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July 6, 2020


Photography by Catherine Naylor Leyland
Interview by Melanie Meggs

British photographer Catherine Naylor Leyland is inspired by her family, her love of travel, sunshine, people, architecture, shapes and colours. She is always thinking about composition, details and space as though she is looking through a frame. Catherine was in India for the festival of Holi, earlier in the year, just before lockdown due to Covid-19. She chose the following photographs to reflect her feeling of joy and that something magical she sees that the people and places of India inwardly possess. The sensory overload of colour, smells, noises, and the taste.

“I was in India for the festival of Holi. I chose them because they reflect the feel of something magical that the people and places of India inwardly possess. It makes me feel joy. My photography is my escape just unfortunately not my career. I have studied it both practically and academically. I have worked for photographers and others that use imagery to compliment their work, but I have a family so my photography is my companion that just bubbles away beside it all.”


THE PICTORIAL LIST: Catherine, when did you start getting interested in photography?

CATHERINE NAYLOR LEYLAND: My father bought a collection of 22, 11 x 14" black and white prints in the 1960s when he was in Borneo as a soldier. All were by a photographer known as K F Wong. They were hung on our wall and I absolutely adored the story of another world they collectively told.

TPL: Where do you find your inspiration?

CNL: My family, my travels, the people I meet and the places they keep are what inspire me and enthuse me. But then I have always been more visually curious. I like colours, tones, shapes and faces.

TPL: Who are your favourite artists/photographers?

CNL: I have many names of photographers that I admire and inspire me. Dorothea Lange, Sebastiao Salgado, Fan Ho, Don McCullin, Jimmy Nelson, Alex Webb, Vivian Maier, Lee Friedlander, and Russell Lee. I really like the work of Maude Bardet, Isabel Corthier, Eva Erdmann, Emily Garthwaite, Julia Coddington and India now has a scene of current photographers; from Pablo Bartholomew, Vineet Vohra, Rohit Vohra, Soham Gupta and Suresh Naganathan.

TPL: Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?

CNL: I used to use medium format film and always black and white. I was into Bill Brandt and Edward Weston. Currently, I only see in colour. I get depressed in shades of grey!

TPL: Do you have a favourite place to shoot?

CNL: I like to be in India. I have a certain visual, sensory and emotional attachment to it. The colours, textures, textiles, faces, and it's places.

My family, my travels, the people I meet and the places they keep are what inspire me and enthuse me.

TPL: Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision? What would you say to someone who was just starting out?

CNL: A camera is a camera. But nothing beats a quality lens. Phones these days take great images and enable someone starting out to think about composition and frame rather than technical functions with bulky apparatus. I used to use film camera initially and now have a Canon with a fixed lens, having used two zooms with it before. So equipment does help but it's all about what what works for you and your eye. And, yes, my camera is very bulky.

TPL: What characteristics do you think you need to become a good photographer? Any tips or advice for someone just starting out?

CNL: Being passionate about what you do is personal and at times hard to be subjective without looking at your image with its attached memory. You have to as a photographer let the image speak for itself and at the same time have faith in your creative choices.

TPL: Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?

CNL: Yes I have always worked with images, just not my own. I've worked for photographers and previously I have assisted on shoots. Recently I have collated the images of a fashion journalist which she shot on disposable cameras, spanning 20-30 years ago.

TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on?

CNL: I would like to go to Borneo and see the places in the photographs that I mentioned earlier. And learn more about Ken Foo Wong.

TPL: “When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…

CNL: Be seeking the sun..”

From Catherine's photographs from Holi in India, we can feel the joy and the magic of the experience. To see more of Catherine's photographs from her travel please connect with her on Instagram or through her website.

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