Manchester-based photographer Lee Jeffries started out by photographing sporting events. After a chance meeting on the streets of London with a homeless girl, Jeffries reconsidered his artistic approach. Having initially stolen a photograph of the young homeless girl huddled in a sleeping bag, he became aware that the girl had seen him taking a picture. His initial reaction had been to leave, however he reconsidered and took the time to discuss her situation with her.
Based on this meeting, his perception about the homeless completely changed and they become the subject of his art. For the past few years he’s traveled around the world, particularly Europe and the US, photographing people he encounters on the streets. Jeffries takes the time to get to know each of the subjects before asking their permission to take their portrait. The gritty portraits suggest the individuals emotion, taking a hard unflinching look at their personal condition. His photographs portray his convictions and his compassion to the world.
Jeffries was just announced as the 2011 winner of Future Publishings – Digital Camera Magazine’s Photographer of the Year, of which Jeffries was selected from tens of thousands of entries. The judges said “Lee’s remarkable image is simultaneously moving and troubling. By peeling away the superficial veneer of modern British society, it forces the viewer to evaluate their own position in the social hierarchy of the age and confront some uncomfortable truths.”
In an interview with Digital Camera Magazine on his win, Lee commented: “I’m incredibly honoured and surprised as the kind of shots I take don’t usually win competitions. I took this shot last November – I was walking around Manchester when I noticed something about this guy’s eyes. There was something wrong with them, obviously, but there was a quality about them too… I try to get an almost religious feel to my shots and I think it comes through in this image, with the way the light falls on his face. Anyway, winning this prize is a huge honour.”
You can view the full competition line-up of winning and shortlisted images here. To view more of Lee Jeffries work, check out his Flickr page