“I sort of get influenced for photography by means other than other photographers,” says Luker. “I mean there are definitely photographers who I look at who I really love like William Gedney, William Eggleston, Joel Sternfeld, Robert Frank, Nan Goldin and so on…but I really get inspired by books, films, music”.
Perhaps he can take that a little too far. Over the summer he admits that he was so mesmerized by Terrence Malick’s all-encompassing Tree of Life that he almost walked into an oncoming car. However that blurred intoxication has made its way into his work, visually blending documentary, grand landscapes and personal narratives.
“All of the work I shoot for my own projects is strictly documentary work, I just travel around and take photos of the people I am with or what I see on the road. For the commercial, editorial and fashion stuff you have to give some direction, but I try to make it as natural as I can, giving people scenarios or things to do that are real and that yield real reactions and then try to shoot this stuff in a documentary way. It is sometimes hard, cause I think its easy to have things look forced and I have no interest in making those kinds of photographs.”
It’s this approach that has led to work on commercial campaigns for Levi’s and other notable brands, however finding that balance between creative integrity and commercial viability is something that the Boston-based photographer considers to be a challenge in a field so heavily occupied with rising stars.
“Everyone wants to be a photographer, an artist or a musician. It’s hard to figure out who gets picked to make it or why or how you can even sift through the endless streams of photographers and artists out there on the internet. There is definitely a lot of talented people who slip under the radar, the truth is I think there just isn’t enough bread to go around. I feel incredibly lucky to have a little money in my pocket from doing what I love, but before this recent interest in my work I was as poor as I’d ever been, sleeping on floors, trying to figure out which piece of camera gear to sell off next to make rent, its been tough as hell for work in this recession and you start to feel pretty scared for the future when you have a college degree but cant even get hired for a job cleaning up dog shit at a kennel (true story).”
You can view Jeff Luker’s work by visiting his website.