Who are you, what's your motto? I’m Luke Archer, editor / founder of Loupe magazine and a photographer in a very loose sense of the word!
I think you can’t go wrong with ‘treat others how you would expect to be treated’ as a motto, it certainly informs my approach to life and Loupe. Funnily enough I think the original quote comes from the book of Luke!
Have you studied photography? What are your thoughts? I studied my BA at UWE and I’m currently studying for my MA at AUB. Many of the Loupe team are recent grads. The magazine goes out to a lot of universities and we do try and feature student work so photography education is an area of interest for us!
There are certain constraints that academia puts on courses to make them a ‘degree’ that I don’t always think are essential for photography. Personally, I think the written elements of courses should be reduced and more emphasis should be put on making sure everyone is technically competent and developing career paths for students. However, photography is a tricky subject to teach, courses tend to be broad and with student dedication so varied it is hard to create a program that will be a perfect fit for each student.
For me studying the BA had a massive impact, the difference in the standard of my work from when I started my BA and finished was huge, I just wish I had spent less time on my dissertation and more time making contacts! That’s very much how I have tried to approach the MA.
I also do worry for current BA students that the fees are incredibly high. I think universities should be covering the cost of London degree shows and more competitions should be free or have low entry cost for students, that’s the feedback we get from our student readers.
What's your favourite style of photography? With Loupe we are trying to show the diversity of photography, how the medium can encompass such a breadth of approaches, so I hope my own taste is as varied I think it is!
That being said, I am a sucker for documentary work where a photographer is able to tell a story through portrait, landscape and detail shots. I’m also becoming very interested in how photographers are incorporating text and interviews into their work to tell a fuller story, currently I’ve been really inspired by the work of Lauren Greenfield and Mahtab Hussain.
Can you tell us what Loupe Magazine is? Loupe is a free photography magazine distributed across the UK. We are stocked at a lot of photography specific locations so I think all our readers are as passionate about photography as we are! As previously mentioned we try and feature a diverse selection of inspiring work.
We launched Issue 1 in May 2016 and have been publishing on a triannual basis ever since.
We have a whole host of regular writers including Gemma Padley, Mischa Frankl-Duval, Grace Benton, Alex Ingram and Rosie Wadey, alongside some new recruits who are helping with our web content and will hopefully be writing in future issues.
We also have Noah and Dan who are doing some research as part of work experience modules for their degrees.
Most of the guys are trying to balance the mag with their own photography / studies and paid work so I try not to overload everyone with tasks. Although you would have to ask them if that’s working out or not!
What were your initial aims and inspirations when putting ideas together for Loupe Magazine? Like others we aim to promote new talent but I hope we go the extra mile by sending each issue directly to a lot of people in the photography industry for example: picture editors, curators, ad agency art buyers among many others.
I think that some titles put a deliberate distance between themselves and their readers to somehow inflate their own importance and we don’t want that with Loupe. We are trying to be as open and as approachable as possible. We respond to submissions and give advice when asked (if we can!) and I know from my own experience trying to promote work how much that means to people.
What is Loupe Magazine's biggest achievement to date? Reaching Issue 7! Independent publishing isn’t easy so it is often the small achievements that make it worthwhile. It’s been great to be able to be the first to publish someone’s work in print and then for the project to be picked up by other outlets, or just hearing that our readers appreciate what we do in terms of our general ethos and curation.
It was nice to be shortlisted for the 2017 Stack Awards, the ceremony was great because it was fun to be in a room with so many people obsessed with print.
What do you look for in a photographer who would like to get involved with what you do? We want to feature and promote work that hasn’t had a lot of coverage already. Having said that I am aware that as a free magazine our readership is very broad so I do try and consider that a body of work that might be well known in some areas of the community might be new to others.
For me the best work has a strong and concise concept that has been well executed. If there is a strong degree of originality in both those areas, then that’s the work that grabs my attention.
Curating the magazine is tricky because we have limited pages and that means we have to pass on featuring some very strong work. I feel bad rejecting work because it is not about the quality, it's more about maintaining the diversity of each issue. For example, we have so many people submit amazing documentary work, shot with available light on medium format film but we simply can’t publish it all.
Give one tip to new photography graduates. Try not to let rejection get you down! Although it is something that I still struggle with! There are so many rejections or simply not hearing back from magazines, competitions, potential employers, funding opportunities etc. If you can move forward and keep shooting and keep reaching out to people as opposed to dwelling on it that’s great. There are so many factors beyond the quality of your work that impact on those decisions that we should learn to not take it personally and keep on trucking!
What does the future hold for Loupe Magazine? A new website is top of my list! I want to make sure all the new content we are producing is as easy to access and enjoy as possible.
There are lot of ideas floating about and some vey blue sky thinking! Thankfully with more people helping I hope we can do even more to get to know our readers. A launch event or exhibition for each issue is something we couldn’t do before but hopefully we can put one on for the next issue and everyone can have a beer on us!