Self Portrait, Amari Leath
Amari Leath is an emerging photographer living in Jacksonville, FL. Leath often captures the city's people and architecture in his favorite color scheme of black and white but, his body of work features a versatile palette of colors and techniques. Among his artwork are images enhanced with vibrant, contrasting colors and complimenting additions. Since discovering his love for photography, Leath has immersed himself in the art community and found his own sense of style. Vigorous self study and unrelenting practice are credited as his building blocks to becoming a talented photographer. Leath feels compelled to change other young people's lives through education and mentoring which is one of Leath's biggest motivation to grow in his photography career.
Amari Leath is one of the most motivated, young artists that I have ever met. In a rather short period of time he has shown everyone he meets that photography is what he wants his life's work to reflect. Leath went from inquiring about how he can show his work to immediately taking part in Jacksonville's art community. I literally see him everywhere now! Being a fairly new photographer has not deterred him from showing his work or from being engaging. His willingness to ask for help and to continuously find materials and artists to study excites me because it is a clear indication of his objective. He wants to learn, he wants to grow, and he wants to be the best photographer he can be!
What inspired you to pursue photography? When did you start and how?
Last summer, I had a cheap point and shoot camera and I put it into manual mode, that moment is what inspired me to learn more about photography. I noticed I could control the look of an image which peaked my interests. In an effort to learn more about photography, I started watching YouTube videos about photography and purchased my first "real" camera which was a Canon T6. Since that summer, I have been honing my skills, photographing all throughout Jacksonville, and participating in art events .
What are your favorite subjects to photograph? Why?
My favorite subjects to photograph are people in the streets. I like practicing street photography because you can show people how you truly view your environment. Your perception and way of shooting can show the streets where you live as rough and gritty, but, another photographer can shoot the same location and present it as beautiful, sunny, and perfect.
What is your ultimate career goal?
My ultimate career goal is to start my own after-school photography program. I would like to teach youth who may be interested in photography how to use a camera and how to apply for grants and scholarships. I would also like for the program to have a fully functional photo studio that can be used to practice their skills. Having a place to share your goals and hobbies with someone who shares the same passions can really make a difference in somebody’s life.
How does living in Jacksonville influence your photography?
Living in Jacksonville influences my photography by forcing me to look everywhere for something to shoot. Jacksonville is not like New York or L.A, there are no subways or crowded intersections, so you have to search to find something more interesting to photograph. Since I've started practicing photography, I've been on a constant hunt for places with strong composition. I have walked all over downtown Jacksonville from the sky train to the roofs of parking garages, and even the beach in search of the perfect spots. Sometimes you find them... sometimes you don’t.
As an emerging artist, what resources have helped you grow and learn how to navigate the “art world”?
The fantastic people of the art community that I have met and befriended have all really helped me navigate the “art world”. I have been given tons of advice and presented with many opportunities. I could have never done it by myself!
How do you educate yourself to take better images?
My process of nurturing my skills involves collecting tons of photography books. I collect a variety of books, read them, and study them from instructional books to photo essays. I’ll buy a giant book with photographs from multiple artists and I choose a photographer who really speaks to me. After I find the right photographer, I begin to research them, study their work, and absorb everything about that artist. Once I have have completed my studies of one artist, I choose another artist and repeat the process. Often when I’m out taking photos, I try to see through their eyes and put what I have learned into practice... How would Eli Reed shoot this scene? How would Gordon Parks edit this photo? How would Alex Webb go about this?
Photographers view and value colors in a different way so imagine you were a new addition to a crayon box, what color would you be and why?
If I were a crayon, I would be a magical, monotone crayon that only writes in black and white. I love monotone because it takes all the colors out and your subject is the main focus. Though the images are black and white there is essentially many different colors. Highlights, contrast, and shadows all add a different feeling to a photograph and that feeling can change dramatically if you add or subtract any one of them from the equation. For example, If you change the color of the ocean in a beach photograph from blue to red, it can go from being perceived as a calm day at the beach to a shark attack all because of slight changes you have made.