TYRONE LEBON: HOMETOWN GLORY
Born and raised in London, Tyrone Lebon is a photographer and filmmaker who uses his hometown as the backdrop and inspiration for much of his work.
We caught up with innovator Tyrone ahead of our second Flyknit Collective workshop on ‘Lightness’ next week at 1948.
You’re a filmmaker and photographer. How did you get into both mediums?
I’m interested in imagery as a whole, so I’ve naturally always been drawn to both. I grew up surrounded by film and video via my dad and uncle. I’d help them with music videos and documentary films, they would make them, and I’d edit. I got into film around the same time the first DV camera came out, luckily my dad had one and I took it to school one day, filmed my friends, then edited it on the first version of Final Cut. I’ve been very lucky to have a dad who had film equipment when I was a kid and even luckier that he allowed me to use it!
When I was 16, I started photographing my friends. I was quite shy back then so it turned out to be a good tool to interact with different people I was interested in. Then I studied Anthropology at university and at that point I thought I wanted to make documentary films, but after my degree I made one documentary and it turned out to be a pretty tricky process.
At what point did you decide to turn film-making and photography into a career?
After my degree I was still living at home and desperate to move out, so I ended up assisting a photographer. After a while, I realised I’d much rather be the photographer. Six months later I began to produce my own work and found myself taking pictures to earn a living.
Photography and film have always been special and important to me and it still are. It’s funny now because I’ve got to deal with the balance of it being something very close and personal to me while it also being a way to earn a living. It’s a hard balance sometimes.
For the Flyknit Collective workshop on ‘Lightness’ you’ll be making a short film at our local skate and BMX park. Were you into skating or BMXing when you were growing up?
I’m looking forward to being able to show some young people different film techniques and hopefully help inform them about film should be fun. It’ll be a chance to give something back to some youngsters. I’ve never been any good at skateboarding really, I had a couple of skateboards growing up but I’d be lying down on them or pushing off with one knee. I think as a lanky person I’ve never found my centre of gravity – I’ve fallen off skateboards pretty much every time I’ve stood up on one. I did get into BMXing a bit but not to any amazing degree. I really enjoyed it though!
As a Londoner, tell us about how your hometown has inspired your work.
London is home. I grew up East with my mum, West with my dad and now I live in South. I’m not one of those people who defend their area ‘til the end, I’m kinda from all sides of London so I defend my city. It’s a very special place for me.
From what i’ve seen of other cities around the world, a lot of them are good in many ways but none have the same mix of cultures that I find so exciting here. I never realised how special that aspect of the city was until I started travelling around the world. The amazing mix of cultures, ethnic groups and diverse backgrounds all living together is so interesting to me. I guess in my pictures I like to document that – I think your surroundings influence you, it invades what you do and it can’t be helped, so I’m grateful to be surrounded by London.
I'M GRATEFUL TO BE SURROUNDED BY LONDON