Leica Masterclass : Creating Cinematic Photography in Newcastle's Urban East End

During this two day Leica masterclass with the award winning advertising photographer Alex Telfer, we will explore the urban landscape of his native Newcastle's urban east end.

Byker, in the east end of the city, is home to his photographic studio and production base. Alex’s work has always been informed by the grittier, more realistic side of photography and this masterclass will drill down on this love of urban image making.

The course will be split into three main sections, Urban Exploration and Portraiture, Urban Night Photography and Cinematic Studio Portraiture.

Participants are welcome to use their own cameras (of any brand) but are also welcome to loan Leica equipment on request (please see Participant Notes)


10am. Meet at Kingsland Church Studios in Byker, Newcastle Upon Tyne, for a presentation of Alex’s work and discussion about his twenty-eight-year career followed by an informal Q&A and breakdown of the masterclass.

Lunch served at the studio

After lunch, we will head out to explore the rich urban surroundings of Byker. Urban decay will be in abundance and Alex will guide everyone through it.

Three characters will be provided as subjects to photograph in these scenes and Alex will demonstrate his trademark style of mixing studio flash with daylight to capture people. This session will also allow for those who are more interested in the solely urban landscape element.

Following refreshments at the studio, we will head back out to the streets to shoot some dramatic night photography. With the use of a tripod, we will capture otherworldly urban scenes for a few hours.

Day one would wrap around 9pm.


9am. Coffee at Alex’s studio where we will all review session one and two from day one by projecting the work. We will spend a couple of hours discussing our efforts. Alex’s intention will be to help each participant form a greater understanding of what they have shot.

At the end of the review, Alex will show some of his studio portraiture and talk about many of the techniques that he use a lot. We will then roll directly into the third and final part of the masterclass.

Cinematic Studio Portraiture. During this session we will explore lighting techniques, composition as well as other technical considerations. We will use Alex’s own studio lighting for this part and create two set ups to alternate through. Two contrasting actors will be provided as subjects. This section will add a further dimension to this rich and varied masterclass.

The studio session will finish at around 3pm when we will roll straight into the final review of the Portraits which will once again be projected for all to see.

The two-day Leica masterclass will conclude at around 4.30pm and all participants will leave at this time.

Kingsland Church Studios
Newcastle Upon Tyne

Please bring your own laptop for editing and post-production work and Tripod for low light shooting.

Participants are asked to bring 5-10 images for review; images can be printed or supplied on a USB stick in a jpeg format.

A limited number of loan cameras are available on request.  If you’d like to borrow a Leica camera please email akademie.uk@leica-camera.com to check availability.

If borrowing Leica equipment, you will need to bring two forms of ID to the session. The first form of ID should be a passport or UK driving license and the second form of ID a utility bill showing your home address.

The workshop will include outdoor shooting, so please bring appropriate clothing and suitable protection for your camera.

Suggested Hotels for overnight accommodation:

Hotel Du Vin

The Hilton

The Crowne Plaza

Born at the very end of 1969 in Dipton, Co Durham, Alex Telfer is an Advertising, Editorial and Fine Art photographer. Born and raised in the industrial North East of England.

After initially intending to pursue a career as an Art Director or Graphic Designer, Alex was introduced to photography and he became instantly captivated from the very first experience. At the age of 18, Alex proceeded head long into the unknown world of professional photography. After graduating from Art School, Alex assisted in London before returning to his native North East to set up his own business in 1992.

Alex went on to cut his teeth in the competitive world of advertising photography, focusing heavily on the more creative side of things. It was his great love of photography that continued to inform the many creative collaborations that developed with the advertising agencies of Newcastle at the time. It became a great grounding in developing his photographic skills and gave him the springboard to realise his ambitions. It was at this time that Alex secured his first inclusion into the D+AD Annual.

The following years saw Alex begin to shoot for agencies in Edinburgh, Manchester and Leeds and this pattern continued along with his ever-growing enthusiasm for photography.

In 2003 Alex purchased a semi derelict 19th Century Church in Byker, Newcastle and set about renovating the building into Kingsland Church Studios. The Interior design was all carried out by himself and is home to a gallery, which regularly showcases Alex’s new work.  He also developed a part of the church into a Creative Hub for other small creative ventures to rent studio space.

The completion of the church cemented Alex’s creative reputation and the following years saw him acquire representation in London, New York and Paris.

In 2009, Alex was honoured with number one status in Campaign magazine’s Top 10 Photographers. It was at this time that Alex’s skills as a Commercials Director became much sought after with films for Guinness, Visa, Baxter’s Soup and Fred Perry to name a few.

Alex has always championed his decision to remain based in his native North East even when it may have made sense to relocate to London. However, he firmly believes that remaining in the North East has enabled him to retain great working relationships with Advertising agencies throughout the UK and not solely in London.

Recent commissions include campaigns for Lurpak, Guinness, Easyjet, Visa, Network Rail,

RNLI, Martini, Fred Perry, BBC and Nike.

