“The very first photograph [using a scanning electron microscope] I shot was of a flea which had bitten me in the leg while playing piano. After capturing the flea in a plastic bag, I transported it to the microscope and recorded my first electron micrograph.”
Using a scientist’s tool and “eye” to capture the splendor of a miniscule world beyond the normal range of human vision, Leonard has documented this new frontier in a style uniquely his own. Leonard strives to portray two distinct worlds through his photography. One world is being that of high contrast experimental imagery evocative of Man Ray; while the other is that of special optical effects reminiscent of surrealist’s movements. Together these worlds illustrate an infinitesimally small stage where color and light come together to create a commercial product unlike the Pop and CGI art flooding today’s markets.
With comedy, pathos, and a sense of the sublime, Leonard’s photography captures and highlights the mesmerizing patterns, shapes, and colors naturally inherent to even the smallest levels of nature.
Andrew is interested in “surprising with the familiar”. Nature in innerspace often repeats our human world and outspace. The surfaces of kidney stone crystals resemble alpine landscape. Dendrites from neurons often resemble bare tree branches in the winter up against an overcast sky. Skeletons of sea creatures seem to have faces and portray moods and even look like the planet, Saturn.
Andrew Paul Leonard was born in New York, NY and grew up in Westchester County, NY. As an avid student of photography and biology at Hampshire College, Andrew began his visual and technical training in creating art prints of electron microscopy through a fascination with the morphology, colors and shapes of leukocytes first on optical microscopes. Further technical studies at the University of Massachusetts’s Microbiology department, Cornell Medical College, as well as audiovisual companies in the late 1980s honed his already formidable skills and allowed for mastery of varied tools such as the Forox and Marin animation cameras. Optical special effects were assigned and allowed for Leonard to apply concept to perfect optical special effects for corporate slide presentations. During the economic downturn of the late 1980s, Leonard dedicated his talents to the commercialization of microscopic photography within the field of pharmaceutical advertising and created his own company to realize this vision: APL Microscopic. Currently, Leonard’s “cameras” include field emission scanning electron microscopes, and the recently discovered Carl Zeiss SMT, Orion Helium ion-beam scanner. His photograph of a bone marrow stem cell was featured on the cover of Time magazine’s August 7, 2006. Also that year, Leonard's image of a human embryonic stem cell was feature in Time Magazine's one of "Best Photos” for 2006.