Luke Woodford is a creative at heart, with photography as his first passion, his work has always transcended trends. His ability to not just think outside the box but prove that there is no box at all is clear in all of his work where he pushes the bar on creativity every single time. Having been on a personal journey over the years, one that he speaks so openly and candidly about, Luke is back to claim his well earned place in the world of photography.
Here, we chatted to him more about his life over the last few years, why you should only ever compete with yourself and we found out more about his latest project…
Tell us the journey that lead you to launching your latest brand, El Luca…
Where to start? Ok, so I was married to a model and we had a brand together – Luke & Mandy. I photographed Mandy for 6 years. We released a book that was sold in Waterstones and sold our work as limited edition artworks all over the world. The plan was to release a book every 2.5 years to document the journey and as years and years would pass, hopefully our series would become iconic. That obviously ended when we split. For well over a year I was racking my brain for something that could compete. And one day it hit me. I thought I don’t need a model, I don’t need a hair stylist or makeup artist, I just need me. So I decided to just photograph myself. Knowing i’m not the most handsome guy in the world, I thought how cool and surreal it would be if I did every shoot in a morph suit, and that was it, El Luca was born! The name itself was actually kind of a joke, it just stuck! I’ve never had my work as well received as El Luca.
You’re very open about your battle with bipolar, how did you learn to live with this?
Honestly, I’m still learning. I haven’t had a proper episode to the level of getting voices in my head for over a year but I still get waves. Sometimes I just don’t know if it’s my bipolar or severe depression which I had years and years before I got diagnosed with type 1 Bipolar. Some days I feel on top of the world and that I can conquer anything. Other days getting out of bed is a genuine struggle and I feel like I just can’t carry on. The biggest tool I have is my ability to communicate and reach out to my friends when I need them. My circle is impeccable and I’m so grateful for everyone I have in my life, I wouldn’t be here without them.
The idea with El Luca was to shoot yourself over seven years and complete 250 Photoshoots. That is no mean feat, what planning goes in to each shoot?
I like to go big! Sometimes no planning at all, I just see a location, pick a coloured suit and go do it. Sometimes it’s far more complicated, props etc. I want to start travelling soon. My dream shoot is Boulders Beach in Cape Town, South Africa. There are 1000’s of penguins on the beaches and I want to do a shoot amongst them.
Looking back over the course of the last 5 years, you have overcome so much adversity. Is there anything you would do differently?
I’m always conflicted on this because part of me feels like I want to say yes, but if I changed something, then I might not be where I’m at now and for the first time in my whole life, I’ve never been more sure that I’m exactly where I need to be.
For any aspiring photograhers, what’s the biggest lesson you have learnt since going in to business?
You just gotta hustle. Stand out and create your own lane, if possible. Don’t ever see people as competition, just compete with yourself.
What advice would you offer anyone that is thinking about starting their own business?
Just never give up.
Where do you hope to see the El Luca in 5 years time?
Definitely a book or two. Action figures is a random goal of mine but could be cool. The end goal is complete world domination, although I don’t know exactly what that means just yet, I’m figuring it out..
We hear you’re having a documentary made about you. Can you tell us more about this?
Sure, we don’t want to give everything away but it will cover my personal life and El Luca. The main thing is it’s going to be completely honest and real. Just how I like it.
When lacking motivation, what’s your go-to quote?
I honestly don’t have any. I’m 1000% motivated all the time my brain is ok. When it’s not, nothing can motivate me, it’s just the way it is.