Obscenity charge has not hurt celeb photographer Leslie Kee's career

Obscenity charge has not hurt celeb photographer Leslie Kee's career
Photographer Leslie Kee charges more than S$25,400 for a day and has worked with supermodel Naomi Campbell and pop star Lady Gaga.

Home-grown photographer Leslie Kee, 42, is living the secret fantasy of his youth.

The renowned photographer based in Japan charges upwards of US$20,000 (S$25,400) for a day's work and has photographed supermodels such as Naomi Campbell and pop stars such as Lady Gaga for magazines.

He has also shot advertising campaigns for popular brands including Japanese fashion label Uniqlo and photographed CD covers for famous J-pop singers such as Ayumi Hamasaki.

He calls a three-room luxury mansion in Tokyo's chic Aoyama district home.

In February, he made international headlines when he was arrested, charged and fined 1 million yen (S$12,842) for breaking the law in Japan by exhibiting pictures of male nudes at a Tokyo art gallery and selling books with similar images at the show. The images did not pixellate the private parts of the nude models, as required by Japanese law.

The notoriety, far from hurting his career, turned him into a champion of artistic freedom for challenging censorship laws. Since then, he has received a flood of exhibition offers from art galleries around the world.

Kee, who began shooting male nudes when he moved to New York in 2002, says he is inspired by American photographers such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Bruce Weber, whose bodies of work include nudes.

But Kee adds that it is not erotic excitement which fires him up. It is the challenge of capturing the nudes in a moment of raw beauty that gives him satisfaction.

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