At just 17 years old, Graeme Leaf has seen more than his share of abandoned places. Armed with a trusty Nikon d610, Graeme can often be found on the streets, under the bridges and in the back alleys of his hometown of Brooklyn, NY, looking for shots others miss, or in the countryside near Rhinecliff, NY, where his family spends weekends and much of the summer. On the Brooklyn Heights promenade he might capture the trails of light created by passing trucks, avoiding altogether the frequently-photographed skyline view of lower Manhattan. On a busy street, he may turn his lens to the faces of passersby or graffiti on the walls, continuing in a long tradition of street photography that focusses less on light and more on shadows.
Graeme tells us that his interest in photographing abandoned places began last year when he was a sophomore in high-school. Despite being a product of the digital age, Graeme’s passion for photography was fueled in a darkroom, under the safe lights, processing film and prints the old-fashioned way. While the magic of creating prints with silver and chemistry is undeniable, so too is the ease and convenience of a digital work-flow. After experimenting with film, Graeme switched to digital photography in 2013 with the purchase of a Nikon D5100. When asked what inspired his increasing interest in photography, Graeme says, “I think what initially made me want to make the commitment was after seeing my good friend, Justin Amoafo’s, beautiful photography. He made me think that if he could do it, so could I.” Graeme took his interest a step further when earlier this year he switched from his starter D5100 to the full-frame d610 equipped with a versatile 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G lens. To get the most out of his images, Graeme edits using Adobe Lightroom 5 “with the occasional VSCO Preset.”
Graeme’s fascination with all things abandoned has taken him from Miami’s abandoned Marine Stadium to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He will soon be turning his lens on the streets and alleyways of Coney Island, where many buildings lay abandoned in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. To see more of Graeme’s work click here