By Pam Voth
Revealing Untold Stories and Inspiring Change through Photography
Listen to the full interview wherever you get your podcasts.
Leslie Spurlock is a highly accomplished photojournalist who has documented conflicts and captured the essence of time-honored traditions of cultures around the world.
Covering the Unseen Stories
During Leslie’s early days as a photojournalist, she captured stories that often went unnoticed by the rest of the world. Her dedication to telling truthful stories took her to places like Haiti during periods of unrest, where she encountered the responsibility of documenting both sides of the story. Later, she returned to Haiti and ended up documenting a huge flood that killed 3,000 people. Even though it was a challenge, she felt it was important to present the brutal realities of conflicts and disaster while still preserving a sense of empathy.
"Every image has a story to tell, and my job is to be a conduit for those stories," says Leslie. "I've seen the impact a single photograph can have on the world, and it's a constant reminder of the weight of my role."
Photojournalism's Role in Change
Beyond just capturing images, photojournalism has a transformative power to influence change. Leslie’s mentor, a photojournalist in Nicaragua, played a pivotal role in changing US policy through a single photo. Leslie feels that the goal of photojournalism is not just to show the world what's happening but to make the world care and bring about change.
"I often find myself torn between my role as an observer and my desire to intervene," Leslie explains. "But ultimately, I believe that bearing witness and sharing these stories is a form of activism in itself."
From George Floyd Protests to Traditional Tribes
Leslie decided she needed to cover the George Floyd protests to document the historical significance of the movement. She ended up in the midst of the action and even got teargassed. Her photos were published in major publications around the world including the Wall Street Journal.
More recently, Leslie made a bucket list trek to India's Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland regions to capture the stories of different tribes, showcasing the unique beauty and struggles of each. The experience of connecting with indigenous cultures offers insights into human resilience and a glimpse into vanishing traditions.
"I've learned that every culture, no matter how remote, has something valuable to teach us about the human experience," Leslie shares. "It's a humbling journey that reminds me of our shared humanity."
Connecting through the Lens
In the midst of covering protests and diverse cultures, Leslie's ability to connect with subjects is apparent. Despite language barriers, she manages to create a sense of comfort that's evident in her portraits. From photographing women with traditional nose plugs in Arunachal Pradesh to engaging with tribes in Nagaland, the stories behind these images illustrate the depth of connection achieved through the lens.
"Photography is more than just capturing an image; it's about capturing a moment of connection," Leslie reveals. "It's about making people feel seen and heard, regardless of their background."
Art Collecting and Legacy
Leslie has extensive involvement in the world of NFT art. Her practice of collecting art from around the world has evolved from supporting friends to appreciating the artistry and the stories behind it. She feels her vast collection of NFTs is a sort of legacy to leave behind, that showcases the diverse works of artists and cultures and serves as a testament to the transformative power of art.
"I see art as a bridge between cultures and generations," Leslie explains. "Each piece carries a part of the artist's soul and contributes to the larger narrative of our shared human experience."
Leslie wants to continue exploring remote cultures and has aspirations to visit places like Papua New Guinea and Romania to capture the essence of lesser-known traditions. With every project and adventure, Leslie's dedication to truth, empathy, and capturing the beauty and struggles of our world shines through.
"I'm excited to continue shedding light on the stories that deserve to be told," Leslie concludes. "Through my lens, I hope to spark conversations, challenge perceptions, and inspire change, one photograph at a time."
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