This is a weekly series where we feature our incredibly talented Adolescent members and their work! Sign up here to join the Adolescent Membership and be part of the @ family!
Hi, Adolescent readers! Our newest Member Crush is none other than Will Luo, a self-taught photographer who grew up in seven different cities. Since getting into photography when he was 15, Will has shot for Somewhere Magazine and Pure Nowhere, and even been mentioned in Rolling Stone. This week, we talked to Will about why he briefly quit photography, how he’s subsequently shifted in concept and direction, and where the magazine industry is at right now.
Adolescent Content: You grew up in about seven cities, which is just insane. Do you feel like all of these different locations—from India, to California, to New York, presently—influence your photos?
Will Luo: Living in different places has definitely made me more comfortable with exploring new ideas. When you’re moving cities every couple of years, change becomes normal; so with my photos, I think I’m always reinventing my style.
Adolescent: You quit photography for a bit after a few of your photos went viral on Tumblr, since you felt like they were offering surface-level aesthetics instead of hard-hitting meaning. What motivated you to get back into shooting after that?
Will: Shooting portraits made me love photography again. It’s a great medium for telling stories. Also, I stopped chasing technical perfection and went back to the Lomographic way of shooting that got me into photography in the first place. The most important thing for me is to have fun with the process, otherwise everything falls apart.
Adolescent: Are you proud of how your photos have shifted in direction and concept since then?
Will: Yeah, my creative direction is much more in line with my vision now, though I’m not sure how to describe it in words. I really just want to create something unique that people can resonate with for a long time. I used to spend a lot of time on Instagram, feeling pressured to post constantly and keep up with everyone else. Now, I allow myself to take more time with my photos so that I can create something I’m proud of.
Adolescent: You’ve worked with so many cool, genuinely impactful publications. What has that been like?
Will: It’s been awesome to connect with people who support what I do. When Somewhere Magazine and Majestic Casual took interest in my work, it definitely felt like I hit a new milestone. And shooting concerts for Pure Nowhere has been a blast.
Adolescent: Where do you think the magazine industry is at right now?
Will: I think traditional magazines and gatekeepers are on the way out, but there are a lot of independent publications now putting out important and interesting content.
Adolescent: What’s next for you?
Will: I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m optimistic. Two years ago I had never even set foot in a photo studio, and now I feel like I’m making the best work of my life. I’m planning to just keep shooting and see what I can do.