Joanne Leah Self Portrait
Self Portrait by Joanne Leah

Brooklyn based photographer, Joanne Leah tells the story of how she became a photographer, tripping on acid at church and what her daily studio life looks like.

My name is Joanne Leah and I am a photographer and designer from Brooklyn, New York. I was born in Germany, adopted at birth and raised in Southwest Virginia. I studied fine art and design at VCU School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia. I started shooting polaroids of my girlfriends in the early 90s. In high school, my dad let me borrow his 1978 Asahi Pentax 35mm camera. This was my introduction to photography. Later, in college, I learned how to process black and white film and make darkroom prints. In 2008, I purchased a Canon Digital Rebel XTi, my first digital camera. I started taking self portraits. After I moved to Brooklyn, I started shooting friends and friends of friends.

Joanne Leah Acid Mass Seed
Acid Mass, Seed by Joanne Leah

Joanne Leah Acid Mass Pink
Acid Mass, Pink by Joanne Leah

My studio is located in the Bushwick neighbourhood of Brooklyn, New York. I shoot people from different backgrounds, genders, body types and ethnicities. My favourite place to find people is through Craigslist.

A typical day is somewhat repetitive for me. I wake up, hang out with my partner and my dog while I drink coffee and read the New York Times. Go to my studio and start working, researching and shooting. I am also a designer and sometimes work until very late at night. I like to read before I fall asleep.

Lately I’ve been focusing on my own personal history and childhood memories. I am investigating how childhood perception affects adulthood. But I always find artists such as Andrew Wyeth, Max Ernst, and Charles Burns very relevant. I am also fascinated with psychology, religion, fetishes and cults. I recently read Hannah Arendt’s book, The Human Condition.

Joanne Leah Acid Mass Aquamarine
Acid Mass, Aquamarine by Joanne Leah

Joanne Leah Acid Mass Banana
Acid Mass, Banana by Joanne Leah

Joanne Leah Acid Mass Grass
Acid Mass, Grass by Joanne Leah

I am working on a photographic series called Acid Mass. I was raised Catholic, and when I was in high school, I would take a lot of LSD. My mother would make me go to Sunday mass while I was still tripping from the night before. This series is based on that experience. I plan to present Acid Mass as a site-specific photographic installation.

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