“I was brought up in Leicester. When I say “in” Leicester, I mean in the middle, in the city centre. Leicester was, and is, a real mixture of cultures. It’s the second most cosmopolitan city in the UK with big Asian, Afro-Caribbean and Irish families. My family had two pubs called The Princess Charlotte and The Spread Eagle. They both were located in between a train station and the football ground so match days were always lively, it was the late seventies in the UK and football hooliganism was extreme.
“School was never a top priority as I was busy playing football and discovering the streets of the inner city. Luckily I’d been scouted by a football coach Jim Riley who had also discovered Gary Lineker and Peter Shilton so I had confidence as a gifted footballer.
“I lived with my parents, Katherine and Stuart and my older brother Shaun. I was always out discovering the inner city, painting doors, tagging and connecting with the local community (being a little toe-rag). It was the 80’s and the early days of hiphop and graffiti. The inner city was rife with life and I became influenced by all of it. My 3 legged Jack Russell was my partner in crime through my adventures, he had his photo taken by a girl at Leicester Uni which won an award for black and white street photography. That fascinated me; it ignited my interest in imagery. If I wasn’t training or out in the city, I would be at home watching old black and white movies or playing pool with the colourful characters in our pub.
“Our family moved from Leicester to Majorca in 1997 and became a part of the hospitality trade in Spain and I helped them estabilish a bar/restaurant called Walshies in Cala d’or. After that the plan was to take up a job as a football coach in the States, but before I left I had a near fatal motorbike accident: I was hit by a car and left for dead. Four days later I woke up in intensive care. I had a fractured skull, no teeth, two broken knees and cruciate ligament, and a ruined football career. It was 2000 and I was twenty three.
“I was in and out of hospital for the next four years. The longest period I spent lying in bed was three and a half months. You can get to know a lot about yourself whilst confined to a bed from the deepest part of your mind to the most amazing inner strength when needed. In total I had 17 operations over 4 year period. It changed me and made me re-evaluate my life. Having brought me much closer to my family I then decided that I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of me living my dreams.
“The seasonality of work here means that in the winter times I could travel, and I have been all over the world. I started to get really interested in landscapes and street photography: I always feel drawn to cities and urban environments. I feel comfortable there. As I began to experiment with a camera I realised that I felt as if I was rediscovering myself and be able to express myself through the medium of photography.
“I took myself off to do a short course in how to use a camera. I was so eager to learn that I literally dragged my teacher out of the classroom onto the street to start shooting. Then I just started to shoot and shoot and shoot images. I did landscape and street photography then moved on to fashion. I made the transition from hobby photographer to professional photographer when I spent some time in London, shooting fashion. I met some incredible people from top fashion designers, models and make up artists who I still work with today: it was a great way to make contacts. I’ve been going through what I think you’d call an intense apprenticeship, working with some of the best people in the industry. Recently having shot for fashion designer Joey Bevan and his latest bespoke Royal Coronation Collection. I’ve had images published in Vogue Italia online, Face On magazine, Urban Coco, En-Vi, Trend Prive Magazine, etc… all in the space of eighteen months.
“I feel my strength is to shoot fashion on location here on the island, as we do live in paradise. It all looks natural, soulful and so beautiful. To create the right fashion image requires a keen eye for detail being able to pull a team together that not only shares your vision and creativity but also loves what they do.
“Street photography is about catching an individual moment frozen in time. My best images are always caught as an observer of the public in their natural habitat. Last year I submitted a volume of work to a Gallery in New York which was exhibited over the summer of 2013. It was brilliant. It was even projected onto a skyscraper for an evening whilst on show in the gallery! I had the great fortune of renting a bedroom in a SoHo Loft/Art Gallery for my stay in New York which enabled me to further my contacts with local artists, art dealers and creatives and a hope of a solo exhibition there.
“Despite the hard times that life throws at us, at the same time it is teaching us some of the most important lessons. The realisation of this helps us move forward in life and achieve our dreams“.
Photographer Leighton Parry was speaking to Vicki McLeod
Look out for a forthcoming exhibition of street photography to be held in Palma this summer. You can see more of Leighton’s work at: www.leightonparry.com You can read more articles about people at http://www.mallorcastories.com