Shooting For Something Special In The Mundane

ARCHITECT and keen photographer, Lionel Leo has spent more than five decades looking for special street scenes.

He’s travelled the world with his camera, ready to snap a picture that captures a moment in time for posterity, and print.

Lionel’s interest in photography was fired up when he laid eyes on a Minolta SLR when he was 11 years old. It was beyond his reach, but that didn’t stop him mustering the funds and engaging his father’s help in landing the camera.

Lionel Leo
Lionel Leo with the first camera that got him interested in photography.

“Nobody taught me,” Lionel says, about using the camera effectively.

“It was a lot of figuring things out along the way. Doing things wrongly. This went on for years.”

Photography is one of those things that you either love or you don’t, Lionel reckons.

Eventually, he picked up the skills and developed a keen eye for a shot, which he further sharpened when he took photography classes in college.

“The professor liked me so much he gave me the key to the darkroom. So I did my own processing.

“I wanted to study photography in college, but that didn’t go down well with the family.”

So he went into architecture.

Cuba cars Lionel Leo
Dream Cars, Havana 2019. Photo by Lionel Leo

“Photography helped me as an architect. 

Lionel observes that many people with nice camera equipment show you their cameras, not their photographs.

Lionel is only too pleased to show off his photographs, which are currently on display at the ION Art Gallery until 28 May 2023.

Life Goes On showcases 40 photos from around the world, curated by celebrity photographer Russel Wong.

Lionel Leo
Paint the town red, Varanasi 2018. Photo by Lionel Leo

Lionel’s adventures with his camera have produced some wonderful natural shots of life on the streets of Cuba, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and many other places.

The exhibition is held in support of The Nepal Initiative, an organisation that funds projects in relation to education and children’s welfare in Nepal. 

Lionel Leo
Meat the butcher. Hong Kong 2018. Photo by Lionel Leo

Lionel loaned his first camera to his younger sister, who lost it. 

“I bought another one. The exact same model.”

So, he’s got a nice camera to show off and talk about as well.

In the video, Lionel talks about camera tips for beginners and explains some of the background to his photographs on show at Life Goes On.

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