BEFORE AND AFTER
Through th e NCTJ Photojournalism course, his tw o years with THETIME S and day-to-day work on th e st reets , Leon has list ened to many expert tips , but th ere’s one he alw ays practises himself
What is the best piece of advice you’d pass on to someone starting out?
For getting really interesting pictures, I would say the most important part of any job is the bit before it starts and the bit after it finishes – and this is something that I try to act on all the time. Say it’s somebody about to make a speech: as they walk into the room all they’re thinking about is: ‘How is this going to go down?’ They’re not concentrating on how they’re looking, so as they approach the podium you might get a wave, or a wink, or a scratch of the nose, then as soon as they start they are in their comfort zone because they start talking, doing their power gestures and they have a nice script in front of them, they know where they are. Then as soon as it finishes and the applause begins, they’re off-guard again and you might get some odd expression. I guarantee that at both of those two points, whether it’s Labour Party conferences, Tory conferences, big announcements, anything where somebody is in the spotlight, the best picture and the one that will inevitably be used the next day will be from outside the part you were supposed to be looking at.