It takes work for an artist to find inspiration for their work. Where to look for it? You can't learn this from books or at university. So all creative people draw inspiration directly from life.
We would like to tell you about a photographer whose inspiration comes from compassion and humanity. About a simple girl from Canada, who at a young age was able to win the hearts of many connoisseurs of photography.
This is a story about Leah Denbok. She started when she was just 12 and took her first photos with a used Canon camera.
At the age of 15, young Leah has already received high marks for her work. It is worth noting that she received praise from famous photographers and not only. She was particularly impressed by Joel Sartore, whose photos are constantly published in National Geographic. He said that Leah was on the right path and she could soon become not only a good photographer but a really great artist. She later attended a school of online photography, where she taught Sartore. She said that she has a wide range of themes for her work, but she likes to take pictures of people. Natalie McNamara of the Toronto Contemporary Gallery said that Leah should only develop a conceptual practice, and then she will prove to be a tour de force.
Leah Denbok was famous for documenting the street life of homeless people in Canada. It is worth noting that in many ways, the girl's worldview was influenced by the story of the mother of the girl named Sarah Denbock. She was a homeless child from Calcutta, India. And one day, she was lucky when she was rescued by a policeman and taken to an orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity, a congregation named after Mother Teresa. She was adopted by a couple from Canada, with whom she moved to Ontario.
Young Sarah Denbock, Leah Denbok’s mother
Street life and the homeless as leitmotifs of creativity
At first, Denbok only photographed people to add portrait pictures to her portfolio. But then she decided to turn it into a project when she realized the scale of the problem. One of the main goals of the creator was to humanize a nation without a home.
At 17, Leah Denbok released her first photographic book, Nowhere to Call Home — Photographs and Stories of the Homeless. Income from sales was sent to a houseless shelter in Barry, Ontario.
In her early years, she was inspired by the work of the author of the photo Lee Jeffries, who took photographs of the houseless like her. In his work, she noted that he captured the story of these people through their facial expressions, eyes, and gestures, and she was very passionate about it.
On the cover of her book, we can see a picture of a young girl named Lucy. Leah became very fond of her story, as the girl kept a diary, which said that she wanted to become a writer, but, unfortunately, at the age of 14 connected her life with drugs. The young photographer was very touched by the fact that Lucy is a girl of her age and that she could study journalism rather than be in such a sad situation.
Photographer Leah Denbok (L) and her portrait of Lucy (R), a woman living on the streets in Toronto
The girl's father, Tim, traveled to North America with his daughter, helping her photograph houseless people across the continent. He was the one who suggested to his talented daughter that she take pictures of the houseless, although at first, she was alarmed by stereotypes about people who live on the street. After her trip to Toronto, she completely changed her attitude toward the street people and realized that she wanted to continue her work with them. After all, she saw they are not at all what is said about them. They are primarily positive, kind people who welcome any help.
Leah Denbok at work
The girl and her father worked together so that while she took pictures, her father communicated with the man, learning about his past and, most often, sad stories from their lives. And because many of the interviewees were begging, they offered each of them $10 to help.
A year after the release of his first book, the photographer is preparing the world for the release of his second. And then the third and fourth books will be published, in which Denbok tries to tell the stories of people who are ignored or forgotten by society.
Leah's story shows that you can find inspiration even when you don't expect it. So, if you are a beginner photographer, don't dismiss subjects without trying. This may be how you find your path and purpose as an artist.