Paul O’Leary | Leicester, UK

Short bio:
As a documentary photographer I attempt to record the time in which we live, to record the lives of others and in an indirect way chart my own time on this planet. I’ve exhibited throughout Europe but more recently my work was chosen for the UK’s Cultural Olympiad celebrations, culminating in a National Screening Programme with the BBC, the International Festival of Photography, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Les Boutographies, Montpellier, France and The New York Photo Festival.

Why do you  photograph on film?
My work is mostly shot using 5×4 inch sheet film. It is a process which requires time and allows the subject to drift off into his or her own thoughts during the shoot. People have never before been so aware of how they want to be recorded. Film allows me, the photographer, to take control of the editing process by only taking one shot of each person. The unknown result allows the subject to drop the masks of social representation and replace it with a degree of freedom and chance.

What is your work about?
The photographs on display are taken from a series of 700 images shot in various locations throughout Leicester, the second largest multicultural city in the UK. The city and the wealth of characters that live there are often ignored. Shot against a white backdrop, eliminating any reference to the sitter’s environment. The uniformed and systematic approach of these portraits invites us to compare and contrast the subjects, to see if any distinctive eccentricities surface.