Interview with… Jeff Luker

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Photos by Jeff Luker

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Jeff Luker was born in Bellingham, Washington, the son of a mountaineer and a dairy farmer.

After growing up on a small farm in rural Massachusetts he went on to study filmmaking and photography at Emerson College in Boston. Following his education he moved to New York where he acted as first assistant to Ryan Mcginley. His work is based on the ideas of youth, freedom, love, memory and dreams. He is a festival-nominated filmmaker and his photographs have been shown internationally.

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1) Can you tell something about you?

I was born on a blue moon.

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2) What first attracted you to the medium of photography?

I was born with a photographic memory, this is how I try to deal with it.

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3) What experiences and photographers have influenced the way you work?

All of life is just one experience ultimately influencing the way we make work, I am endlessly inspired by the works of others.

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4) How was working with Ryan McGinley?

It was a beautiful experience that I learned a lot from. Ryan is a pure photographer and probably the most dedicated artist I’ve ever met.

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5) What was the best bit of advice you got at Emerson college ?

The best advice was probably in terms of media consumption. The idea that the media you absorb, like films, books, photos, art etc. should be viewed as a diet of sorts, if you feed yourself junk (i.e. sitcoms, bad romantic comedies, empty paperbacks, etc) it affects your mind the same way a bad food diet would your body. It may be easy to consume and readily available but the stuff that will make you feel and work better is the media that will challenge your way of thinking.

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6) How much of your life there is behind your photos?

It’s all very personal work, so sometimes its weird to see photos of my friends and family on the internet, but I’ve tried to separate myself from it, and look at it objectively. Some photos I take have a haunting truth to them that capture the essence of how I feel about a person or place. Those are probably the most successful ones. Of course there are certain images that are private and not for anyone else to see.

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7) What do you think about street photography?

Street photography is the rawest form of photo in my mind, especially the people who are very covert about it. I was just looking at Mitch Epstein’s The City which I think is a good example of street photography at it’s finest. Eggleston is a personal favorite of mine as well. And of course Robert Frank is the master.

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8.) I saw you use more film instead of digital. There is a reason, or it’s just your taste?

I’ve always been attracted the aesthetics of film. I shoot digital sometimes for jobs or whatever, people want you to shoot digital now because of the affordability and immediacy of it. And digital photography can be very successful depending on the subject or idea but for the most part I honestly don’t care for it. Film will always have a beauty to it that cannot be reproduced, its elemental and the process of exposing light to silver is like magic. Every exposure is a small work of magic.

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9) What does it mean for you polaroid? Can you describe some of your polariods inside your website?

I love polaroid. It’s heartbreaking what has happened to it recently. I usually travel with a polaroid camera, it has a distinct quality. The polaroids on my website are just various photos from throughout the years. The first one is one of my favorites. My friend Christina and I went into this church in Boston because you can play the organ when its not in use. And they had constructed this prism in the ceiling that shot a rainbow over this stark white interior.

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10) What relationship do you have with your subject when you take a photo?

I usually have to be comfortable with the person before I’ll shoot the photo, but at the same time my favorite photos are always images where the person is not aware of the camera and it appears candid.

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11) When did you discovered your personal style?

I think I’m still discovering it everyday. It’s one of those things where the more you shoot the more you will find what images you like and then you start to understand your own process better.

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