For those who aren’t aware, Exposure Leeds Founding Director, Jon Eland, took part in the organisation’s first international photography exchange last year – to Leeds’ partner city in the USA – Louisville. Here he talks a little about why he’s heading back again this year…
In September 2010 a journey started. In September last year the journey turned into a love affair. This September I’m hoping to turn that into a lifelong relationship.
At a pop-up exhibition – itself fairly representative of my approach to evangelising about photography, showing some of the better images shared of Leeds for free re-use through the online photography community, Flickr.com – I met Alex, a representative of Leeds City Council’s ‘International Relations’ team – who told me of a photographer from this city in Kentucky I knew very little about.
This photographer wanted to come to Leeds because, I was told, we were twinned cities – and he liked visiting his city’s twins. Well, I like to share and collaborate – so I said yes.
I also asked of the prospect of visiting our sister city, Louisville.
When this photographer, Michael Brohm, visited Leeds we had a huge learning curve – we’d never organised to host a photographer before – and we ensured he got a great Leeds welcome – he certainly wasn’t short of a social life in the week or so he was in the city. But he showed us a wonderful thing – the warmth of a Kentuckian and the excitement of taking images from one part of the world and using those to tell a story in another, when he brought his photos and anecdotes from Perm, Russia to his exhibition in Project Space Leeds.
A few months later I myself got to experience this – I travelled across the Atlantic and landed (after a bounce in Philly) and was at Standiford Field, the city’s International Airport. A whirlwind ensued – I met so many people (so many, in fact that, by the last day I’d run out of the 200 pin badges I had taken as ‘payment’ for the portraits I planned to take).
I won’t share all the details – as the people I plan to meet on my return trip will want to hear those stories first hand – but I have to be clear; I fell in love. With genuinely warm, welcoming and supportive people. I got a free pass, without question, to the cities leading innovation conference (Idea Festival), welcomed to a photo group’s barbecue (PhotoForum), shown behind the scenes at the Royal Armouries, USA and given permission to take the image of so many people.
In fact, when I was planning where to spend my main holiday this year, there was no doubt. I would take my vacation time in Louisville.
So – with the launch of LVLLDS, a new initiative to create photographic links, sharing and collaboration between the two cities – I thought it was best to bring the first project to the city and tell them about how I think we can all work together, and learn more about one another.
I will be in the city on September 16-25 and will be looking to meet as many people as possible looking at how we can bring the cities closer together through photography.
If you’re interested in meeting me while I’m there (or back in Leeds) or in finding out more then get in touch!
Contact: 0113 815 0517 / 502 403 2517 / firstname.lastname@example.org / @lvllds
What am I doing?
Image © Michael Brohm 2011.