In a new book about the life of a black photographer in the 1990s, journalist Jonathanleder reflects on the importance of finding his own voice and finding a way to express himself without the pressure to conform to a certain aesthetic or a certain set of values.
Leder’s book, Black Photography: The Lessons of my Career, traces his journey from the dark, dingy and dusty streets of Los Angeles to the lush gardens of Paris and the sunny beaches of California, as he worked with the likes of John Waters, Brian Eno, Mavis Staples, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, George Harrison, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, Billy Bragg and many more.
“I thought that was the biggest lesson I had to learn as a black person, was just that you can do what you love and what you know is good and do it,” Leder told The Associated Press.
“You can’t tell people to change their way of thinking, just like you can’t change your style.
That’s just the way it is.
I didn’t really see it that way at all, because I was too busy trying to get along.
It was a huge mistake.
That was the first time I was really like, ‘Oh, man, I need to learn something.'”
The author of two acclaimed books on the art of photography and the life and career of photographer Jonathon Leder, Black Photographer: The Black Photographer’s Journey tells the story of his journey as he explores his personal evolution and looks back on his 20-year career.
Leder started his career as a street photographer and eventually worked as a photojournalist and film maker.
He published a book of his work in 2009, called The Black Photographers, which garnered him the National Magazine Award for Photography.
The Associated Press obtained the book and spoke with Leder through an interpreter.
In the book, Leder says he’s proud of his legacy.
He says his work has shaped and inspired the culture of photography, but he is also a person who wants to see it go further.
“The greatest lesson of the last 20 years for me is that I was willing to go to the extreme,” he said.
“That was the greatest gift I had.”
Leder grew up in South Central Los Angeles, where he had a crush on the late singer and producer Alicia Keys, who he met when she was touring with the Stones.
He would often stop at Keys’ house and shoot photos with her, he says.
He remembers a particularly memorable photo that had been taken on the streets of the area, where people were selling cigarettes.
“That was just such an amazing photo, so it was such a beautiful day,” Lede said.
He also remembers being blown away by the way the people of the city reacted to his photos.
“They were just so much fun.
I would take pictures with them and people would say, ‘You’re so funny,’ ” Leder said.”
It was amazing that the city was so kind and just so open and so welcoming.”
Leders first encounter with photography came when he was a teen and a budding photographer, working for the local news station KTLA in Southern California.
He started at the station and was able to break into a scene on a sunny day to capture an iconic shot of a white woman holding a baby.
“My first assignment was on the front page of the paper,” he recalled.
“When I got the assignment, I was in a car on the way to the newsroom and I was like, I don’t know what this is, I didn, I’m not sure, I have no idea, I just think it’s a baby.”
He said the photo was taken at a local coffee shop, where an employee was photographing a group of people, all of whom had a baby in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
“So I walked up and said, ‘Are you sure this is the picture of a baby?’
And he said, I think it is, and I said, Oh, my God, this is amazing,” Ledes said.
In his 20 years at the radio station, Ledes was known for his ability to capture images that would make people want to photograph themselves, and he continued to make images that made people want him to photograph them.
“People just really wanted to look at it,” he told The AP.
“One time, I did a picture where I was walking down the street and I see a little girl running and I say, I can’t believe this is happening, this little girl is running away.
People were just kind of blown away, so they said, That’s amazing.”
The photographer says he was always careful to stay away from the camera, not wanting to create a scene that he or any other person might regret.
He said he tried to be professional in terms of not going to the press and not doing interviews