Following his retirement in June this year, photography lecturer Leon Kozyrski, received an Honorary Life Membership from the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers (AIPP).
Leon received the award for his outstanding contribution to the photography industry, with over 38 years teaching and industry experience.
His passion for photography started at an early age. Leon’s father was a professional photographer in Poland and later in Geraldton.
After receiving his award, I caught up with Leon to discuss his career achievements and what the future holds…
When did you start pursuing photography?
I was exposed to photography from the age of seven. In 1969 I was awarded a Diploma in Commercial, Industrial and Advertising Photography from Ealing Technical College, UK.
The college provided me with a solid foundation and variety of possibilities that I pursued after graduation. During my career as a professional photographer I also taught the subject in my spare time. Lecturing became more serious when I joined Mt Lawley Technical College as a part time photography lecturer in 1976. By 1978 I was accepted as a full time lecturer and my teaching career had begun. I was also accepted as a full member of Australian Institute of Professional Photography.
How long were you at Central?
During my teaching career, the college had a number of name changes (Tech, CMC, TAFE and Central) so I can say my total number of years spanned over 38 in total, between the Mt Lawley and Perth campuses. I officially retired in June 2015.
What is your biggest inspiration?
There were a few, but my biggest inspiration came from end of year graduations, where the third year students showcase their photography to their family, friends and prospective employers.
I watched these students mature and develop skills that many a professional photographer would have to try hard to match. All of our lecturers are very proud of student achievements and as for me, it was great motivator to start again the following year.
What was your biggest challenge and greatest achievement in your career so far?
My biggest challenge was moving the Photography Section from the Mt Lawley campus to the Perth campus. The wet processes were the most difficult and costly to move. Together with my team, I had to decide on which processes we had to let go.
My greatest achievement was when I established a lunchtime forum where well-known photographers could show and discuss their work to inspire and motivate students. The events were conducted in my own time and were well attended by students.
35 years and about 120 guest speakers later, this model became embedded in the curriculum of the latest Advanced Diploma of Photography. That was one of my greatest achievements over a long time span. I was also instrumental in setting up and running highly successful short courses for paying candidates. The income generated helped to fund our new digital lab and other modern equipment for the photography section.
How do you feel about receiving your life membership award?
I was surprised and delighted to be nominated for the award. For me, it was the ultimate reward for my efforts as a photographer and a lecturer at Central. My fellow lecturers and I promoted the AIPP to our students as the key organisation that would enhance their working careers.
What are your plans for the future?
My wife and I both rally enjoy travel and presently are busy planning a trip to Europe. Photography is still my passion, but family and friends are also very important in my life. In other words, I don’t have any solid plans so, for the time being, I will just go with the flow.