Rendering The Spirit: Interview with Ian Leake

Venus Rising - Ian Leake
Venus Rising – Ian Leake

Could you tell me your name?

Ian Leake

Where are you from?

Nowadays I live in Switzerland, but I am originally from England.

How did you get into photography as an art medium (as opposed to casual or professional use)?

I discovered Charlie Waite’s landscapes. These showed me that photography could be a personal statement as much as a documentary record. Charlie opened my eyes and changed my life.

Which alternative processes do you practice?

Platinum/palladium printing. I occasionally dabble with other alt processes, but not for serious work.

What attracted you to alternative processes in general?

As an artist I feel it is important to be involved throughout the creative process. I want what I make to be my creation. You can only truly achieve this when working by hand.

What drew you to the specific media you practice?

I made my first platinum/palladium print in 2005: a close-up of some flowers on a slate embankment. I still have it somewhere. I had seen pictures of platinum/palladium prints online, but the first one I saw in the real-world was that first print I made. It was an epiphany, and I very quickly realised that there was nothing else I wanted to make. Platinum/palladium allows me a depth of emotional engagement that I don’t have with traditional silver gelatin or digital machine-made prints. This emotional engagement is really important. I want what I feel in my studio when working with the model to be conveyed in my finished work. Platinum/palladium allows this.

How does the choice of media influence your choice of subject matter (or vice versa)?

I find platinum/palladium to be the perfect medium for nudes. It renders soft, graceful and beautiful images that are far more subtle than the shouty, high contrast stuff we are routinely bombarded with.

In today’s mobile, electronic world of instant communication and virtual sharing of images, how important is it to you to create hand-made images?

I can’t really see the point in churning out machine-made images. Anyone can do this.

Is your choice to practice alternative, hand-made photography a reaction to, a complement to, or not influenced by the world of digital media?

I was making platinum/palladium before the digital revolution really took off. I use digital cameras, of course, but not for serious work. The workflow is so different and feels so shallow to me.

Do you incorporate digital media into your alternative process work?

In general, I would say no. I do use digital negatives from time to time, but this isn’t a significant part of my creative life.

What role do you see for hand-made/alternative process work in the art world of today? Where do you see yourself in that world?

Most photography collectors want distinctive, exclusive and personal artwork. Small limited editions of hand-made prints made using the finest of materials by a master of the creative process all contribute to this. And of course the enormous lifespan of platinum/palladium prints ensures that these photographs will pass the test of time. A well made platinum/palladium print will last as long as the paper it is printed upon. Many collectors like the fact that their investments will be there to be enjoyed by their grandchildren’s grandchildren.

Ian Leake’s work can also be found at

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