Easy Conversation: Luca J. Sage

We first stumbled upon the work of British photographer Luca J. Sage here and were immediately drawn to the beautiful and sophisticated honesty of his art. A lover  - and crafter- of beautiful images, Luca is also an avid football fan whose dreams include snapping shots of some of Europe's biggest football stars! We had a chat with him and it went a little something like this.

1.Tell us a bit about yourself, who is Luca Sage?

I’m a photographer based in the UK. I have a fairly clean and graphic style. I tend to work fairly slowly with a large format camera. (It’s the old fashioned sort of camera where you have to put your head under a big dark cloth.) I specialize in portraits and my work has been exhibited around the World, including the National Portrait Gallery in London. 

2.When did you first fall in love with photography?
Unlike many photographers, I didn’t get a camera when I was 5yrs old. My Dad eventually let me take one picture with his Canon SLR when I was about 12 years old.  I remember it clearly, we were on holiday in Scotland and I had pestered him for days to use his camera. He always thought I would drop it for some strange reason. I had a great dilemma about when to use my ‘one shot’ and to this day I’m gutted that I didn’t stand further back to get more foreground into the shot. Later when I was a teenager I used to cut images out of The Independent Magazine and stick them on my bedroom wall. They had a fantastic picture editor called Colin Jacobson, who really set my passion alight for contemporary photography. My Dad eventually gave me his old Canon camera and I’m pleased to say I never ever dropped it.

3.Tell us about your creative process? Who / what inspires you?
My first degree probably underlies a lot of the work I do. I studied Social Anthropology and Development Studies and my photography often entails trips abroad. I’ve always been interested in the way we interact in this world; unfortunately history reveals that we are forever in conflict. We are bombarded by mass media with images of war. In some small way I try to readdress this visual balance. My work is purely visual responses to cultures that for one reason or another are in my consciousness. I’ve shot projects in Serbia, Lithuania, Northern Ireland and Cote d’Ivoire. Empires and governments come and go but what always exists is the individual. This is probably why I love portraiture.

I don’t often take pictures of anything I don’t love. I slow things down and show a perceived essence of a person, but at the same time there is always a dialogue going on between the photographer, the sitter and the viewer. What you see is just my view, it’s not any sort of truth. I just stop time and say ‘hey, look at this, I love this.’

4.Growing up what did you want to be / do?
I always wanted to be a footballer, in fact I lived and breathed football. I was actually doing really well and playing for Chelsea Under 15’s but everything else seemed suddenly so much more attractive when I was a teenager and it wasn’t to be. Though my dream of playing for Arsenal has gone, my love of football still remains. My dreams now consist of big commissions to shoot footballers like Fabregas and Messi for Nike or Adidas.

5.Who are some of the artists who've influenced your work?

There are quite a few but namely Paul Graham, Rineke Dijkstra, Broomberg and Chanarin, Stephen Shore, Mark Power, William Eggleston and Simon Norfolk. They are all amazing photographers and I was lucky enough to have one of them as my tutor.

6.What projects are you working on these days?

I’ve just come back from a road trip in America and I’m currently shooting a commission for the Photographers Gallery in London. After that I will be going on another journey with my 5x4 camera, I have two options but can’t decide which one to go for, time to toss the coin. Or maybe I’ll roll the dice and do a twitter vote. I tweet far too much but it’s a great photographic resource for me. I’ve met some great people through my @lucajsage twitter family.

7.What's playing on your Ipod these days?
Right now it’s paused on Florence and the Machine with Dizzee Rascal, ’You’ve Got theDirty Love’. I love listening to Florence when I’m in the studio; I think I’m a bit addicted.

Luca J. Sage elsewhere

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