Leigh Righton, Photography, Story, Video

The Thousand Words

I’ve started a new personal project “The Thousand Words” Each episode an individual is featured sharing the meaning and story behind their most valued/treasured printed photograph. In this first video, Brock talks about owning a Yousuf Karsh original, but that it’s sentimental value is equally as significant as the famous photographer who took it.

Leigh Righton, Photography, Story

Coffins, Cookies and Chai

This time two years ago I was exploring India. In some ways it feels like years ago, but simultaneously somehow also feels like just a blink of an eye. Time sure likes to play tricks..

One of my favourite moments travelling along the Southern Coast of India was in Kerala. My friend and I spent a few days in a little town and our guest house was near a row of coffin makers “shops”. Every day we walked by we were both fascinated by them, and finally one day we stopped and said hello and asked to photograph the craftsman. He didn’t speak a word of English, but his smile and soft demeanour made him so approachable.

While we were photographing him it started to rain, and very quickly it began to pour.. full on India monsoon style. The man’s wife wandered over to us and by using hand gestures, invited us inside for tea and out of the rain. She walked us into their home, which was tucked behind the “storefront” She sat us on a bed (there was no couch) turned on their little TV and another man came in and put the channel onto the only one showing something American, and it happened to be Good Will Hunting. Their kindness and generosity was overwhelming, and her chai was the most delicious I tasted in India, but it was difficult not to notice the coffin and wooden crosses half finished sitting on another bed just beside us. My friend and I got the nervous giggles when we were alone in the room for a moment and she whispered to me, “the next thing you know, we wake up in that coffin!”

The next thing we knew, we were actually totally awake (thank you chai) and she lead us back into her kitchen and then out through the back to a little mini farm. It was this amazing little house and it was easy to see she was so proud and happy to share and show us. No wonder the chai was so good, it had fresh goats milk.

The rain had subsided by then, so she sent us on our way with a truly memorable moment that had us full of cookies and tea, but also this other warm fuzzy feeling that I get just thinking about it. No words that any of us could understand were exchanged the entire time, I wish I could have learned more about them, but we communicated with smiles and nods, and that was enough.

Leigh Righton, Photography

Paper Portrait


I have been wanting to share this mixed media image for ages. My initial plan was to create enough of these to do a show, using portraits I took of the kids I worked with in Sri Lanka and India several years back with Orphan Sponsorship International. I may still develop this in the future, but for now this remains a stand alone piece.

The process:

Printed the portrait (taken outdoors- as you can see below) using a regular office printer.

Using a newspaper that I brought home from India, I ripped pieces off and put them over top of the portrait using variations in the paper’s gradients to help shape the image.

I took a photograph of the paper pieces laid overtop of the portrait and brought it into Photoshop where I removed the background and experimented with stylings.


Leigh Righton, Photography

Building a Giant Book

When I pulled the box off of the new mattress we bought a few weeks ago, I noticed that the cardboard was shaped like a giant book. An idea popped into my head for an image and so I decided to build a prop from the box that was used to deliver my new comfortable sleepy spot.

I’ll be shooting the concept next weekend and will share the image once it’s all complete. In the meantime, I thought I’d show you how the book was made.

I wanted it to look vintaged, so I set off on the great big internet to source inspiration. Click here to see one of my references.

The text will be added in post along with some finishing touches, but here’s the finished book:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I bought fake brown leather for the material covering the edges as the cover and lining. It had a bit of a shine so it was sanded down with steel wool and then black washed.


I cut off a piece from an extra 6′ seamless paper backdrop to make the main two page spread. Using a tea/water solution, I wiped down the page many many times with a cloth to vintage the giant sheet of paper. Measuring out the span of the two pages, the additional length was cut off and into thin slices to make up the pages on either side of the main spread. They were run thru more tea water to add more curling to the page edges. Using a gold stamp pad, I gold leafed the edges of the paper (not noticeable, but I know it’s there) The additional filler pages were taped together at the back and then behind the main pages on either side.


