Leona Moore | Portraiture Maven

by Camille Johnson

Born China Moore, Leona Moore has quickly created a name for herself as an up-and-coming photographer in Detroit. This weekend Camille chopped it up with the Detroit-native to learn more about the woman behind the camera.

It began as a way to preserve memories created with her friends.

"I started taking pictures around 13 or 14 years old. It started out with me just wanting to have pictures of my friends and recording the silly things we’d do. I didn’t see it as art initially; it was just something I enjoyed doing. Then I began exploring what photography meant to other people around the world (thank you flickr!) and I became instantly enamored with it. The imagery I’d see people create with their camera and eye was inspiring. That’s when I thought – I want to do THAT. The issue was I could never find my way into a photography class in school. It wasn't until the summer of 2014 that I took a film class that would change my photography forever."

Her camera is the perfect spouse.

"I’d have to say I’m most proud of how much photography has become a routine part of my life. There’s really not a day that goes by that I’m not thinking about it. Sometimes I feel like I’m married to my camera. Like, are we going out today or what honey? We need some quality time! Lol. Anybody that knows me knows that it’s important to me, and I wear that proudly."

Knowledge is power - and inspiration. 

"Knowledge inspires me. Whether it’s learning a new technique, hearing a new song, eating a dish I’ve never tried before, or even learning more about my ancestry and heritage. It all motivates me to try and create something new. Luckily, knowledge is infinite, so I’ll never run out of ideas or inspiration. They’ll always be something to learn and explore."

Everyone from Tyra Banks to her local peers influence Leona's photography. 

"Industry-wise, I’m inspired by Tyra Banks, Rog Walker & his wife Bee Walker, and Gordon Parks. Tyra was a big influence on my progression as a photographer, and I hadn’t noticed it for years. I’d watch her on TV every week, coaching models on things like how to be versatile, finding the light, working with textures, exuding confidence – and then getting the treat of watching her capture this with her own camera was so dope to me. She’s just one of those people whose been in the industry so long and knows so much, she’s able to do it all, and I admire that. Not to mention she’s a prominent figure in the black community and one of the “firsts” for many things.

Honestly though, there are a lot of local artists I respect and inspire me as well - all black and young. They all have their own eye and quirk that makes their imagery a joy to look at. There’s a lot of talent in Detroit -- that can’t be denied. I just wish we supported each other more. I know sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but there’s room for all of us." 

She loves capturing people. 

"Portraiture is my favorite type of photography, hands down. I love capturing people. We’re all so unique but can relate to each other so well. Expressions of joy, sorrow, passion, confidence – I want them all. My favorite part is seeing people react to how I’ve captured them. It’s a rewarding feeling. I also enjoy people who are a blank canvas; and allow you to use them for your specific vision. I did recently however take a trip down to Selma, AL for the 50th anniversary of bloody Sunday, taking documentary style photos of the march reenactment. That trip was… like nothing I’d seen in person before. A sea of black faces, picketing and marching with so much pride; people in tears, kids holding up signs of love – it was incredible. I do hope in the future I’m able to capture more events like that."

Her career goals are as expansive as her skills and talents. 

"In terms of future career goals, ahh, there’s so many! As far as photography is concerned, I’d like to set-up a sturdy home base here, while simultaneously traveling and working with artists outside of Michigan. Get into some gallery shows and meet other creative’s along the way.

Something many people don’t know about me is that I’m also a Pre-Physical student working towards a Doctoral Degree. Being a licensed PT has been something I’ve wanted for a while, so keeping that at the forefront of my goals is important to me as well."

What does Leona have in store for the rest of 2015?

"Man so much! I’ve been investing a lot of time, money, resources, and prayer into making 2015 even bigger than last year – which is going to be hard, because 2014 was amazing! But so far it’s been going according to the plan, so stay tuned and I think you guys will be presently surprised."

To keep up with Leona's expanding portfolio visit www.LeonaMoore.com | check her out on Flickr love-chmy | follow her on Instagram @chmylovesphotos