Biography - Len Metcalf

Leonard Murray Metcalf is an internationally collected fine art photographer who is based in Sydney, Australia. Vivid and detailed photographs are the result of utilizing large format cameras, while his expertise in outdoor pursuits gives him access to unfrequented places in remote wilderness areas located around the world.

Len was born at Katoomba Hospital, to Shirley and Murray Metcalf. He is the youngest in the family with two elder sisters Susan and Robyn. Leonard’s first years were spent in Leura, surrounded by the beautiful Blue Mountains Wilderness. His parents moved to Willoughby, where he spent his teenage years. Murray is known in the Blue Mountains for his skills in machinery repair, and owned the watchmakers / repairers shop at the top of Katoomba Street (where Theo Poulos Real Estate is currently located) in the sixties and early seventies.


Len’s love for the visual arts comes from his parents, who are both artists in their own right. Shirley paints in watercolours and on silk while Murray a printmaker by trade who printed woodblocks and engravings. Murray loves cameras, photography and camera repair. He gave Leonard his first box camera when he was ten. Latter Murray gave Len an Olympus OM1, which became Leonard’s favourite camera during his teenage years where he focused on the macro environment. This camera is still being used today by Len. For his eighteenth birthday Murray gave Len a Bronica with which he practiced portraiture. Latter came other cameras such as the Speed Graphic Len’s first Large Format Camera.


Leonard’s formal education in photography was at the City Art Institute, formally Alexander Mackey College, and now the College of Fine Arts part of the University of New South Wales. Leonard studied under such fine teachers as George Schwartz, Lynn Robberts-Goodwin and Eardily Lancaster. It was here that Leonard shinned as a photographer, and once introduced to the magic of large format cameras, started his career as a Fine Art Photographer. In 1988 he photographed his first canyons, both Claustral Canyon and Grand Canyon, and it was here that he started mastering canyoning photography. Leonard graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Visual Arts majoring in Photography. He finished his final year with straight distinctions in photography, and being awarded “The Most Advanced Colour Photographer” in the graduating students exhibition. His work was showcased at the Ivan Dohetty Gallery as one of the outstanding graduate artists of the year.


Len returned to the Blue Mountains after his years in the Middle East, where he worked as a University Lecturer and delivered a Bachelor of Teaching to the Kuwait Ministry of Defense. It was with his return to the Blue Mountains that Leonard revitalized his passion and expertise for fine art photography. Leonard comments on how his photography had matured: ‘I was amazed that after a fifteen year break with the view camera, I still had managed to improve my technique and perhaps more accurately develop a stronger compositional awareness. My art had matured.’ He now explores wild places at every opportunity and patiently waits for the perfect weather to take his beautiful photographs. Leonard is an active environmentalist, and encourages minimal impact practices in the wilderness, and in the wider community. He hopes that his photographs will encourage you to do the same.


Leonard is widely recognised as a master fine art photographer. He follows in the footsteps of Adams, Weston, Porter, Dombrovskis and Tuncanas, able to work equally poetically in both colour and black and white. He has started photographing UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world, though has many more to visit. His photography has been widely published and his artworks appear in many private collections in Australia, America, The United Kingdom, Europe and New Zealand. We will hear more about Leonard Metcalf in the years to come, with each artwork fast becoming collectors items.


Leonard has been practicing photography for many years. Thirty years of practical experience is complemented with a Bachelor of Arts in Photography, a graduate diploma in Art Education and a Masters Degree in Adult Education. Leonard has been teaching and facilitating adult learners for over 20 years, and specializes in teacher education, outdoor recreation and photography.


Leonard’s knowledge of photography is comprehensive, covering many areas of the medium from colour through to black and white. Leonard not only has a grounding in photography and education, but also as a tour and adventure guide, making him highly suited to guide you on your next photographic adventure. Leonard’s teaching is exemplarily , he has been training teachers for the past 15 years (University Lecturer for the School of Adult Education at UTS), and vocational teachers for TAFE NSW.


Over the past ten years Len has been teaching, guiding and mentoring photographers, including tours into The Blue Mountains. Len has developed a sound business providing photography education and photography tours to a growing list of devoted beginners, amateurs and professional photographers.