Photographer Lucas Allen emailed me out of the blue recently, with some welcome feedback and suggestions for the blog… and of course after hearing from this mysterious Melbourne creative who has carved out a name and an enviable life for himself in New York, I couldn’t help but go and do some snooping on his website…
OH my gosh. Such amazingness. I just truly fell in love with his work from the moment I set eyes on it. (Although, admittedly, much of my initial enthusiasm was focussed on that incredible fluoro-yellow painted door!- brillant!). I feel very lucky that Lucas did email me out of the blue, because as usual I was instantly inspired, and the opportunist in me quickly took over and signed him up for an interview! And now I can share him with you! And, what’s more, he is a boy! Bring on the gender-balance :) Brilliant.
Hope you enjoy hearing Lucas’ inspiring story and seeing his beautiful work! Thanks so much for your time and all the beautiful images Lucas!
Tell me a little about your background – what path led you to what you’re doing now?
I was interested in photography all through school and studied one year of a degree at RMIT. I then assisted Greg Delves and some other Melbourne photographers for 2 years, then went out on my own. I was only 21 and, in retrospect, I should have assisted for longer, but the best way to learn is on the job I guess!
Was it a long hard slog or one of those fairytale stories where you landed your dream job the day you arrived?
It amazed us, but it was actually pretty smooth sailing for the ﬁrst couple of years. It would be a different matter in the present economy, but my agent offered to sponsor me for a visa at our ﬁrst meeting. I suppose I arrived at the right time, when Australian interiors photographers were still in vogue.
I was then lucky enough to get to meet people at some big magazines who liked my work and also picked up a big furniture catalog client in Chicago, which was great bread and butter. Things have gotten quieter lately, but they’re still steady.
Where might we have seen your work? What have been some favourite shoots / clients?
I shoot for magazines like House & Garden UK, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, Condé Nast Traveller, Vogue Entertaining & Travel and Inside Out.
One of my favourite shoots recently was shooting the Mayan Riviera in Mexico for Condé Nast Traveller. A while ago I also shot a series of Australian stamps with portraits of fashion designers, which I enjoyed a lot. My favourite shoots are often more about the people I meet and work with than the ﬁnal product.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
If I’m not shooting, sadly I’ll usually be sitting in front of the computer all day! However, if I am shooting that day, I’ll walk down to my local café and get my coffee before 8.
My assistant will arrive at our apartment in Brooklyn at about 8.15, we pack the equipment, then we order a car service because you can’t book cabs in New York.
We arrive at the studio, usually somewhere in Manhattan at about 9 and unpack. The rest of my equipment will either be there already, or arrive by messenger.
There will often be breakfast supplied for the crew, or we’ll order it in. Then the Art Director and I discuss what needs to be done and I’ll suggest things. We start shooting by 9.30.
Lunch for 1/2 hour, then we continue shooting until it’s ﬁnished, which could be between 5 or 9pm, depending on how much there was or how complex it is.
My work day will often continue into the evening once I return home, where I still have to back up everything to my archive and process out the shots from the shoot. I do most of my post-production myself, as I feel that’s like the modern equivalent of a darkroom – and because I’m a control freak!
All photos by Lucas Allen
Where do you turn for creative inspiration – travel, local and international design trends, magazines, books or the web etc?
I deﬁnitely get inspiration mainly from looking – whether that be looking at spaces, exhibitions, magazines, websites, restaurants or books, it is always about keeping your eyes open and asking questions, being curious.
All photos by Lucas Allen
Which other photographers, artists or creative people do you admire?
I often feel like I can’t reel off a lot of names of people I admire, but there are some deﬁnite stand-outs in my mind. Photographically, I love the work of William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Walker Evans, Henri Cartier- Bresson, Richard Avedon, Martyn Thompson, Bill Henson, Camilla Akrans and Tim Walker.
There are always going to be people I’ve forgotten to include here, but I am terrible at remembering what moved me recently. It must be more a subconscious inﬂuence.
What would be your dream creative project?
I would love to be told, “we want you to ﬂy around the world ﬁnding the most interesting aspects of each city you visit and we’ll publish a magazine of the best images, to be designed by Fabien Baron”. Not too much to ask, surely?
All photos by Lucas Allen
I am looking forward to becoming a dad one day, and am also looking forward to getting married to my ﬁancé, Ali, hopefully later this year. I’m also really excited about going snowboarding in Colorado in a month, followed by a shoot in Lake Tahoe and possibly a trip to Oaxaca in Mexico to get some warmth in my bones. It’s been a cold winter.
NYC Questions –
Where do you live in New York and what do you love about your local neighbourhood?
We live in Williamsburg in Brooklyn. It is thought of as being hipsterville and it’s true that there are a lot of painfully cool people around here, but it truly is a great part of New York. There is so much to do here and a lot of creative people around, so we ﬁnd ourselves not needing to leave our little area very much. We also just moved to our dream apartment, which has a good amount of space and has beautiful views over the East River towards downtown Manhattan. We wake up with the city.
The view from Lucas’ Brooklyn apartment… swoon! – photo by Lucas Allen
Top 3 things/places you would recommend to anyone visiting the Big Apple?
We always take visitors to the Top of the Rockefeller Center, which is the best view of the city, because it includes The Empire State Building and Central Park. Take a walk on the Highline, the city’s newest outdoor space, starting near the Chelsea galleries and ending up in the Meatpacking district. Also, you have to do the Brooklyn Bridge on a bike and end up in Dumbo.
Incredible view from the Rockefeller Center in manhattan – photo by Lucas Allen
Where would we ﬁnd you on a typical Saturday morning?
New York’s best kept secret?
Doughnut Plant on Grand Street. Think Valrhona chocolate glazed, or the peanut butter and jelly ﬁlled with organic strawberry jam. Amazing.