Editorially, Alex is commissioned by the Observer, The Guardian, The Sunday Times and The New York Times.

2017 highlighted his most successful year ever for award honours. The 15th International Photography Awards (IPA) named Alex Telfer as International Photographer of the Year and Advertising Photographer of the Year.

Personal Life:

Alex lives in rural Northumberland with his wife Helen and son, James.


Leica workshops are intended for adults 18 years or older. Individuals under 18 years of age wishing to attend must be accompanied by a guardian. The guardian must make the booking on behalf of the attendee, and must notify the Leica Akademie when making the booking.

Leica reserves the right to change any prices, services or other particulars contained in its website or printed materials at any time before entering into a booking. If there is any change, the Leica Akademie will notify the attendee before entering into such a booking.

If the workshop includes lunch, attendees are asked to e-mail the Leica Akademie (akademie.uk@leica-camera.com) regarding any special dietary requirements when making the booking.

Please refer to all information provided regarding individual workshop details and requirements. Confirmation of your booking will constitute your agreement to the terms and conditions outlined.

Payment and cancellation procedures

 Where charges apply, Leica workshops must be paid for in advance by bank transfer or credit/debit card. Refunds for cancellation on the part of the attendee will be given as follows:

◦    Cancellation made up to 14 days before the workshop date – full refund

◦    Cancellation made between 8 -13 days before the workshop date – 50% refund

◦    Cancellation made up to 7 days before the workshop date – no refund

 If payment for the workshop is not received in advance, we regret that the participant will not be able to attend.

The Leica Akademie reserves the right to cancel or alter any workshop. All workshop dates and times are subject to change, but Leica will endeavour to ensure workshops are held on the committed dates/times, unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as the tutor being unable to attend due to illness, or other unforeseen circumstances. Leica will inform the participants with as much notice as possible on these occasions.

 Should a cancellation become necessary by the Leica Akademie, the attendee will have the choice of attending an alternative workshop (and where this is of a lower price, Leica will refund the difference), or withdrawing from the workshop and, where applicable, accepting a refund of all monies paid for that specific workshop to Leica Camera Ltd.

In the event that the specific tutor is unable to attend due to illness or other circumstances beyond Leica’s control, then the workshop will be cancelled, if no suitable replacement tutor can be arranged.

For complimentary workshops, the workshop will be rearranged to another date and the attendee offered a place on that alternative date.

No cancellation penalties (including travel expenses to and from the workshop, or accommodation costs) will be paid out in the event of workshop cancellations by Leica Akademie. Please check your hotel and travel cancellation policy as this may be affected in the event of a cancellation or alteration to a workshop.


Attendees are responsible for the security and safety of all items brought to a Leica Akademie workshop, and are also responsible for both their own insurance and the insurance of their own equipment. At no time should any items brought to the workshop be left unattended. Leica Camera Ltd does not accept liability for any loss, injury or accident that may occur during a workshop.

Use of Leica Akademie equipment

Please act responsibly when using any Leica Akademie equipment. We recommend, for instance, that refreshments are kept at a safe distance from all electrical appliances.


For workshops where Leica equipment is to be taken off the premises, attendees will be asked for two forms of I.D. on arrival and their full name and address, which will be kept for the duration of the workshop only. This information is required for security and insurance purposes, and will not be passed to any third parties. If two forms of I.D. are not provided, we regret that the participant will not be able to attend.

Suitable forms of I.D. are:

◦    First I.D. – a passport or UK driver’s licence

◦    Second I.D. – a utility bill or landline telephone bill showing the attendee’s home address

Outdoor workshops

If you are attending one of our workshops that involves an outside activity, please ensure you bring appropriate outdoor clothing and suitable protection for your camera.

Health & Safety and Security

In attending any workshop, you must comply with the provisions of the health and safety policy applying to the Leica Akademie, and with all conditions and regulations made in respect of the Leica Akademie by the relevant fire authority. Copies of these policies are available to view on request.

You must comply with all guidelines and policies issued to you in connection with your use of the Akademie and the equipment therein. If, in our opinion, we consider that at any time up to and during the Akademie workshop you may cause damage to people or property, we reserve the right to terminate the workshop forthwith and you shall not be entitled to any refund of your fees.

Arrival/departure times

The Leica Akademie facilities are to be found on the first and second floor of 27 Bruton Place, Mayfair W1J 6NQ. We request that you arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before the start of the workshop, due to store opening hours and prior appointments. Due to other workshops, events and activities scheduled to take place at the Leica Akademie, Leica requests that attendees leave the Akademie training room promptly at the end of each workshop.


Please note that Leica Akademie group workshops usually take place in our studio training facility, which is located at the top of 33 stairs (2nd floor) at 27 Bruton Place, as well as out on location. If you have any accessibility needs or any other special requirements to attend a workshop, please contact the Leica Akademie to let us know and we will happily discuss any reasonable adjustments with you, for example, we may be able to run the Akademie from Café Optik on the ground floor.