Friday, January 29, 2010

Interview - Lucas Allen

All photos by Lucas Allen. (HAVE you ever seen a better door colour than this in your whole entire life?!)

Beautiful still life - Lucas Allen

All photos by Lucas Allen

All photos by Lucas Allen

All photos by Lucas Allen

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!

Lucas Allen. Looking very distingished, probably in Central Park or something :)

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.

All photos by Lucas Allen

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.

All photos by Lucas Allen

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.

I’m also very inspired by artists like Caravaggio, Edouard Vuillard, Jeffrey Smart, Lucien Freud and filmmakers like Chris Cunningham, Spike Jonze, Scorcese and Almodovar.

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?

In bed. Sleeping-in is my weakness. Then I love to walk to Oslo or Marlow & Sons for a coffee. We also love having brunch at Five Leaves in Greenpoint, or Diner.

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.

All photos by Lucas Allen


  1. Great interview! I really enjoyed this one, the images are beautiful, and he sounded so relaxed and down to earth. Lovely.

  2. Love this interview but super-wanted to know the answer to this intriguing question, "Was it a long hard slog or one of those fairytale stories where you landed your dream job the day you arrived?"
    The suspense …
    Lee Tran

  3. Lucy, Lucas Allen is incredible! I had the pleasure of working with him on some campaigns before his departure to the US. I love that he is on TDF. Thanks Lucyx

  4. The images are gorgeous. I agree with Inside Out - what is the missing answer to the second question?

  5. That electric green door... love at first sight!

  6. Hey guys thanks so much for your comments and YES so sorry about that missing response.. Was finishing this post at 1.30am last night... clearly without a final proof read!! Whoops! It's fixed now... Thanks for your patience!


  7. Great interview Lucy, and like you I was hooked by that first image with the green door. Thanks!!

  8. my, oh my, oh fricken my.

    those images are amazing. the second one makes me melt.

    you see. sometimes the thing for me about styling. styling is no good unless you have someone amazing to take pictures of the result for you.

    ahh. amazing. x

  9. I too was ushered in my the photo of the green door. it's almost edible.

  10. Lucy, I think its getting close to the time when we want you to interview YOURSELF! we all want to see what YOU surround yourself with! Especially after seeing you in the paper!

  11. Hi Lucy, Is there any way of finding out about the bedroom shot that comes after the 'What would be your dream creative project' question? I am trying to track down a similar bedside table unit (so far unsuccessfully!!) and thought if I knew what mag the shot appeared in I could possibly track it down that way??? Regards, Karenute1

  12. Hey Karen...! So sorry but I am not sure which publication that shot appeared in... but I think most of this work is for overseas publications so perhaps the credits would not be that helpful anyway.

    For something similar in Melbourne I would try Angelucci Twentieth Century in Prahran, or Twentieth Century Scandinavia in Brunswick or possible The Junk Company in the city. Good luck! x