The active pursuit of Panth3rz Photography
“I wasn’t born with a gold spoon in my mouth. My parents are the type to always sacrifice and put me and my siblings first. Doing what I can when I want to, seeing something and being able to purchase it, and most importantly, giving back to my family: That’s why I do this,” explained portrait photographer Leshaun Panton.
Born and raised in Mandeville, Manchester, Panton stems from humble beginnings. He told Beyond the Lens, that while he was a shy person growing up, he always had a love for the arts.
“Some of my earliest memories were spent drawing cars and doing creative little things. I am from a family of five and the support has always been there.”
His life-changing story dates back to the summer of 2012. While away for the holidays, Panton was given a third-generation Apple iPod Touch as a gift. He quickly commenced his experiment with the device’s camera feature. His brother, who noticed the photos being taken, marvelled at its artistry. Curious, he asked, “How did you take that?” Little did Panton know that he would be paving his way to an exciting career as a photographer.
When he returned to Jamaica after that vacation, he continued clicking away. He was later introduced to his father’s Canon PowerShot camera, taking charge when it wasn’t in use. This is where he honed his skills as a photographer. Capturing landscape, nature, and everything in between, he enjoyed the creativity and liberation that came along with the art form. What others found difficult, he could picture effortlessly.
“I got my first professional camera in July of 2015 and Panth3rz Photography and Graphic Design was born.”
Four years later, the 22-year-old specialises in portrait photography.
“It opens the canvas for me to paint my creativity and tell a story. It is also the most frequently requested for my business.”
Like any other entrepreneur, there comes a point when you have to select the right name to represent your brand. Wanting a name that was close to his surname, but unique in its own regard, the word ‘Panther’ struck a chord with him. He consulted his brother, who suggested that he make the name stand out even further, by swapping out the ‘e’ for a ‘3’ and switching the ‘s’ with a ‘z’. Panton added that surprisingly, the black panther mirrors his personality – humble, quiet and stealthy, but when it’s time to dominate, he does just that!
This image ‘panther’ has jumped a few hurdles in his race to greatness. Time management (or lack thereof) presented a roadblock for the entrepreneur who balances his profession with pursuing his Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies at the Northern Caribbean University. He has since developed a formula, choosing classes to fit around his business schedule and vice versa.
Another obstacle has to do with bookings.
“My portfolio wasn’t as big as it is now, and I had to convince many of my worth, but you win some and lose some. Nevertheless, I continued to shoot until my work spoke for itself. For those that believed in me, I am truly grateful.”
Then, when he least expected it, he was confronted by the misconceptions from outsiders.
“Individuals think that we are magicians. Persons think that photographers can edit everything in a photo. Like making a big person look slimmer than they actually look. I usually tell them that the camera picks up what it sees, and this usually ends with laughter from the client and myself.”
In addition, persons believe that photographers are superhumans in terms of the return time for photos. As long as a photo shoot is, post-production, he declares, will more than likely be longer.
“I have a set delivery period in my contract that clients have to sign and agree to.”
Panton remains inspired by his hunger for change, basking in the satisfying feeling of creating a concept and bringing it to reality, while soaking in more lessons than he could ever imagine. One of the biggest is confirming the notion that you can achieve once you believe, because nothing is impossible. Panton, who is also a huge fan of producing quality images, finds power in thinking things into being, setting goals, working hard, and making tasks or dreams a reality.
“Each business has its pros and cons just like anything in life, but I can surely say that this journey has definitely been rewarding and life-changing.”
Aside from motivation from family and close friends, the late rapper and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle was also a big inspiration to him. He still is. Even in passing, his truths live on.
His most memorable shoots include a Russian couple who desired honeymoon photos in Jamaica. The young entrepreneur thought it to be a scam, but went through with the trek to St Ann, capturing their post-nuptials at Dunn’s River Falls.
“Those photos are some of my best wedding shots to date,” he reminisced. He also mentioned participating as a model with photographer Adrian McDonald (Lexon Art) on a recent project. He was able to chat and gain insight from the expert as well as to shutter in a few shots for himself. And working with client Rochele Spencer (Yourstruly Rochele), he says, has been amazing.
Outside of photography, Panton owns his clothing line, Panth3rz Apparel, and is always thrilled to feed his interest in automotives by attending car shows. He sings on his church choir, too, and loves to socialise with friends and family.
“What I would say to anyone who wants to be a photographer but doesn’t know where to start is to first identify their purpose for photography, whether it’s a hobby or a profession. Once that is done, if there is access to a camera, keep shooting and never stop, or even if a smartphone is used, still use it. A good photo is seen with the eye, but is taken with a camera to capture and cherish that memory. Work hard, be patient and remain humble. It always seems impossible until it is done.”
Persons can find Panton on Instagram at: Panth3rz Photography, Facebook: Panth3rz Photography and Graphic Design, Call: (876) 367-9828 or find him on LinkedIn: Leshaun Panton