I was born and raised in the central part of the Philippines, where I spent the first fifteen years of my life in blissful ignorance of anything beyond my five senses and immediate needs in my own little self-absorbed world.  Little did I know that within a matter of weeks, the new year would bring with it a visit to the doctor followed by a biopsy and a conclusive diagnosis of an ugly disease known as osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer). It was bewildering news to say the least, made worse by overhearing a discussion between my father and the orthopedic surgeon about how high above the knee the good doctor was planning to amputate. Six days later, I lost my right leg. I was fifteen years, eight months and eleven days old.

I immigrated to the United States five months later--physically healed, emotionally dulled and learning to walk with a prosthetic leg. It was then that I got my first camera—a gift from one of my relatives. It was a Pentax K1000, a manual focus 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) film camera paired with a 50mm lens.

I must admit that I had never been into photography before that—my blissfully ignorant world before then had consisted of sports and girls and movies and television shows about sports and girls. But the new camera outfit was an eye-opener in more ways than one--it allowed me to continue to participate in a world that was no longer available to me and to express my vision and my evolving gestalt. Soon I dove headlong into all things photography—reading as much literature as was available, taking as many photos as I possibly could and eventually learning to develop and print black & white film. Eventually, with one of the first paychecks from my first real job, I would finally purchase my own camera--a Nikon FE2 film SLR. I’ve been a Nikonista ever since.

Over the years, I continued to explore my expanding understanding of the world around me through the camera's viewfinder, filtering everything that I captured through my continuously-evolving photographic vision. By choice, I remained an amateur. I never pursued photography as a profession for the simple reason that I never wanted to spoil my love for the craft with the stress of having to make a living from it. 

As a profession, I work as a data governance subject matter expert for one of the largest energy & utility companies in the United States. I am a member of the Advisory Board for the UCLA Data Science Extension program, for which I develop and teach courses in data governance and data quality. I speak and act as an expert panelist at data governance conferences.  That is how I make a living. It is my vocation. On the other hand, my avocation, which I’ve now been practicing for over 35 years, remains a continuing form of self-expression. I remain un photographe amateur.  

I write. I travel. I take pictures. Enjoy the images and experience the adventure.



Keith Leonin