 30’s I hadn’t a clue what that was. It was only in my 40’s, when I first picked up a camera, that I ...

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Artwork details

Date photograph was taken

07 March 2019

Artwork subject

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