Leigh’s photography is mainly thematic, often using dramatic lighting in wilderness situations, or monochrome in the urban landscape. The vast majority of his output has concentrated on the Northern Mill Towns, trying to depict a changing industrial landscape. Over the past 30 years he has travelled widely, with an emphasis on the USA to make images in the National Parks out of season and more particularly Yellowstone in Winter, alongside a larger portfolio about the empty Prairies inspired by the book ‘Badlands’ by Jonathan Raban and also by Steinbeck. Trips to Cuba, India, Greenland, Norway and Georgia, have added a more reportage style of portraiture to his portfolio. Lately he has been working on the street, looking for characters and humour or aspects of absurdity. He prefers to work alone, influenced by the environment he grew up with, and the photography of Bill Brandt, John Gray, and Michael Kenna and the artists L.S.Lowry and Atkinson Grimshaw. Lyricism and narrative have become increasingly important in the documentary work he is now producing, linking influences such as J.B. Priestly, Beryl Bainbridge alongside Bob Dylan and Roger Waters. More recently he has been working on projects for publications and writing the narratives to balance the pictures, these include an essay on Power and Power Stations, Rock Musicians and an ongoing portrait of Liverpool.
Leigh Preston has produced three books – ‘Shadows of Change’ and ‘Five Essays’ and ‘ Santorini’ all of which depict the various aspects of his photography as outlined above.
Leigh has lectured widely for over 40 years, still has a darkroom, although most of his work is now digital. He sat on RPS distinction panels for over 25 years. He now runs location workshops , and printing courses for Permajet. Prior to that he worked as a tutor for Jessops school of photography in Leicester and has continued to teach college courses , although these are now far fewer and on-line due to the impact of Covid. His working life was as a Cartographer and Land Surveyor for the Ordnance Survey and other Govt. Departments.