Travel Photographer • Documentary Photographer • Photojournalist

I was born in Montreal and am now based in Vancouver Canada. I’m a travel photojournalist and documentary photographer with 36-years professional photography experience. I started in photography as an advertising and corporate photographer and in 1987 moved to Milan, Italy where I lived and worked for 9-years as a fashion and advertising photographer. While in Italy I continued shooting travel and documentary photography.

My travel and documentary work is driven by instinctive curiosity, wanderlust and shows the character and the human spirit of the places I visit. My photography is a way of contributing to other people’s appreciation and understanding of diverse cultures and their traditions. I photograph people in their environment, especially traditional and indigenous people or people with lots of character who have interesting stories. My passion for photography has evolved into being a visual voice for all cultures and making a contribution to society.

The photography I do is featured in magazines and books around the world (see publishing credits below). You can read more about my photography in a F8 Magazine interview here, in an Asian Photography Magazine interview here and in another story here. Have a look at the latest images and projects here.

I hope you enjoy looking at my work 🙂

…Imagine you are living with the last surviving descendants of the Mayan Empire. They take you through their rainforest where they run barefoot through winding roots and towering trees…

Lacandon Mayan boy at Cascadas Lacanja, near Lacanja village, Chiapas, Mexico.
Lacandon Maya boy, Selva Lacandona, Chiapas, Mexico
 
 
 
Story by Troy Germaine Taylor

Imagine you are living with the last surviving descendants of the Mayan Empire. They take you through their rainforest where they run barefoot through winding roots and towering trees. As you step carefully across makeshift log bridges fallen over clear running streams and wade through a jungle lush with leafy palms, mahogany trees wrapped in vines, and the leathery leaves of bromeliads that tiny tree frogs and salamanders drink from, your guides tell you that dangerous men nearby are cutting down trees and that these same men will kill anyone that tries to stop them. About a kilometer from the site of devastation, they leave you alone in the forest to creep among the periphery of the canopy that the threatened jaguars, red macaws, and spider monkeys call home, all in an effort to document the ravaged forest these Mayan ancestors have tried to preserve. Only when you return alive do they fully accept you into their village, their lives, and their traditions.

“It was a great opportunity to serve a greater cause doing my lifework and being a voice…”

Mohawk Warrior on F8 Magazine cover
F8 Magazine – cover, interview and portfolio
 

“They accepted me into their village and let me photograph their leader and rituals that few outsiders had ever seen at that time,” photographer Robert Leon told F8 magazine in a January 2011 interview. “I was the only non-Lacandon person there and had an authentic immersion into their culture. It was a great opportunity to serve a greater cause doing my lifework and being a voice for indigenous people of the Earth.” Some may say they are passionate about photography. Others go out and live it. Robert Leon lives his passion for photography to the utmost, enveloping himself within the cultures he records, embracing each unique way of life with a gentle respect that has a way of opening the landscapes and faces he photographs. Over the past few months in talking with Robert Leon, he has revealed where this passion comes from by email, sharing earlier interviews, and in conversations.

In his lifetime journey with photography, Leon has travelled, not only across the planet but also as a photographer, gradually maturing from his creative life in Milan as a fashion and advertising photographer to a chronicler of stories, people, places, and our planet itself.

“Documentary photography and travel photojournalism is for me about being a mirror of things happening to the people and the Earth…”

Rajasthani camel-driver in the Thar Desert, near Khuri Village, Rajasthan, India is published in Asian Photography Magazine
Asian Photography Magazine (Mumbai, India)
 

Leon told Asian Photography magazine in May 2011, “Documentary photography and travel photojournalism is for me about being a mirror of things happening to the people and the Earth. It’s a track record showing our roots and our probable future direction, a mirror reflecting humanity back at people to contemplate themselves, their existence and evolution so that one day we will live without harming the Earth and each other. It raises our consciousness individually and collectively by revealing our true nature and our relationship with Earth.” Although Leon still does commercial photography, he has learned over the years to keep his commercial work within the bounds of companies that show a conscientious disposition toward the Earth and its people.

“I’m sending joy and happiness up to the Universe so it falls back to Earth as a rain of joy and happiness onto people.”

