Francisco Zuzuarregui interviews photographer Eleanor Leonne B.

July 11, 2011
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In this Interview Francisco Zuzuarregui interviews young British artist Eleanor Leonne B.. Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 15 year old photographer and artist who has won first place in competitions with National Geographic,The Woodland Trust, The World Photography Organisation, Winston's Wish, Papworth Trust, Mencap, Big Issue, Wrexham science ,UK Butterflies, Fennel and Fern and and Nature's Best Photography.She has had her photographs published in exhibitions and magazines across the world. She was the Youngest person to have her work included in the New Mill’s Art lounge Exhibition and Charnwood art’s “Vision 09 Exhibition”. She was also the only person from the United Kingdom to have her work included in the National Geographic and Airbus run photographic tour for the “See The Bigger Picture” Biodiversity Exhibitions, for the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity 2010.

Hello Eleanor I am here to ask You some questions regarding your life
and your work.

When did you first start doing photography?
I started to take photos when I was 12 for a competition to create a journal on the wildlife in my garden. I used a point and shoot camera which belonged to my Mum.
I unfortunately lost the contest but I have always loved to study the natural world and being able to capture the lives of animals interested me a lot.
Even though I limit myself to no genre at the heart of myself I’m a wildlife photographer.
There is no substitute for the great outdoors
Is photography your only artistic talent?
I don’t see myself as talented.
I think the only way I can become successful is through hard work and determination.
If I have learnt anything the most important thing I have ever read was that you must constantly doubt yourself and never ever rest on your laurels. The day I think I am good at photography (or any other artistic form) is the day I will never win again.It may sound irrational or over dramatic but its what I live by and I am much happier doubting my abilities than appearing a bighead.
I draw, paint , sing and write poetry . I am a lot more private about my other passions.
I love to express myself but I hate to be knocked down.
What is your favorite art piece?
I can try and narrow it down to two.
The one which has won me the most: Get Back Better On.
The one exhibited the most: Bug Eyes.
Do you take into account the 7 elements and principles of design in
any of your art works?
Of course, I wouldn’t be anywhere without them.
Composition, light and texture are so important. I am always trying to find a balance between all the necessary components to create a piece that just fits together as something beautiful or strange.
What was your first photograph?
Of a grey squirrel, taken with a point and shoot Camera, not my best of course I just thought it would be fun to borrow my Mum’s camera and see how I could use it as I’ve always loved technology. Ever since about 6 I’ve loved to break apart old TVs, Radios, PCs and circuit boards. I’ve been working on a project about recycling and reuse of “junk” materials . I am fascinated by what people feel free to waste. It amazes me how hard it is for some people to see beauty in the unorthodox. Another reason I love photography is it allows me to show my point of view to a wider audience.
Who or what inspires you to do art work?
Everything, even audio and moving image work.
I love fashion, design, technology,nature and textures and forms.
Sometimes I tend to clash between different themes so it helps if I can organise some of my work to a particular subject. I have phases every month or so.
I always right down my ideas if I can’t carry out what I would like to achieve due to availability of materials, lack of money, time etc.
Is it hard for you to find inspiration?
No, its harder for me to tone it down and stop taking photos in awkward situations.
I was once told off by a paramedic for taking pictures in an ambulance.
My mum had pleurisy and pneumonia and I did a portfolio on her illness and on taking care of my home including her as the main subject.
Do you have any idols that are photographers?
Many, I could make a very long list. I think for incredible, breathtaking work you have to look at the iconic photos from National Geographic. If I had to make a short list of Photographers whose work I adore I would have to say: Reza Deghati, Chris Johns, Joel Sartore, Kim Taylor and John Rankin. Its so hard to choose though as I love everything from Environmental photography to Fashion and fine art photography.
Do you take pictures everyday?
Most days , but what is the point of exhausting myself.
I practise enough but I know unless I have a good amount of inspiration I'll produce tired work. I take on average of 20 a day but if I have a good subject I can take a few thousand within a few hours. Most of the time I use a Panasonic DMC-FZ38.
Can you cope with criticism, both destructive and constructive criticism?
If people are criticising me normally its only to shoot me down.
People are busy and haven't got time to waste on someone if their work doesn't fit into the persona of a project, magazine , exhibition or contest. I don’t like losing so I always try to prove myself in another way. The first time I had my poetry published was because the editor didn’t like my visual art but loved some of my poems. I always try to be adaptive and evolve to what people want.
Do your parents support your art career? Do they wish you were
pursuing another career or hobby?
They like I have found something I enjoy doing and that it brings me happiness.
I’ve made it clear unless my work can break into some sort of art-scene I am unlikely to make much money despite how many awards I win. There are a lot of things I don’t understand and I need to learn a lot more.I like to use my family as a subject in some of my work but they themselves don’t use cameras very often. If something needs documenting, researching or recording I normally take the images. I take a camera or two everywhere I go.

