Stephen Levey had no plans to be an artist/photographer. Or to be the guy who shoots art exhibitions all around LA. And yet – here he is – creating his own art on his iPhone 7Plus.
“I’ve been taking photographs for my entire life but just for myself. I never thought about monetizing my hobby, that happened purely by accident and quite recently,” he demurs. “It’s kind of a crazy story how this whole thing happened approximately 7 months ago.” He has a background in corporate marketing, but his transformation is fittingly mysterious – for months, his pictures were his footprint but DiversionsLA didn’t actually see him in person.
Now, though, there’s a face behind the photos and a story in the art itself and his iPhone use.
“Because I don’t shoot high speed motion – e.g. sports, and the fact that I’m not interested in enlarging any of my photographs to building size, I didn’t feel that I needed a ‘real camera.’ That combined with the fact that nobody was complaining about my image quality led me to the decision of solely using the camera which was always in my pocket already,” he explains.
His favorite subject: “Los Angeles in general.”
His view of his work: “I’m just a guy who likes taking pictures.”
The third generation Los Angeles-resident knows his city, and creates meaningful images of everything from architecture to automobiles, art installations to nature.
“I love shooting in DTLA, you never know what you’ll see and even though I’ve taken tens of thousands of photos of virtually the same area I’m surprised more often then not to find something I’ve missed previously,” he relates. His visual mantra is “How did I never see that.”
Some of his images are startlingly vivid, others in moody, noir black and white.
“In reality pretty much the only photo correction I do is to brightness and contrast, and every once in awhile tilt shift. I do not use software to ‘perfect’ my images,” he says. “My goal is simply to take photos that make people happy when looking at them, if you enjoy a photo i took then I’ve done my job.”
Levey says he admires a number of local photographic artists – is in fact “in awe” of their work, but “being that my mama didn’t raise no fool I will not be naming any names.”
His oeuvre is expanding. “If it’s an interesting project I’ll shoot anything. Just recently I was convinced to expand my repertoire to include fashion – a friend was offered a magazine layout and I was her choice of photographer.”
Along with photography, Levey is a runner – which probably serves him in good stead as he races from event to event to take photos around town.
“I’ve run the L.A. Marathon for the past 5 years for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and to date I’ve raised in the neighborhood of $10,000 for this very worthy and necessary charity. I never had any interest in running, let alone running a marathon but a chance encounter on a flight to Mexico changed that. This mother and daughter were flying to Mexico in order for the daughter to meet the family she’d never met before she passed away. During the six-hour flight she explained to me about her daughter’s disease and told me what a godsend St. Jude’s had been to them. When I returned to the U.S., I decided that I wanted to help, and fundraising seemed like the best way to accomplish my goals.”
Levey’s work will be on display at the upcoming Gabba Gallery Wishlist 5 opening 11/18; and is currently exhibited at The San Juan Capistrano art show curated for Dias de Los Muertes by Skye Amber Sweet.
With plans afoot to exhibit at The Hive, and an upcoming photo spread for Malibu’s The Local, there’s no doubt that Levey will be photo-present all around town. See more of his work at Diversions LA’s co-sponsored fundraiser Lyme Away 2 where you might just be able to snatch up four pieces for a song.
- Genie Davis; Photos: Stephen Levey