~ Sadhu Yogi Baba Ramaeshuranand at Pushkar Lake, Rajasthan, India

Leon’s shift in his mind-set toward photography is beautifully depicted in a story he conveys of a trip to Rajasthan, India. While there, Leon ran into a Sadhu or holy man, who proceeded to invite Leon into his personal temple, a small room about 10 square feet. Leon shared the story like this: “In the temple, the Sadhu raised his arms and looked at the sky and started laughing with joy. At that moment a beam of sunlight came through a doorway and lit-up his hand. I asked him what he was doing and he said, ‘I’m sending joy and happiness up to the Universe so it falls back to Earth as a rain of joy and happiness onto people.'” According to Leon, he thought about the Sadhu’s words and quickly understood that they had captured precisely where Leon was in his life with photography. Leon stated, “I want to show people around the world in a positive way by sending images into the World – or as the Sadhu did—up to the universe—and hopefully it will have a positive effect as a rain of joy and happiness onto people, something that will create positive change.”

Leon’s passion for photography is rooted in his family’s photographic heritage. While Leon holds a degree in photographic arts from the Alberta College of Art and Design in Canada, his love for the art form grew out of his childhood time watching his father develop his own photographs. Leon explained in Asian Photography magazine, “It’s my organic roots in photography—using film with a camera you manually focus and expose. There’s a very real, organic, tactile beauty in that process for me, and it has helped me translate that organic quality into digital photography.” Though Leon now uses primarily digital photography, he still has a soft spot for film and will use it accordingly depending on what he is photographing.

“My way of being has evolved by learning many things in many places about people and myself. My curiosity about the Earth and people has progressed into a mission as a responsible observer showing truth and beauty around us.”

Greek lady laughing on Therassia Island, Santorini, Greece  
Greek woman laughing, Santorini, Greece
 

With photography as his own roots and by using it to help others record theirs, Leon himself has transformed over the years. He told F8 magazine, “My way of being has evolved by learning many things in many places about people and myself. My curiosity about the Earth and people has progressed into a mission as a responsible observer showing truth and beauty around us.” Leon’s passion extends to “spreading around compassion, love, and understanding of all cultures,” Leon said. “I’m not a war photographer,” he explained. “I’m a love photographer.” What Leon means by love is his passion. “My passion for photography has evolved into being a visual voice for all cultures and making a contribution to society while evolving myself as a person with the experiences I have and expanding out to others, sharing and learning from their experiences as well,” Leon explained.

Inspired by his parents National Geographic and Life magazines when he was a child, Leon’s photography is now focused on depicting the beauty on Earth and within her people. “The curiosity to go and see places evolved into enthusiasm to do something good, which gives me the energy to continue doing what I do.”

Cuban Culture in F8 Magazine
Cuban Culture (F8 Magazine profile)
 

Inspired by his parents National Geographic and Life magazines when he was a child, Leon’s photography is now focused on depicting the beauty on Earth and within her people. “The curiosity to go and see places evolved into enthusiasm to do something good, which gives me the energy to continue doing what I do,” Leon told F8 magazine. “I consider us all indigenous people of Earth, so we are all responsible for the Earth. My photography of indigenous cultures has no boundaries and includes everyone.” It is this same loving respect for all people and this planet that took Leon to the Mayan’s jungle and makes Leon’s passion for photography unique, filling it with an uncommon beauty that is every bit as distinct as the photographer himself.

Ms. Troy Germaine Taylor is a writer, editor, and teacher living in Vancouver, Canada.
 
