In Reely and Truly, Tyrone Lebon offers an unorthodox, behind-the-scenes take on photography
Tyrone Lebon‘s short documentary film Reely and Truly succinctly describes itself as a “visual poem on contemporary photographers and their practices.” Shot on all the available analogue, celluloid formats (65mm, 35mm, Super 16mm and Super 8mm) the film’s cinéma-vérité approach reveals as much about the individual, independent photographers it features, as it does about their distinct and disparate work.
The son of an unorthodox and ground-breaking fashion photographer and filmmaker, Lebon grew up in London—during the 1990s—within a creatively stimulating environment of collaboratively-minded practitioners and independent publications. His father Mark Lebon (an early and regular contributor to i-D magazine and a member of the influential West London collective, Buffalo) has clearly been a massive influence, and fittingly the documentary is, playfully and somewhat unconventionally, introduced by him—as the younger Lebon states, from his personal perspective, “if this is a film about photography it should start with him.”
The film features candid vignettes of 20 photographers, including Nobuyoshi Araki, Nigel Shafran, Sean Vegezzi and a number of segments on Juergen Teller—a photographer who, Lebon says, stood out for him in his formative years. “Through my teens I would pick up magazines when the most successful photography was the shiny school of fashion photography—which to me couldn’t be more soul-less and uninteresting—so Juergen’s work stood out as honest. I felt emotion and stories in his pictures and was drawn to that.”
Lebon orginally planned to make a full-length film piece dedicated to Teller, who—although initially reticent to being filmed—ultimately gave Lebon incredible access. The two met regularly over a six-month period, filming in London and traveling together to Germany and India—to document the photographer both at work, and play.
The results, as with the other featured photographers, are often unexpected and revealing—and give insight to the process and personalities of those involved.
The 29 minutes and 17 seconds of Reely and Truly serve as a brief socio-anthropological study of contemporary independent photography, which informed by Lebon’s own influences and experiences—his family and upbringing, his education (he has an MA in social anthropology) and his own perspective as a photographer—produce an intimate and raw mash up of material, that ultimately feels like a sketch for a bigger piece. Which is exactly what it is. Lebon’s ambitions for the project are many-fold and include plans to make a book of photographs with an accompanying series of short portrait films for each of his subjects.
In the meantime, Reely and Truly is being screened within the context of a traveling exhibition, “a lie about a lie; a truth about The truth”, that includes work from the photographers featured in the film and extends to a wider community of image makers —both established and emerging—who contribute to Lebon’s online platform DoBeDo.
Phil Bicker is a senior photo editor at TIME.