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Conversations with Chris Lucas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Lucas. 

Hi Chris, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I originally began taking photos because I am a disabled veteran and I needed a hobby once I got out of the military that I was able to do physically. I have always had a love of all things nature so I took this as an opportunity to combine a new hobby with going to see my beautiful new home state as I had moved to Michigan once I got out of the service. Fast forward a few years and my skill level had progressed to the point where I was being asked to provide photography services so I decided to make it all official. I was extremely lucky to have been noticed especially considering there are so many very talented photographers in our state (many of whom had taken me under their wing and showed me the ropes) but I began my “professional” side of photography by licensing my images for fortune 500 companies to use as art in their offices. Shortly after that, I was published for the first time and I began moving into other genres of photography so that I was always learning something new about the craft. I am fortunate in that I do not rely on photography as my source of income and that allows me to be selective on the jobs I take and maintain the original intent of why I got started which was a stress relief and hobby. Every dollar of profit I make from photography either goes to new photography gear or charity in some form or fashion. It’s my small way to give back where I can. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely has had its shares of struggles. When I first started there were my physical limitations, I had to contend with which was new to me and also brought along its own mental health struggles as a result. I am lucky to have an amazing spouse that helped me along the way and encouraged me in my photography as a means to heal both my body and mind post-military service. Money was much tighter back then so I started off with a cheap crop sensor body and used a literal garbage can as a tripod. So, if you are new to photography or thinking about picking it up, don’t think you have to have the “expensive” gear because it doesn’t make you any better of a photographer. The best camera is the one you have and use that to learn the craft and hone your knowledge. 

The nice part about the photography community is our innate desire to lift each other up. When I was (or still do) learning a new genre or concept; most of the time you can find a photographer who is skilled in that area who is happy to teach or show you the ropes if you assist them or just general chit chat/shooting together. The social media influence on photography cannot be understated (both positive and negative in my humble opinion) but one of the beautiful benefits from that influence is the ability to strike up a conversation or be exposed to someone’s work. That’s how I have made the majority of my photographer friends and I am always happy to help answer questions for new photographers or guide them to how I created a specific photo etc. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Originally, I would have said I specialized in landscape photography as that’s the genre where my first licensing and published works originated from but nowadays, I would venture to say that I specialize in not being specialized. Nowadays I do a lot of portrait work/fashion shoots but I am always trying to learn about photography because it keeps me engaged and motivated. When I start feeling that creative “burnout” I often use learning a new genre or method as a means to overcome that feeling. As a result, I have become knowledgeable in several different genres although I would never consider myself an expert at any because there is always something more to learn from someone. 

I would say I am most proud of the charity work I have been able to do through photography. It has allowed me to raise money for local animal shelters, various children’s groups, and a few local families who experienced a tragedy. 

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
It has always amazed me with the level of sheer grit and determination that is displayed on a daily basis but it always seems to be tempered with some level of kindness and understanding. I remember shooting sunrise one early morning in downtown Detroit and as I was walking along the waterfront, I came across a homeless person sitting with a well-dressed individual. The two were sharing a thermos of coffee and just general chit chat. I had wanted to photograph the interaction as it was one of the most genuine moments of basic humanity, I had seen but the well-dressed individual had declined my request. Still, I learned that the two had crossed paths weeks prior when the well-dressed individual was “getting some air” and visibly struggling emotionally when the homeless person helped talk them through whatever they were experiencing. Ever since then the two said they occasionally had coffee together on the waterfront. In that moment I witnessed a struggle in two individuals; one I would have guessed, the other I would have not. Yet both going through something still found it within themselves to give something to the other and I think that sums up the overall Detroit experience and one of the reasons I have come to love our great city. 

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