Levon Biss is a British photographer who started shooting with his father’s camera as a teen and went professional at 22. Levon has now created Microsculpture, a unique photographic study of insects. In this, each insect portrait takes three weeks to create and allows us to see the creature in mind-blowing magnification.
“Even when I began, I shot a lot of still life images of small sets of objects from around the house, keenly interested in lighting my subjects using desk lamps. I didn’t just photograph but always felt the need to compose images. In my early career, I photographed a lot of portraiture and sport when I controlled and lit the imagery well. “In my early 20s, I was lucky to become a junior photographer at a photo agency. My boss, the wonderful Lee Farrant, gave me full freedom and I worked as hard as I could. By 25, I was shooting international advertising campaigns and, in my late 30s, I decided that I needed to find a new type of photography to provide me with new stimulation. “One day my son brought in a beetle that we observed under his microscope; it was beautiful. So, I decided to photograph it for him a present and it took me six months to work out how to do it properly. That’s how I built my first micro-photography system and created the photograph. This triggered my obsession with the microscopic world and I haven’t stopped photographing tiny subjects since, occasionally photographing humans too.”
Photography an art form
“Over the last few decades, photography has been accepted as a genuine art form, with the medium being used in creative ways and with digital photography bringing new opportunity. My own work crossed several categories, from fine art to science to natural history as in the case of my latest project about amber inclusions. Here, I photograph insects preserved in hardened tree sap, working with samples from Northern Europe that are about 45-50 million years old. The most important thing is that the images are just beautiful.”
Capturing nature’s beauty
“Nature is an obvious choice of subject. Micro-photography enables us to look at what is normally invisible to the naked eye, educating us to appreciate the intricacy and delicate balance of our ecosystem. It makes the invisible visible.”
Message for children
“The way to take better pictures is just to take more pictures, the more you shoot the more experience you get. Have a clear idea of the picture you want to produce and plan to make it happen. Most importantly, enjoy taking pictures.”
In 2016, he was honoured with a Fellowship to the Royal Photographic Society. He released his first book One Love documenting the culture of soccer across 28 countries. He also produced a touring exhibition, displayed in 17 countries over 2 years. His work has appeared on the covers TIME, The New York Times, GQ and Sports Illustrated.
(This 10th edition of the TEDxGateway sees over 20+ speakers from different walks of life sharing unique ideas that make them an inspiration the world over. Over 5500 attendees are slated to attend this feast of ideas and inspiration on December 2 at DOME @ NSCI Mumbai.)
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