Lloyd Spencer was born in South Africa in 1955. As a teenager, he had developed and printed his own medium format photos using his father's antique cameras as well as his dad’s kitchen (or bathroom) darkroom. Lloyd's serious pursuit of street and documentary photography began at the beginning of the 1980s during the years in which he was a post-graduate in Germany studying Walter Benjamin, who inspired John Berger’s extraordinary TV-series Ways of Seeing. During this time Spencer had the privilege of working on Another Way of Telling with Jean Mohr and John Berger.
Spencer's first serious camera was bought for him by John Berger (in return for his help on Another Way of Telling). Benjamin’s study of the poetry of Baudelaire and the figure of the flaneur inspired Lloyd's interest in documentary and ‘street’ photography. Spencer's translation of Benjamin’s Central Park fragments and his early essay on Experience were published and Spencer has since published several other translations from the German. Later he edited The Sense of Sight, a book of essays by John Berger, and was able to continue his involvement in those discussions. During those years, Spencer also became fascinated by the painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-75) and other painters of the Dutch Golden Age.
In the 1980s he wrote about photography for publications such as Ten-8 and New Society and through that got to meet his hero, the photographer André Kertész (1894-1985). In 1981 and ’82 South Africa, Lloyd worked for Ravan Press, (Staffrider Magazine) an anti-Apartheid publishing house and was lucky enough to be mentored by his new friend, photographer Paul Weinberg. Together they worked on various projects associated with Ravan Press. Spencer collaborated with Paul as he worked to set up the Afrapix photo-agency and began organizing a huge exhibition of documentary photography from Southern Africa. Spencer would also go on to contribute photographs towards the newly established agency.
With photographer John Davies and others, Spencer helped set up a photography co-operative in Manchester in the mid-1980s. But in days of analogue photography, he found it difficult to find the time or money for serious photography. Spencer's resources went into documenting the life of his young family. Digital photography was a kind of liberation for Spencer which allowed him to become serious about photography again. During 2006-7 Spencer spent two years on a photographic study of Briggate, the pedestrianized thoroughfare which is the heart of the retail district of Leeds city centre. That project was exhibited in a huge exhibition (150+ large framed prints) in The Light as part of the celebration of 800 years of the city of Leeds (which began with the opening up of Briggate in 1207).
From 2007-9 Spencer collaborated with his friend, Stephen Griffin on a photographic study of Leeds by Night – nightlife on the streets of Leeds city centre. For almost two years Griffin and Spencer went out on the streets with their cameras till long after midnight in order to document the kind of social life that had become so vital to the economic survival of their city centres. Albion Street was the title Griffin gave to their project. In April 2012 Spencer was invited to be part of the Leeds Through A Lens exhibition at the Leeds Gallery, Munro House and simultaneously was invited (together with 6 other photographers) to put together Your Retail Soulmate, an exhibition at Arts@Trinity on BoarLane, Leeds.
He has written English in the Media (a TEFL textbook), and two graphic books of philosophy, Hegel for Beginners and The Enlightenment for Beginners. He has edited a computer magazine and been the production editor (doing layout, design, editing and production) for a number of magazines and one-off publications. More recently Spencer has been reflecting on photography on various photoblogs including Street Photography: Under Instruction and Quiet Photography. For a quarter of a century, Spencer taught students at Leeds Trinity University a range of theoretical and practical subjects.
Spencer currently offers his services as a photographer, writer, editor, designer and can teach a range of related skills.