What is photography for you at this point; When you hear photography,
what correspondence does it have towards you? Do You think job, hobby
or anything else? When I hear the word photography it makes think of a passion.
Like when I hear drama, poet, artist, writer, musician. I would hate for me to ever think of it as a chore or labour. I am very happy to wake up at 3am and start organising what I am going to apply for next. I am naturally obsessive so it comes as a part of being passionate. I work at my best when I am alone being solidly focused on the task in hand but I am able to work with everyone as long as the atmosphere is happy, relaxed, unpretentious and that everybody in the room knows they’re only human. I am tolerant to everyone with humanity and a sense of humour.
Do you plan on making photography your main career?
I’ll say its a high possibility but I have high admiration for multitaskers. The sort of people that can accomplish anything. I think it’ll be very hard for me to become like that but all of my heroes have applied themselves to multiple genres and succeeded.
I want to be a person capable in a world that requires constant adaption.
Will you attend any art schools to enhance your artistic capability?
Even though I have a constant yearning to examine and question I at times feel I would be learning the same things as the students around me would be. I would hate to be boxed in and be similar to people I undoubtedly would try and compete against. One of the quotes I have heard repeatedly that I hate with all my heart is how nothing is original and every artist presently is a thief. I am made of all my influences and share my state of my mind with my closest friends but everything is unique. As I exhale I can never get that breath back, I inhale my environment seeming the same as it was before but if I was to live the same way by every second I would die from suffocation. The people who make the most of the small differences are the ones that will be refreshed and find life inconstantly beautiful.
What school do you attend now? None, I used to attend Disley primary in Cheshire but I was always ill. I’m not naturally a sickly person so my parents knew to take me out.
Are there any art works that you wish are never to be published?
Yes, its called my windows photo gallery ha-ha. I am so picky about what gets shown where and there is a lot of work I've done that I want to remain private. Saying that I suppose it would bring more flair to my artist bio if I exposed the true madness that I love to create. Anyway I have a lot of work in progress and I just want to practise before I show more facets of what I have the potential to create.
What countries do you want to be exhibited in more often?
America, China, Australia, Indonesia, Spain, Russia and Italy , but this is difficult. In general I would love to have my work shown much more in Asia, Africa and Australasia .
The United states is one of my favourite countries to have my work shown in as I love to network with people across the world. Its a surreal sense and seeing as I have friends over there. Its brilliant to know my work has been sold most in galleries there in comparison with the UK. I’m not sure why but I’ve found my photography appeals more to American literacy magazines than British Art magazines.
Do you travel to the countries your work has been featured in?
I have only been to visit one of the locations my work has been shown at.
Mainly because it was a 6 mile walk (my Mum doesn't drive) and I don’t have a passport.
Once I am old enough to travel I would love to take part in artist residencies.
It would feel amazing to go on holiday and just immerse myself in the culture of a new environment.
Where do you think you have the most fans, and the most exhibitions?
The most online zines and print journals in America and the most my work is shown, not strictly in exhibitions is the UK, around London and the south of England.
What is the most valuable advice you have for other young artists wanting to get published?
Try as hard as you can to be original.
Never be overly confident .
Be honest to yourself.
Treat the people who give you great opportunities like gold-dust and make the most of all kindness shown to you.
Adapt to the given situation but never sell out.
If you are having a hard time getting noticed just try to work harder and faster than your competitors.
Don’t impersonate others.
Don’t let a lack of funds or materials stifle your creativity, take a lot of notes for when things get easier.
Keep an open mind and embrace what sets you apart from everyone else.
Well that's all the questions I have time for, hope you reach your
limits and get where you want to with your photography Eleanor
Thank you very much Francis, I hope in whatever career you pursue you are happy, fulfilled and contented. Best wishes from England, Eleanor

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