Category Archive: Observation

I’m putting out my work. That’s right, all of it.

Airbnb_Portraits_Ray-1-2
Ray – Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan 2013 – Inside New York Series – Leon Cato

April 16, 2014 – 11:51pm

I thought I would be able to sleep. Things are going ok. I am working, exercising, planning and all of that. I thought that because of all these things and how tired I actually feel that I would be sleeping right now – soundly.

But I can’t sleep because my mind is racing. Racing because I can’t wait to create. Racing because I can’t wait to share. Racing because I am in the middle of my most creative period since 2006 when I first started experimenting and allowing photography to swallow me whole.

Since my Create the Time post exactly one month ago, my mind has opened. I don’t know exactly what happened but I am taking my own advice and doing what is required to make this journey great. I’ve visited galleries, completed research, read periodicals, brainstormed new ideas, made connections and am finishing long overdue personal projects.

So, here it is.

I have about 5 or so projects that are at various stages of completion as I type. This has been the case for a while now – actually, to be totally honest for about a couple of years. I don’t know how this happened as I never thought myself to be one that left work unfinished. Yes I can explain it away – moved back to NY suddenly, helped family get back on their feet, scrambled to find work, got married, scrambled to make more money, etc, etc, etc.

But in all of this I have stopped doing the thing that I did and loved doing in the first bloody place. Create and share. Create and share. Rinse, repeat.

Lucky for me I have an amazingly supportive wife who keeps telling me to get my work out there. (She also told me one project at a time and no more new projects until I finish the current ones).

So alas, please find above one of many portraits I have taken over the last two years. This is the first of the series Inside New York.

In between commissions, I have a gig that helps bridge the bill paying gap. Most photographers do, they just don’t talk about it. Lucky for me, this gig is photography related and allows me to meet a lot of people.

I have taken it upon myself to start photographing these people in their homes – thus the title Inside New York. the concept is to capture folk in their most comfortable space, being themselves in their custom made surroundings. The one place where they can be who they want and do whatever they want to do – outside of the judging eyes of most folk.

There are many more of these portraits to come. And much more of my work to be released.

Any feedback is appreciated.

Love and peace,

Leon

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What is your schedule like this morning?

DifferentMorningphotoMorning Ritual – Copyright 2014 – Leon Cato Photography

Time is certainly relative. And this is rarely demonstrated more clearly than in big cities where the extremes can be VERY extreme.

Sometimes while I am toiling away into the late evening I think about what the other 7,999,999 New Yorkers are doing at that particular moment. Some are working too, while others are partying, spending time with family, crying, rejoicing and sleeping. During these pensive times for me I often marvel at the difference of each person’s path. How each person spends the time we are given.

I take photos. I run my business.

I love my wife. I am there for my friends and family.

To get to this point is a sum of my life experiences. During certain periods I have worked excessively for others, partied and travelled extensively for myself and studied  relentlessly for what I thought was a guaranteed happy future. None of these individual things lead to real happiness, but were all necessary to bring me to today.

Through all the ups and downs of running my photography and image business, I can’t see myself doing anything else. The future will involve continuing to take in all experiences with a certain bit of wisdom and allowing the right elements to contribute to growth; sharing knowledge and experience with others; and sharing time with my life partner and loved ones.

That is how my time will be spent.

Peace Always,

Leon

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Next….

Blind Institute – Guyana, S.A. –  Leon Cato Photography – Copyright 2014

I finally watched the Tim Hetherington Documentary last night. It is impossible to not think about one’s own contribution to this world after watching how Tim selflessly dedicated so much of his life photographing conflict and the human condition.

It certainly makes you rethink why you are doing what you do – and for what purpose.

You give up so much to become a full time artist. But what you really give up is what you have been told you are giving up. The social pressures of material satiation and the fabricated ‘job security’ are what you are regularly reminded of by the mere existence of life in the West.

But once success is not defined by our culture’s guidelines then you are free.

Then you keep going because you feel you are gaining so very much, so the thought of what you are giving up doesn’t really enter your mind much less make you long for a more traditional version of success.

You wake every day knowing there is a lot to do and that you have to get it done. Yes there is the survival aspect, but once that has been satisfied, then it becomes about the whole point of why you are doing this in the first place. And for this reason, you push and push and push. You have to love it. Because some days the love is all you have. But once it becomes part of you – then ‘else’ is not even a thought.

Peace,

Leon

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Create the Time

Copyright 2014 Leon Cato Photography

I believe and this keeps me going. I am frustrated with my current photography existence as I have wedged myself into that Mordoor-like Land of Shooting to Eat – while relentlessly neglecting the creation of  my own art. The promised land of  ‘only shoot what you love and we’ll pay you loads” is there in the distance. Not sure how distant – but I know its there. I suspect there are many others caught up in this exact situation as I speak. As a matter of fact I know this to be true.

But  I know I will not get to the promised land if things don’t change, which leads me to this realisation/reminder. Career development and personal work are absolutely critical. Critical. I was reminded of this over the last week as I managed to squeeze in a bit of time to watch other photographers talk, demonstrate and teach. No, I didn’t go to some cool conference, I watched this on my iPhone on the way home from shooting what I call “paid work’. Also, these videos played in the background on my PC as I edited said “paid work” photographs. So here is my problem.

1) Not investing in career development. Even accessing information via my iPhone is not enough of a part of  my routine. I may not be able to justify spending $1,000 on attending a conference but my internet and 4G data plans are paid up – so why am I not using them more? Not to mention, I am not taking advantage of my  various trade publication subscriptions, free and low cost training opportunities, museum visits, etc, etc.

2) Shooting – MY work. While doing my bi-monthly data back-up exercise today, I stumbled upon some of my older work. Man I used to shoot a lot of personal work! I was pretty ruthless about getting in portraits for my own development and plain enjoyment. Although I do get the occasional portrait for me once in a while, this has slowed down tremendously. Bad times.

So what’s happened? When I decided to go full time with photography I operated in survival mode for several years. Even though now I am actually making a living income with my camera, I am still locked in that survival mode and grabbing as much money as possible. Time for my work will come later. Also, making money and actually affording to do things like buy yourself an occasional beer or two starts to feel pretty good. Especially after feeling the pangs of the starving artist.

But the real truth is that that running around shooting like a maniac to get paid will only give you a new version of the day job you left. For this reason my goal is to fit the personal work and career development into my schedule. Its the only way. Unless this journey will have never reached its potential.

- Leon

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Snowscapes

It has been snowing quite a bit in NY. And it has been cold. So the snow just hangs around overstaying its welcome. Figured I would make the most of it and take a few snaps.

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No comment….

 

Copyright 2014 Leon Cato Photography

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Oh So Grand…

Another shot from the Leon Cato Photography Vault. Funny, I was not going to release this shot – but made a few tweaks and kind of fell in love with it. This was taken during a trip to Grand Central to scout it out as a possible wedding venue. And in the end, yes, I married my beautiful wife at Grand Central Station.

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Portrait of a Hood

Not ‘Hood’ in that overused bastardised sense. Just a neighbourhood – Fort Hamilton, BK

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2013 Leon Cato Photography

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Release

more of my work…

taken with iPhone

Copyright 2013 – Leon Cato Photography

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Emergence

Union Square – NYC

Copyright 2013 – Leon Cato Photography

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