Behind the Lens—Luca Werner

I’ve been thinking a lot about this interview and about the way I could start this article. I simply wasn’t sure how to present Luca Werner and his work in a way you would be able to fully feel his passion. Talking with him is one thing, but discovering his work through my writing is another, and I feel like there are no words good enough to present you this creative person.

A photographer, a thinker, a filmmaker—Luca does it all. Mostly focused on skateboarding and the little moments of life, Luca try to capture the details and the emotions of a specific time with his camera. His motivation and his commitment to his art is something that I am incredibly impressed by, especially for someone still so young. His Instagram, where you can mostly see all his latest photographs, is a collection of his favourite photos combined with quotes he picked with attention one-by-one, hoping to share the exact feeling he felt while capturing the moment. 

Through the quotes he chooses, the moments he captures and the way he thinks, we can easily say that Luca is way more than just a photographer; he’s an artist. And as I’ve said earlier, I don’t think my words would be good enough to make you understand who Luca truly is. So, because we’re totally obsessed with his work, here’s our interview with Luca Werner.

Read it. Observe. And Feel.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?
At the age of 15, I was really focused on snowboarding. When I was at school, I was daydreaming of the weekend so I could go back to the mountains. At the time, I wanted to become a professional snowboarder so I was constantly pushing myself with the hope of progressing more and more. I knew that people that wanted to have a snowboarding career were usually living five minutes away from the mountains and I knew that compared to me, 1 hour away from it, they had more chances to make it happen. While pushing myself was a good thing, I ended up broking my collarbone three times and got a notice from the doctor that I should not snowboard for the rest of the season. This accident made me realized that I could not go on like this.

So, another door opened and it was for photography. I’ve decided that instead of being the one on the board, I would be the one capturing the moment. I bought my first camera at 16, started documenting my friends snowboarding and skateboarding. To me, photography was a great discovery as I could travel to my favorite spots, meet new interesting people and work as a freelancer, which always sounded fun to me.

So, you simply bought yourself a camera and learned by yourself?
Exactly. I’ve been lucky because I’ve met a bunch of people that also work in photography and joined their studio in Munich. This studio, which we call The Stu, is pretty much like a co-working space and they also have a scholarship program that is meant to help you in your art. This program personally helped me to get my first steps into commercial photography and film, without closing my mind to other things.

Are you shooting analogue or digital?
I mostly shoot with a digital camera, but I really enjoy editing my photos in an analogue style. What I like so much with digital cameras is that I can just shoot, like plenty of photos, without worrying too much. It helped me a lot to progress because afterwards I have about 30 photos and I can see exactly which perspective or angle looks good. And then, I learn again.

Being currently in New Zealand, what do you want to focus on more while traveling? Skateboarding, lifestyle, surfing?
I didn’t think much about it but I mostly always document what I am currently doing. I would like to surf a lot as there are a bunch of places where I could learn how to surf. I am not sure which direction I am taking, but we’ll see. 

I think I just need to focus on my work completely, without forgetting to live. That’s also part of the reason of why I am where I am right now. Sometimes, people ask me to go to a party and I always say no because it doesn’t make sense for me. It doesn’t take me anywhere, you know? I rather spend my time in front of my computer, editing videos and photos, instead of wasting one night just for some fun. It’s not worth it. It’s important for me to stay focus on my goals and on my dreams.

I think you’re totally right. If you want to get something in life, especially at a young age, you need to stay focus and work hard. What do you like the most about photography in general?
Mhm, I think it’s the “feel.” If I am going down the street and another person is also going down the street, I will see things in a different way than the other person and I will take photos of completely different things. Nobody else will see exactly what I am shooting and I think that’s the thing I like the most about photography.

Then, I come back home and start sorting my photos, thinking of what I’ll be publishing online. As you’ve probably seen, I love to collect quotes. I have a huge list and I keep adding to it. Every time I publish a photo, I will write a quote with it to say what I feel. It feels so good—it’s like, I couldn’t say the words myself, but the quotes with my photographs just showcase perfectly my state of mind.

He is terribly afraid of dying because he hasn’t yet lived.
— Franz Kafka

Oh yes! For me, as soon as I start reading quotes on someone’s Instagram, I just keep reading until I realize that I am in their 2015’s photos [laughs]. People get hooked to your stuff, in a way, because of it. It’s cool.
What do you think is the most difficult thing about photography so far?

The most difficult part is to stay true to yourself, or actually, to find your own style. In the age of Instagram, it’s so easy to get influenced by people because you see so many stuff. Another hard part is the moments where you’re not inspired and don’t feel like shooting. There are some weeks and months where you can feel like no one give a fuck about you and your work. But sometimes, boom, everyone is cheering you up and saying that they like what you do. I think the most important thing is to keep going, no matter if people give a fuck or not.

Being an artist became a really hard thing, that’s for sure. Most of your photos are portraits, landscape, skateboarding as well as filming. Did you start wanting to cover all these styles of photography or you’ve explored new styles along the way? 
What I really like is street photography style. Just going to people and shoot portraits of them. But then, there’s also this one thing that I really like, which is to shoot skateboarding and landscaping together.

Are there any reasons of why you’re only using darker tones of colour in your photos?
When girls break your heart, you always see darker. And I think it’s mostly because of this reason that I use darker tones. And it’s probably why sad songs sell the best. I don’t know … for me, if I see someone smiling on a portrait, it doesn’t mean much. There are more feelings when you have bad days, darker thoughts, stronger emotions.

I don’t think your photos are dark in terms of sadness, but simply that you use darker colors. Is it because of the kind of feeling you want to share?
Yes, I think so. A lot of people can identify themselves to this. Some people sometimes write to me on Instagram and say that they can feel what I want to say through my photos and the quotes. Also, one thing about sadness is that we tend to think more of the “why” and “what” when we’re sad. So, when they look at my photos and remember something sad, I think it pushes them to think more.

How would you describe your photos to someone that has never seen it before?
Mhm, that’s a tough one.
A lot of feelings. It’s dark, but it also combines a lot of things when it comes to the lifestyle of skateboarding. The photos aren’t going to focus on a skateboarding trick, but simply the joy of a push or the joy of cruising; the feeling you get when skateboarding, the freedom.

What about filmmaking? What are your goals with it? Do you want to grow within this field?
I think both mediums, photography and filmmaking, go hand-in-hand. When I go on trips, I never know if I should film or take photos. It’s really confusing. I always end up doing both though [laughs].

I don’t want to be focus on only one thing. And that’s why I also like to do my own art, like writing on my typewriting machine. I don’t post anything about it but I like to do it. It’s cool to have more outcome to express yourself.
 

Do you have any creative goals for next?
To work for Nouvelle Vague magazine [laughs].

I want to do a photo book sometimes, or do another exhibition, maybe in Paris, eventually. I want to reach my goal of being able to travel and live from photography. I would also like to do skateboarding films one day, or short documentary.

Discover Luca's Instagram


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