Leighton O’Connor’s strong love of the ocean must come from his Irish heritage. His Great-Grandfather was a fisherman and brought his family from Ireland to live in Salem, Massachusetts. Leighton was born in the neighboring historic seaport of Beverly and lives there now. Beverly is a quaint ocean side town located north of Boston. To the north of Beverly is the famous fishing village of Rockport and across the harbor from Leighton is the international sailboat racing port of Marblehead. Leighton’s boat and the ocean are just a quick walk from his studio and home.
Leighton has been boating up and down the East Coast since he could walk. He has raced his own sailboat in one-design competitions and has mastered the foredeck on many other sailboats. He has a passion for tall ships and has delivered schooners from the British Virgin Islands to Newport. He loves to volunteer as crew on “The Friendship of Salem”, a 175 foot square rigger that is part of the Maritime National Park in Salem.
Leighton’s photography career started when he picked up a 35mm camera at the age of 14 to photograph a football game for a newspaper. He has been involved in photography ever since. He started his career in sports photography and was added to the Sports Illustrated stringers list at the young age of 17.
Leighton expanded the passion of his craft to include travel photography after spending a month of shooting in Europe at the age of 25. His photo assignments have brought him to Ireland, France, Germany, England, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Tortola, Grenada, Alaska, Ecuador, the islands of the Galapagos and numerous locations in North America. He has photographed people on remote islands, grizzly bears, glaciers and the flora and fauna of a rainforest 15,000 miles above sea level.
Leighton’s favorite assignment to date was photographing the 32nd America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain. His true passion is shooting from Helicopters. “Nothing gives you a bigger rush then being strapped into a helicopter and shooting with the door open, cruising 50 feet above the ocean at 110 miles per an hour!”
Leighton has had numerous shows for his work and has won several awards for his nautical photographs on canvas. His work has been published in many publications and he has had many articles written about his work.
When he is not traveling, he enjoys boating, camping, hiking and roller skating with his children.