I came across Lee Jeffries' work on Flickr several months ago. While I am normally turned off by heavily processed portraits, these seemed somehow different. These weren't just processed for the sake of the process any more than they are just simple portraits. These are something more.
Jeffries is a self-taught photographer that resides in England. His gear is simple. He uses an "old and knackered Canon 5d mark 1, 24mm f1.4l lens and a small hand held reflector." He does all his processing in Lightroom and CS4. When I asked him about his workflow he laughed. "If I had a dollar for each time that has been asked. Fact is I process in an entirely haphazard way. I never get the same result twice. The only thing I can offer in terms of advice there is learn how to dodge and burn correctly. Through the shadows/midtones and highlights. Its that painstaking process that develops contrast at local levels and its that process that many find too tedious and time consuming."
Unfortunately Jeffries has no behind-the-scenes videos of his work process. However, he does have a very candid interview with one of his homeless subjects (a bit NSFW for language).
Though many of Jeffries' subjects are homeless, it begins to be a difficult task to separate out just who is and who isn't destitute. His images strip away class, age, gender and race and leave us with a glaring view of the human soul. It's as beautiful as it is terrifying. But the feeling I am surprisingly left with is one of hope.