Interview with Leah Givens

You mentioned that you worked for your college’s newspaper. How, though, and when, did you get into artistic photography?

Artistic photography was actually my first love. My high school photography teacher, Mr. Smiley, taught me to develop my own film and print pictures. He inspired me to learn about the great photographers and lent me numerous photo books from his library. Since then, I’ve experimented to find my own favorite style.
What is the strangest thing or person you’ve ever photographed?

She might have been strange, but she was beautiful: a one-armed drag queen with neon blue hair.
Have you ever been somewhere without your camera and seen the perfect “WTF?” photographic opportunity? If so, what was it?

I have seen very beautiful, shocking, and poignant things in my work in the medical field, which would have made great photographic opportunities if confidentiality weren’t a problem.
What compels you to avoid altering or enhancing your photographic work?

I think “truth can be stranger than fiction” applies to photography just as it does to writing. I like to find things that other people may have missed seeing.
What is your process as you go about capturing images?

It depends. I go on long walks by myself and see what I run into. I make patient friends wait while they pretend not to be associated with the person taking pictures of trees or mannequins. Or I let them walk ahead and then run to catch up with them.
Do you seek out specific shots, or do you find that they just happen, that they just materialize before your eyes?

My camera is wise. We debate where to go, how to use the light. More often than not, it’s right.

Leah Givens

Leah Givens spends arguably too much time photographing store mannequins, trees, and her beautiful niece. Her images have been published in literary journals including The Bellingham Review, The Colored Lens, and Splash of Red, and a piece will appear in an upcoming juried exhibition. She received her M.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and has focused on medical research. Her roommate is a talkative cat named Tiger who likes to watch TV. Leah’s website is

Leah Givens's website »