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Tyrone Lebon

The street photographer capturing London with his uniquely candid vision

To help us select the 50 finalists in the Nokia Lumia 925 Lowlight Photography Competition, we have enlisted the help of London-born photographer and filmmaker Tyrone Lebon, who is something of a magician when it comes to blending natural light into the atmosphere of his images. Together with Talenthouse, Nokia have launched a hunt to discover aspiring photographers with a knack for capturing unique urban or street-style inspired shots in low light conditions. Competition deadline July 24th. Enter here.

Strongly influenced by his own home city, Tyrone began filming documentaries at an early age (his first one was aired on MTV when he was only 18) and he has since gone on to shoot editorials and campaigns for brands like Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Supreme and Nike. Through his hazy, evocative portraits, Tyrone encapsulates the very essence of London – an ability he first demonstrated with his work for Mount Kimbie, creating the sun-stained, candid artwork for their debut album Crooks & Lovers as well as directing the band’s first three videos. Whether shooting in dim light or bright sunshine, Tyrone’s work captures glimpses of daydreams, young love and late-night bus journeys home, shedding light on the fleeting, romantic moments in a busy big-city life.

Dazed & Confused: When and how did you first get into photography?
Tyrone Lebon: I started taking photos as a young teenager, taking photos of friends and spending a lot of time in the dark room printing and developing my own black and white. 

D&C: How has London influenced your work?
Tyrone Lebon: The people have influenced me most. Being British, and especially being a Londoner, to me is about multiculturalism and being part of the mix of cultures that have all found a place in the UK. I think this is what excites me the most. Seeing the ways different cultures mix and mutate and develop into something new in this city.

D&C: What has been your favourite project so far? 
Tyrone Lebon: I've enjoyed self publishing my own book 'Nothing Lasts Forever.' I really enjoyed the whole process, and am just about to release a new book which I've made with the guys from Baron magazine.

But I also like jumping around, so I equally enjoy making documentaries. Then after that I'm sick of being in my own bubble or editing film so I'm happy to do a photo commission. Then I can jump to something else. I like to jump around between different types of project; that's when I'm happiest.

D&C: How different do you think your personal photography is from your commercial or fashion work? 
Tyrone Lebon: I will always approach each commission as if there are no boundaries and I can make images I would be excited by. If I can't see anything interesting about a project I wouldn't get involved. But the reality of commissioned work is often there are many requirements and opinions that need to be satisfied, and so it becomes something else. I think people who say there is no difference are talking rubbish. There are always boundaries to commissioned projects that must be respected but I don't think that's a bad thing, those boundaries can be exciting to work within as there's something to push against. Total freedom all the time is boring. 

D&C: What cameras do you prefer shooting with?
Tyrone Lebon: I'm a camera geek and part of my process is to use a range of cameras from a large format 10x8 plate camera to a grainy half frame. They each have a different feel, and because they each also have a different process, they each help make a different type of image. So the more, the better.

D&C: A lot of your images, like the album artwork you shot for Mount Kimbie, look drenched in beautiful, warm sunlight. When and why did you start using light in this way? What inspired it? 
Tyrone Lebon: The Mount Kimbie artwork was shot on a sunny day in Peckham. They had recorded their album in that area and I lived in Brixton so it made sense that the images were shot around there. I just wandered the streets for a few hours. The orange and reddish colours are from a trick that involves exposing the film to daylight. These 'light leaks' are something I used to love when they happened by chance and slowly I've worked out how I can do them on purpose.

D&C: A lot of your work seems to be shot out and about in London, which we all know can be a pretty grey and gloomy weather-wise. Do you have any techniques you use to add colour and life to your images when the conditions get particularly uninspiring?
Tyrone Lebon: Yep. The lightleaks are always good. So's hard flash. But I think the light from a gloomy dull day is also interesting to shoot in anyway, so I'm never really that bothered by the weather.

D&C: What was your motivation for setting up your photography organisation DoBeDo?
Tyrone Lebon: The official shpeel is: DoBeDo is an organisation of photographers and filmmakers. This website promotes the news, events and work of its select group of contributors – and an online community for those with an interest in photography. DoBeDo also facilitates exhibitions, publishes books, and hosts ‘Reely and Truly’ short film screenings.

I love photography and am interested in the photographers too, so DoBeDo is a way to stay in touch and collaborate. This year we’re making some more books, Reely and Truly (our film night) is next on in July, and we've just made Tshirt #009 of our T subscription with Dave Sims. I've got plans for it to grow so much more but there's only so much time in the day! But the team is growing so hopefully the end of this year and into next we will develop it a lot further.

D&C: What’s next for you?
Tyrone Lebon: That book with Baron I mentioned. And a series of documentaries I've been working on for a while.

Find out more about how to enter Dazed & Confused and Nokia Lumia 925 Lowlight Photography Competition hereWith its enhanced software, Carl Zeiss lens and effective ISO settings that shoots up to 3200, the finalists will be shooting with a Nokia Lumia 925 that is particularly effective in low light conditions.