 
Show

Publication Credits (1980 → present)

  • AIR CANADA EnRoute Magazine, Canada
  • AIRONE Magazine, Milan Italy
  • ALLYN & BACON PUBLISHING / PEARSON EDUCATION, Boston USA
  • ALASKA AIRLINES Magazine, Seattle USA
  • ALTAIR Magazine, Barcelona Spain
  • AMERICAN EXPRESS DEPARTURES Magazine
  • AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION / APA MONITOR Magazine, Washington DC
  • AMERICAN SUPERCONDUCTOR (AMSC), Devens, Massachusetts, USA
  • AMERICAS Magazine, Washington DC
  • ARNOLDO MONDADORI EDITORE, Milan Italy
  • ASIAN PHOTOGRAPHY Magazine, Mumbai India (Cover/profile interview)
  • AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION LTD., UK
  • AVALON TRAVEL PUBLISHING, USA
  • BANK OF MONTREAL, Canada
  • BARNES & NOBLE, USA
  • BRITISH COLUMBIA CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL – Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • BRITISH COLUMBIA PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION (BCPA) – Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA, Vancouver, Canada
  • BLACK & WHITE Magazine, Australia
  • BUSINESS LIFE Magazine, Toronto Canada
  • CALGARY OLYMPICS Calendars & Posters, Canada
  • CANADIAN AIRLINES In-flight Magazine, Canada
  • CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (CMA) – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • CLIN D’OIEL Magazine, Montreal Canada
  • COLMAR Ski Wear, Milan Italy
  • CONTINENTAL AIRLINES / CONTINENTAL Magazine, USA
  • COUNTERPART INTERNATIONAL, Washington DC
  • CTV TELEVISION INC, Canada
  • DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE, Washington DC
  • DELTA AIRLINES SKY Magazine, USA
  • DELTA HOTELS BY MARRIOTT BURNABY CONFERENCE CENTRE, Burnaby Canada
  • DELTA SUN PEAKS RESORT, Sun Peaks BC Canada
  • DESERT ASHRAM, Arizona USA
  • DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHER Magazine UK (profile/interview), U.K.
  • DOLCE Magazine Amalfi Coast, Italy (text/photography), Toronto, Canada
  • DOVE Magazine, Milan Italy
  • DOCTORS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (DRs of BC), Vancouver, Canada
  • ÉLAN Skis, Milan Italy
  • ELITE TRAVELER Magazine, New York USA
  • ENSEMBLE TRAVEL GROUP, Toronto, Canada
  • ESSO, Canada
  • F8 Magazine, Spain (profile/interview – read here)
  • FABER AND FABER LTD.“VENDETTA” Book Cover, London, UK
  • FLARE Magazine, Toronto Canada
  • FLASH Magazine, Athens Greece
  • FODOR’S TRAVEL – Guatemala guidebook cover, New York, USA
  • FODOR’S TRAVEL – Vancouver & British Columbia guidebook cover, New York USA
  • FOUR SEASONS RESORT WHISTLER, Whistler BC Canada
  • FOUR SEASONS RESORT VANCOUVER, Vancouver BC Canada
  • FRASER HEALTH AUTHORITY, Vancouver BC Canada
  • FRASER RIVER STURGEON CONSERVATION SOCIETY, Vancouver Canada
  • GENTE MONEY Magazine, Milan Italy
  • GENTE VIAGGI Magazine, Milan Italy
  • GEO Magazine, France
  • GEO Magazine, Spain
  • GEO Magazine, Germany
  • GEO SAISON Magazine, Germany
  • GRAZIA Magazine – GIORGIO MONDADORI EDITORE, Milan Italy
  • GREY ADVERTISING (Translink TravelSmart ad), Vancouver Canada
  • GULLIVER Magazine, Milan Italy
  • HONDA, Canada
  • HOUSE AND GARDEN / CONDÉ NAST, USA
  • HARCOURT PUBLISHERS, USA
  • HOLT, RINEHART AND WINSTON, USA
  • I.B.TAURIS & Co Ltd (Bloomsbury Publishing) – Book cover “Strolling Through Istanbul”, London UK
  • HORIZON AIRLINES Magazine, Seattle USA
  • IKEPOD WATCHES, Zurich Switzerland
  • IN Magazine / LAN AIRLINES ONBOARD Magazine (Cuba feature), Santiago Chile
  • ISLANDS Magazine, USA
