In the Shadows: Photographer Luke Austin’s Intimate Look at Men Undressed
By Out.com Editors
Photography by Luke Austin, courtesy of Jason Vass
Los Angeles-based photographer Luke Austin will be featuring new work in his collection "Soft Instant" at Jason Vass gallery in Downtown LA. This is Austin’s first solo show and will exhibit 14 intimate male portraits, all available here to preview. Known on Instagram by many, Austin hopes to mobilize the virtual space, but also grounding the viewer in a stunning, old-school format that honors photography’s film roots.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Austin in prep for his exhibition, which will open on Saturday, March 19 from 6-9pm at Jason Vass in Los Angeles. Read below and then peruse the photos.
Out: Can you describe your process? Where do you find your models?
Luke Austin: I had specific men in mind for this project, men that I had enjoyed photographing before and who I knew would bring something to this simple method of photography. I found a dusty old 1955 medium format Kodak film camera in a vintage store in Hudson, upstate New York. What it produced were really soft, romantic, grainy, black and white photos. I enjoyed experimenting with this format. It was a refreshing change from the slick digital stuff.
Why are drawn to the male form?
In the beginning, I was drawn to the male form because that’s what I was interested in sexually. That may still actually be the answer.
What is left to say about male bodies? Or rather, what story do you have to tell?
As I developed my style, I realized my images weren’t about sexuality, but more about boyishness and a sort of non-constructed masculinity. I like taking the macho and making it gentle. My work is also more about the details. The models' gaze, how they hold their hands, their vulnerability in front of a camera. So even though I have put their body on display, the photo isn’t about the body, it's about the boy.
If you could describe the essence of your work in one sentence, what would it be?
Oh man, tough one. It’s essentially the intersection of beauty and the human experience of self-exposure.
How has Instagram played a part in your craft?
In a veeeeery big way. All the opportunities that have come my way over the past three years in America have literally come, in some way, through Instagram. I would still be shooting portraits without it, but no one would see them. Instagram really has been a stage for a lot of talented, creative people and there's a hell of a lot of people watching, which is awesome. Its also made me fall in love with the square format, so I shoot more with the Hasselblad and the Dodak Kuaflex now.
Who are some of your inspirations?
David Armstrong, Paul Jasmin, Alasdair McLellan shoot boys beautifully. Eliot Erwitt and Duane Michals do blacka and white moments really well. Ryan Pfluger does portraiture impeccably.