Luke is the first photographer i’ve come across who uses a social media hub called flavors.me. It’s a pretty cool idea to aggregate all those social media profiles we seem to be collecting. Luke has an extensive portfolio which is worth a look. Enjoy.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up near Toronto, Ontario in Canada but I moved to the US when I was a teenager because of family’s business. I have lived on and off in Buffalo and Niagara Falls NY most of my life, but I have bounced around a lot for work over the years, Often spending a lot of time in Toronto, NYC, Philadelphia, and other large markets on the east coast.
What made you get into photography?
I really got into it in high school, but I had a camera around a lot when I was younger. One of my Brother’s ex’s had a father who worked for Kodak Canada, so I used to end up with cameras and film a lot as a kid when they would babysit me (There is a 16 year age difference between me and my brother) I remember shooting a lot of old kodak disc film at the time, mostly just point and shoot stuff that a little kid would take. In high-school I started the learn the more technical aspects of photography, in a pretty traditional wet-process environment. Strictly black and white film and printing and it was during this time that I got really into photography, I started looking at photography schools and eventually settled on the Rochester Institute of Technology for college, I ended up getting a solid technical education there that carried through the transition from film and wet process to a fully digital workflow, so I was lucky enough to be one of the last groups of photographers to get a solid education in both mediums.
How did you get started?
After I graduated from RIT I spent a lot of time working on really un-fulfilling jobs usually shooting stills and copy work, or styling food, stuff that I ultimately found boring and that I had no passion for. But I kept drilling away at them because I thought it was what clients wanted to see. Eventually I just burnt out and quit, gave up completely and went to work for a manufacturing firm in hopes of a stable pay check.
Over time I slowly started to shoot again, but just for fun. I was shooting my own ideas and subject matter that interested me, and I found that I still loved photography, I just realized that I burnt out the first time because I was not being true to myself. and that I hated the work I was turning out. This time I was shooting with passion and rediscovering my love. Over time I was able to transition back into the professional realm of photography through assisting again and pushing my own work.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
Portrait work, a lot of my work touches the realms of beauty, and some fashion, but my main interests are in taking those skills and ideas you see in conceptual fashion and beauty photography and applying them to real people in a stylish way. Some of my favorite images are of people I know or people in my community that I can tell a story about using stylish and modern approaches. And if I can do that with a little bit of flavor and style I am pretty happy at the end of the day. My clients have been pretty wide ranging; from boutique fashion and jewelry designers, to artists and musicians, news and editorial outlets, and corporate clients in the medical industry.
What gear are you using?
Whatever is right for the job!
But in all seriousness I like to keep a pretty tight kit that includes a Canon 5D mk2, a fuji x100 for candids and behind the scenes images, and my iPhone. But depending on the needs of the project I also use medium format digital backs or large format cameras when it is warranted. I don’t believe that the tools are a defining factor anymore in this industry, what is far more important in the individual and their vision/interpretation of the subject at hand.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
I pretty much have always used the same two lenses for most of my work. A Canon 50mm f/1.4 and a Canon 70-200mm f/4L. I think my favorite is the 50 Prime. It is such an analog simple lens, there is something about making images with it that seems very satisfying to me, actually having to move to control distance, the simplicity and speed of focus, and the manageable size. It is one of the most basic lenses, which in my eyes, makes it one of the most interesting and versatile to work with.
How are you marketing yourself?
Ultimately I think that its all about those face to face and real world meetings. In the end, all my marketing is about starting a relationship with a potential client or collaborator. I use some of the traditional methods like e-mail promos, print mailers, digital portfolios, minibooks. etc. But I also try to experiment and mix it up, I am working on some event based marketing as well as some new formats for print marketing. I think that my blog has been a great tool in getting attention for my work as well, showing some different sides of my personal outlook while giving me a channel to share news and work.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
It tends to be that whatever my most recent image may be is usually my favorite for a few days, after that I tend to move on, focusing on the next project. I am a lot more concerned with developing new techniques and looks and pushing my subject matter. I think that relying too much on past successes or old work can lead to complacency creatively. I always want to be growing, always moving forward. So instead of a favorite piece, here is an sneak peak from a currently unreleased project.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Just get your work out there. Show it to everyone who will look at it, don’t worry if your website isn’t perfect, or your book could be a little tighter. You can change it and show them again six months down the road. You are always going to be growing and changing as a creative person, but you can fret away forever over making the perfect website to present your work. If you don’t show it to someone, how will they ever find out about you? Get that work in front on their eyes, and learn from their reactions and responses, both positive and negative. You have to be a little fearless about it.