  • ITALIA! Magazine / ANTHEM PUBLISHING, UK
  • JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING, Munich Germany
  • KONE, Milan Italy
  • KLM AIRLINES – HOLLAND HERALD, Netherlands
  • LANGARA FISHING ADVENTURES, BC Canada
  • LONELY PLANET PUBLICATIONS, Australia/USA
  • LONELY PLANET PUBLICATIONS – Cuba Guidebook Cover (2nd edition), Australia/USA
  • LONELY PLANET PUBLICATIONS – Greek Islands Guidebook Cover (5th edition), Australia/USA
  • LIVING PLANET Magazine, Australia
  • L’UOMO VOGUE Italia, Milan Italy
  • MERCEDES BENZ Canada smart fortwo expedition (BBDO), Toronto, Canada
  • MERCEDES Magazine (smart fortwo expedition), Spafax Canada
  • MEN’S JOURNAL Magazine, New York USA
  • MICHAEL FRIEDMAN PUBLISHING, New York
  • MOLSON, Canada
  • NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOKS, USA
  • NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Magazine, USA
  • NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER GUIDEBOOKS: India, Mexico, Venice, USA
  • NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER Magazine, USA
  • NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Magazine Nikkei, Japan
  • NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION, USA
  • NEW YORK TIMES
  • NEW YORK TIMES TRAVEL – Emily Carr story, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
  • NEW YORK TIMES TRAVEL – Vancouver BC travel story
  • NEW YORK TIMES – story on artisit Sara Genn, Cresent Beach, BC, Canada
  • NO LIMITS Magazine, Greece
  • NUVO Magazine (Israel), Canada
  • OUTPOST Magazine, Canada
  • PACE COMMUNICATIONS. USA
  • PACIFIC GROVE COMMUNICATIONS INC. Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • PENGUIN GROUP CANADA “Time Among the Maya” cover, Canada
  • PETRO CANADA
  • PINNACLE HOTEL HARBOURFRONT – Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • POHLY & PARTNERS, INC., USA
  • PROFESSION PHOTOGRAFE Magazine cover, Paris France
  • PROGRESSO FOTOGRAFICO Magazine (cover/profile/interview), Milan Italy
  • READER’S DIGEST, CANADA
  • RESIDENT DOCTORS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, Vancouver, Canada
  • RESORTS & GREAT HOTELS Magazine, USA
  • RICK HANSEN FOUNDATION, Canada
  • RUSCONI EDITORE, Milan Italy
  • SACRED FIRE MAGAZINE – SACRED FIRE FOUNDATION, Marina del Rey, USA
  • ST. PAUL’S HOSPITAL – New St Paul’s Hospital “Gift of a Lifetime” (Video) – Vancouver, Canada
  • SAVOY Magazine, New York USA
  • SNC LAVALIN, Canada
  • SONY PICTURES IMAGEWORKS USA, Vancouver studio
  • SPORTS ILLUSTRATED WOMEN, New York
  • SPORTSWEAR INTERNATIONAL Magazine, Milan Italy
  • SISI, Milan Italy
  • SMITHSONIAN Magazine, USA
  • SPA Magazine, USA
  • STANTEC Inc., Canada
  • SUN ICE, Canada
  • SUNSET Magazine, California USA
  • THE BRITISH MUSEUM “What’s On” guide, London UK
  • THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, Washington DC
  • THE FAIRMONT CHATEAU WHISTLER HOTEL, Whistler, BC, Canada
  • THE GUARDIAN Newspaper, London UK
  • THE WORLD & I Magazine / WASHINGTON TIMES, USA
  • TIME ASIA, Hong Kong
  • TRAVEL HOLIDAY Magazine, New York USA
  • TRAVEL & LIVING Magazine, Australia
  • TRANSPORT CANADA, Ottawa Canada
  • TUTTOTURISMO Magazine, Milan Italy
  • TOURING CLUB ITALIA – QUI TOURING Magazine, Milan Italy
  • URBANITY Magazine, USA (profile/portfolio)
  • VERGE Magazine, Canada
  • VIA Magazine, San Francisco USA
  • VIRTUOSO LIFE Magazine, USA
  • VOGUE Germany
  • WESTWAYS Magazine, USA
  • WORLD PULSE Magazine, USA
  • WWF / WORLD WILDLIFE FUND, USA
  • ZOOM Fotomagazin / Excite Werbeagentur, Frankfurt, Germany