A Lovely Sensitivity

Lead deBok - A Lovely Sensitivity

Two and a half years ago, Leah den Bok was about to take an early retirement from photography. She was only twelve and a half years old. “I don’t think my pictures are any good!”, she dejectedly exclaimed to her dad one day. Joel Sartore, the world famous National Geographic photographer, who was recently made a fellow of the National Geographic Society, thought otherwise. Hired, by Leah’s parents—both of whom are artists—to look at her work, via Skype, he immediately saw her potential. A father of a daughter himself, he had the wisdom to see that what she needed, then, more than anything else, was encouragement. Since then, he has, through a delicate blend of enthusiastic praise and blunt criticism—“You can do better than that, Leah!”–been helping Leah to develop her potential. But even he must be surprised by the rapid progress that she has made. Following one coaching session with Leah, he, excitedly, sent her dad the following email:

“…even at 14, her work has soul, and plenty of it. That’s something that cannot be taught. You either have it or you don’t and she certainly does. If she sticks with it, I think she’s well on her way to becoming not just a good photographer, but a great photographer. And I’m not kidding. Please tell her.

—Best, JS”

Lead deBok - A Lovely Sensitivity

Leah’s work has also attracted the attention of Lana Slezic, a photojournalist and filmographer who freelances for The Globe and Mail, the New York Times, Macleans and TIME. Says Lana, “…[Leah’s work] has a sensitivity which is lovely….” The O’Born Contemporary Gallery in Toronto represents such respected, internationally known photographers as Rafael Goldchain, Dominic Nahr, and Jill Greenberg. Gallery director, Natalie MacNamar, says of Leah, “Surely she will make a name for herself as an artist and photographer. She has the skill and if she endeavours to develop a conceptual practice, she will prove to be a tour de force.”

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As well as Sartore, Leah counts as her influences the Italian painter Caravaggio (1571¾1610) and the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606¾1669). Her most recent work, like their paintings, is characterized by the technique called chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro is the use of stark and dramatic contrasts between light and dark. Leah has also taken to heart the advice, given by the renowned art historian Kenneth Clark in his book What is a Masterpiece? that masterpieces, at least generally speaking, contain, what he calls “the human element.” As such, most of Leah’s recent work is of people. Like Rembrandt, with whom she shares a Christian faith, she tries to capture the dignity that they possess, intrinsically, as persons made in the image of God. “The beauty of people comes through,” she says, “if you capture them right.”

Lead deBok - A Lovely Sensitivity

Now fifteen, Leah’s photographic career is taking off. She is currently holding her second solo exhibition at the Collingwood Public Library in Collingwood, Ontario. The show is called ‘Chiaroscuro: Light and Dark Images’, and runs until the end of August. Following this she will be having another exhibition at the L.E. Shore Library Gallery in Thornbury, Ontario, in March, 2016, as well as showing some pictures at the Mad and Noisy Gallery in Creemore, Ontario. She is also in demand as a wedding photographer, having just finished her second wedding shoot. When Leah graduates from Jean Vanier Catholic High School, in Collingwood, Ontario, she plans to study photography at Ryerson University in Toronto. To view more of Leah’s photography, visit her website at: ldenBokphotography.com.



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One Comment

  1. I think your work is wonderful and would love to see it in person….do sell any f it? Heard you on CBC this am and I am intrigues there is such talent jus up the road We are Owen Sound residents…keep at it we need a female Karsh Edna