I HEART WORK
Who are you: Lucas Allen
What is your work: I am a Photographer
Where can we find you: Website, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram
Describe your work in 5 words? Travel, shoot, edit, sleep, repeat.
Can you tell us a little about what you do? I shoot mainly interiors, still-life, travel, food and portraits. I shoot a lot for magazines, but also advertising and catalogues.
What took you on the road to being a photographer? My father was a Graphic Designer, so I got a sense of what a Photographer does through his work with them. I did as much in high school as I could and was hooked from about 15 years old. It appealed very much to my love of observation and gadgets. I spent a lot of my youth in a darkroom, I even had one set up in my bedroom for a year and I used to work through the night because it wasn’t light-tight enough during the day.
Where are you based, where is your office/studio and what is the view out of your window? I have a studio in Melbourne, Australia, where my family lives, and I also keep an office in New York where I was based for 7 years. My office in New York is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and looks out over the bridge and the East River. My studio in Melbourne is shared with 2 other photographers and is large, bright and a bit rough around the edges, but we like it. The view is not a patch on New York, though!
What is the first thing you do when you get to work? On non-shoot days I try to ride my bike as much as I can to work, so I will carry my bike up the stairs, often juggling a coffee (my life’s constant!) in the other hand, and I then sit down in front of a computer for way too many hours. If it’s a shoot day I will have usually driven my car, met my assistant and started packing gear for the job.
Describe a typical day at work. I travel a huge amount, so I will often be staying in an unfamiliar hotel in an unfamiliar place, so I will get up early enough to get my bearings and find the best local coffee place, work out how best to get to my shoot and arrive on time. Then I will meet with the creative director and stylist to discuss what we’ll be doing that day in more detail (there has usually been some brief beforehand, but not always). Then I will speak with my assistants and digital tech and go over our approach, maybe grab a quick bite of a muffin, or fruit or something, and get started.
What are the tools of your trade and what camera do you like to use? I shoot on a few different cameras depending on the job. For studio based stuff and for larger printed pieces I use a Hasselblad H4X with a Phase One digital back. For travel work and location work, I use a Canon 5D Mk III. I use that camera also for my video work. For my personal travel work, I carry a Leica M6 which I shoot film on. My favourite gadget, which isn’t a camera, is my carbon-fibre Gitzo tripod with a Manfrotto 405 geared head…it is truly the best tripod.
What can’t you work without? Obviously a camera - but these days it’s my Macbook Pro laptop because I am nearly always shooting tethered to the computer or editing immediately afterwards.
Why do you love what you do? Some days I have to remind myself how lucky I am because the business side can get you down sometimes. When I’m really in the zone and I feel like what I’m picturing in my head is what I’m getting, that is magical to me. The fact that I get to travel all over the world, meet fascinating people and get to take pictures for a living is a blessed position to be in.
One shoot you won’t forget and why? I was asked by Le Méridien Hotels to travel to Paris and just to shoot the city in an unusual way. What a dream brief! I’m a bit of a Francophile too, so that was right up my alley!
Who or what inspires you? I am inspired by light, simplicity and colour. My favourite photographers inspire me: William Egglestone, Stephen Shore, Henri Cartier-Bresson. I love discovering new neighbourhoods and just walking around taking pictures, something I don’t get to do as often as I’d like.
What is the best advice you have received? Always have a camera on you and shoot all the time. This is advice I don’t heed and kick myself constantly when I don’t. My iPhone just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid.
One moment in your career you will always remember? The opening night of my first (and only) solo exhibition was a proud moment. I’d like to feel that again.
What is the best part of your job? Travel
And the worst? Travel
What’s your proudest career achievement? The first time I shot in one of the big rental studios in New York, with the Empire State out one window and the Statue of Liberty out the other, I just remember thinking, “wow, is this real?”
What are you working on at the moment? I have just returned from California shooting for Williams Sonoma Home, I’m putting together a new promotional mailer piece, and I’m working on a short film for my reel which is based on an Australian furniture company ‘Mark Tuckey’.
Which phrase do you overuse? “That’s nice!”
What single thing would improve the quality of your life? The ability to totally relax and not think about work.
What have you learnt the hard way? Unprocessed film doesn’t like going through x-ray machines more than four or five times.
If you could do another job what would you like to do and why? I have often pondered this question because I have no university degree or many other skills. Maybe I would teach or do something like furniture design.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to do what you are doing? Find a topic, subject or place and shoot the s##t out of it! You’ll have a strong body of work before you know it.
If you could be someone for a day who would it be? I think Mark Newson has a pretty amazing life.
How do you spend your downtime? I like to spend time with my wife and son, entertain friends, swim in the ocean, eat good food and drink nice wine and listen to all sorts of music.
What would you like to be doing in five years time? I would love to be financially comfortable enough to be busy with more focus on personal work and art-based projects, and less on purely bread-and-butter stuff.
If you had an extra hour each day what would you do with it? I would love to say I would use it to get fit, but I would probably use it to just sit quietly by myself.
What’s your personal motto? I don’t have one.
How would you like to be remembered? As a good bloke who loved, was loved, and was above average in quite a few areas!
Thank you Lucas for talking to The Lifestyle Editor.