In the center of the pages I added hemp rope as the gutter, which helps to separate the pages. I wanted the top page to curl in a little, I’ll have to fill that space in with a blank page in post. Other then that, I just needed to pose real cool beside it to show you the scale.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Leigh Righton, Musician, Photography

Squamish Fest- Georgia Straight Cover

Behind the scenes of the cover shoot for this week’s Georgia Straight. Featured are local musicians playing the upcoming Squamish Festival, Louise Burns, Sleepy Tom, My Gay Husband, Cityreal, and Rykka.

Check out the feature in print or online HERE.

Thanks as always to the Georgia Straight for the fun gig. Big thanks for Vicky Canning for the behind the scenes photos and to Brock McFarlane who often takes time to assist me on shoots when his real job is mastering music. Appreciation to everyone for making this come together so seamlessly.



Published inside.


Cover shot outtake.

Cover shot outtake.


BTS photo by: Victoria Canning

BTS photo by: Victoria Canning


BTS photo by: Victoria Canning

BTS photo by: Victoria Canning

Leigh Righton, Photography


For as long as I can remember I have had dreams that my life would be full of travel and ongoing exploration, adventures and experiences that would fill pages of countless journals. I’ve wanted this with every fiber of my being, and while I’ve squeezed in some noteworthy trips over the years, it hasn’t been enough to satisfy my extreme case of wanderlust. I managed to blame my lack of travel on money, circumstance, timing, jobs, relationships.. it couldn’t possibly be my own fault. It couldn’t be, until I realized that it couldn’t possibly be anything else, but my own damn fault.

Sure, I could use those excuses forever and no one would be the wiser, but why silence a lifelong desire when the pull is so persistent? Why look longingly at images of beautiful places and faces, when I could be out there experiencing them an capturing them for myself? My list of excuses worked for so long because they all seemed so very important at the time, and they must have been, because rarely did travel win over this list.

Last winter I was feeling my discontent mount as I saw endless flight deals come thru my email or pass by on social media, and my cursor would always hesitate over them. Sometimes I’d hit the buy/book button, going thru the motions of choosing dates and reading the fine print, just to give myself the feeling of heading off on an adventure, but at the end of my daydream I’d always hit “cancel” before the last step.

Travel is one of those things that I know makes me a better person, it broadens my perspective and makes me feel more connected to this beautiful world I get to live in and have the privilege of photographing. Whether a trip is good or challenging, I always gain something important from the experience. So I finally stopped with the excuses and started looking for ways to make it happen… and those ways had me returning just a few days ago from two back-to-back trips of a lifetime.

The first adventure was a road trip with a fellow photographer, Shannyn Higgins, who I had only just met months before at a group show we were both exhibiting in. A few months later I came across her post on Facebook, I responded, and miraculously it came together (although with some adjustments to her initial plans as seen below)

shannyn post


We flew to New Orleans, rented a car from there, and drove 4000 miles and crossed four states in 2.5 weeks – Luisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and Utah. It was one heck of a hustle, but Mother Nature made it worth our while tenfold.


My second adventure was an incredible 10 days in Hawaii with my favourite person (my boyfriend), visiting my awesome friend Jenn Hee, a trail runner and vegan baker.


We got to explore an extraordinary part of the world and enjoy some truly magical moments, some with my camera, some without. We planted Taro, visited goats, hiked some crazy hikes, checked out some waterfalls, swam in tide pools, snorkelled with a huge pod of dolphins… it’s hard to believe that place is real.


We became pseudo island instagram famous, becoming known as “the Canadians” thanks to Hee’s updates. We were even spotted on the Koko Head trail on our sunrise hike.

When we landed back in Vancouver the captain of the flight hopped on the loud speaker and wanted to personally welcome the passengers “back to reality”  For me, reality isn’t so bad after you’ve accomplished some great adventuring and have a lovely home and work to return to. Happy to be back in reality, and excited for some local summer exploring, until the next travel adventure!