I remember buying my first “proper” camera. You know, one with a big lens and lots of switches and dials. It was a big deal, because now I was also a proper photographer!
Barricaded into my flat in Leeds, the windows covered in blackout blinds, I busied myself developing film and printing photographs, the room thick with the rancid smell of chemicals… made stronger by the glowing bars of my fire.
When I wasn’t at work, I was in my room practicing my new found art. (OK, or playing Sonic on my Mega Drive!!)
It didn’t matter if I was any good; I had a proper camera – that was all I needed!
The thing is, some people ARE really good. Sure, it’s a judgement, but Lee Fennings (he of RokSoba fame) is just that. It’s not about the kit, it’s about the eye – think composition, style and story, three things Lee combines with effortless skill and, dare I say it, panache!?
Hot on the heals of our feature on Lee’s “Being Human” work, we decided to share some more of his images, detailing a particularly personal trip to Nepal.
He’s agreed to let us share his thoughts on his trip (below), for which we’re chuffed.
But here’s a thing: Lee is testimony to how finding a creative outlet can really help with ones recovery. Heck, he should know! What strikes me is how the simple honesty of his images reflect all of our recovery journeys – they are personal, they are passionate and they matter.
Namaste, Lee. Respect.
Welcome to A Peace Of Nepal.
By Lee Fennings, 2017
In April 2017, I embarked on a trip to the landlocked central Himalayan country of Nepal in South Asia, nestled between Tibet (Tibet Autonomous Region of China) in the north and India in the south, east, and west. I was headed to the nation’s capital and largest city, Kathmandu, and I would spend almost a month in the Kathmandu Valley, the most developed and populated area in Nepal, renowned for its unique architecture and rich culture.
In addition to fulfilling my dream of visiting the country, I decided to dedicate some time volunteering. Utilising my interest in Buddhism, I opted to teach English to young Buddhist monks in a monastery located minutes by foot from the ancient religious stupa of Swayambhunath, a pilgrimage site surrounded by temples, statues of deities…and monkeys (it is also known as the Monkey Temple).
This area of spiritual and cultural wonderment would also be my home during the three-week voluntary assignment. I would stay with a Nepali host family, who, like all of the Nepalese people I met, offered unrivalled hospitality and warmth.
I would visit other notable locations in the Kathmandu Valley, too, including Bhaktapur to witness the dramatic Bisket Jatra Festival, which heralds the start of the Nepali New Year; Nargakot for panoramic views of the Himalayan range (albeit shrouded in mist and rain); and two other important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Nepal, Namobuddha and Boudhanath.
Of the hundreds of photographs taken, I have selected for the book those that evoke the most emotion, mystery and ambience of this awe-inspiring country. Some may even transport you for a moment to a magical place that carries with it the real essence of A Peace Of Nepal.
As a sign of my gratitude to the peace-loving nation of Nepal, I will donate all proceeds from the sale of this book to Nyanang Phelgyeling Monastery and Segyu Gaden Phodrang Monastery.
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You can get Lee’s book, A Peace of Nepal, here… don’t forget, all profits are donated to charity!
Born in 1971, Lee’s travels have seen him visiting almost every continent, with the exception of Australia, and spent nearly five years living and working in Spain, eventually returning to the UK where he began to develop a promising career in financial regulation. However, plagued with mental health issues and a tempestuous relationship with alcohol, Lee eventually fell afoul of the law, thus bringing his career to an abrupt halt. In October of 2014, Lee made the life-changing decision to stop drinking alcohol…forever.
He soon reconnected with his lifelong interest in photography and in December 2015 Lee published his first street photography book, Pulse, with all profits donated to the mental health charity, Mind. One year later he published Being Human, questioning our own human characteristics and the meaning of being human.