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West Jordan Journal

Steven Leitch finds art through the lens and with prose

Aug 01, 2018 01:48PM ● By Jana Klopsch

A simple blue door can provide wonderful art in the eye of a great photographer. (Steven Leitch)

By Bob Bedore | [email protected]

It’s true that art can be found in just about anything, but what about medical photography? We’ll get to that in a moment. 

For West Jordan resident Steven Leitch, art has always been a love. It started with poetry. 

“I learned at a very early age that girls like poetry,” Leitch said as he thought about where artistic endeavors started to work their way into his life. But he found a much deeper meaning once the words started to come to him. “There is something very fascinating about taking a blank sheet of paper and doing something on it that moves someone.” 

And move people he does. But don’t look for his poems to carry a lot of rhymes; he prefers to just hit with emotion. 

“There are two types of poets in my mind,” he said. “There are those that live poetry and those that are word crafters. I’m a word crafter.” And one of his favorite targets is life in the military.

As a photographer in the Air Force, Steven could see a lot of things and talk to many who faced the hardships of service. He has worked that into his poetry and is nearly done with his first book of military poems, each of them very heartfelt and meaningful.

“I write poetry for people who normally don’t read poetry,” Leitch said. “It’s more conversational and easy to understand. I try to throw in metaphors and the like, but you know what I’m saying. I want it to be readable.” 

One poem, “Dear John,” tells the story of a soldier in Vietnam who gets dumped in a letter, and it actually makes war and killing easier for him because he can use that pain. It helps him stay alive, but in the end it remains very open as to whether coming home will be good or bad for him. 

His other artistic outlet is with his camera. After his photography work in the Air Force, he was able to turn that around and got a job with the University of Utah Medical Center as a medical photographer, a job he kept for 37 years before retiring. During that time, he captured images that are part of history, including the separation of the Hansen Siamese Twins and Barney Clark, the first recipient of a permanent artificial heart. 

Leitch began to grow as an artist with his camera. And just like his poetry, he wants it to be just what he sees. 

“A lot of people try to do too much with Photoshop and other things to get their pictures where they like them,” he said. “I just want to have people see what I saw. I shoot what I like.” 

Doing that has achieved some great results. Leitch has had exhibitions of his work and sold some of the images. One of his favorites being “Bryce Tree,” an image that caught his eye on a walk.

Today, Leitch volunteers on the West Jordan Arts Council and is a curator of the Schorr Gallery. 

Advice that he’d give for anyone looking to get into the arts? “Pursue it,” he said without hesitation. “Find a pursuit, a release and make it something you enjoy.” 

Art comes from the heart. And in a case like Steven Leitch, it can actually come from taking pictures of the heart.