Luke Gram is a Canadian travel and adventure photographer that has shot for notable clients such as Nature Valley, Daniel Wellington, Free People, and other various medias and magazines. Luke captivates viewers through his travels in Cuba, making known the land and people that is full of culture.
When did you first pick up a camera?
Tricky question. I first got ‘serious’ about photography when I was 19 and was living out west in Canada. I got tired of seeing all these amazing things while hiking and camping in the Rockies but capturing it on a shitty iPhone, so I made the leap - I bought a Canon 5D mII and haven’t looked back since. That being said, a year ago I was rummaging through some old boxes at home and found old photos from a disposable camera. I asked my mom about it, and turns out since I was a young kid she’s been buying me disposables for school trips to Quebec, or when I flew up north to visit my grandfather. Seems I’d forgotten.
How did you get into traveling and travel photography?
Traveling came naturally to me, but the same can’t be said about travel photography. I’ve always had an urge within me to explore as I think any kid who reads Nat Geo’s gets. Primed by a fascination with the world from my studies in history and psychology in university, it seemed the next logical progression to leave the textbooks behind and get on a plane.
As for the travel photography, it was incredibly hard for me. I began my photographic passion capturing the mountains as I said. They’re always there, and they’re always beautiful. Yet with travel photography it takes a really refined eye, coupled with a genuine interest in the place you visit. I had the latter, but not the first for a long while. The variables in travel photography are immense. For landscapes, the primary concern is lighting/time of day. Travel photography combines those two with numerous other things, creating a much more demanding, challenging environment to shoot. That’s what hooked me. It’s beyond incredible to leave a place with photographs that accurately reflect the culture and country you experienced. I’ll also note I’m a very shy person as is, so the concept of taking photographs of strangers, let alone going up and asking for permission for portraits was a completely foreign concept to me.
You just got back from Cuba; what was your favorite thing about the country?
The greatest thing I found in Cuba, which I think out of the 40+ countries I’ve been to, is that it truly is unspoiled by modernization. It’s an unfortunate thing to enjoy as that also means very few people have smartphones, access to the internet is incredibly restricted, food and water is scarce, and many people drive dying, rust buckets. That being said though, it’s in my opinion, the last place on the planet that you can step off a plane and genuinely step back in time. The charm of the country swells within you in a joyful way and leaves you with a new found appreciation for our modern society, as well as humility for the simpler things in life. I could write a novel on the joys of Cuba- there truly are too many, but I’ll leave it with that.
How did the Lomo'Instant Wide affect the way you experienced Cuba and how you took pictures?
Havana is magical, I mean that whole heartily. Every street is lined with vibrant rustic old cars, wedged between buildings, splashed with fading colors and flooded with people: singing, dancing, selling flowers or smoking cigars. Havana was built for the polaroid camera. That’s undeniable. The country is a time-capsule sealed off from the world in the 60’s, and nothings changed. For me, the major appeal to polaroids is the what I personally call the ‘shoe box aesthetic’. That is, old photos you’d find buried in your grandpa’s basement in an old shoe box, and the overwhelming sense of history and nostalgia that comes with it. The Instant Wide captures that, and then some. Delivering modern functions and high-quality build, it lets you capture the quintessential feeling I just described, while offering the joys and ease of a modern, updated system.
I practically couldn’t put the camera down. Everywhere I went was a perfect photo. Everything lined up, or offered a creative opportunity with the MX features. I brought 40 polaroids; my only regret was not bringing 80.
Do you have any great tips for shooting with the Lomo'Instant Wide?
It sounds dumb but it’s super simple - carry always, shoot lots. I mean it! I had a full day of regret capturing things on my iPhone when I left the Instant Wide. Nothing looks as good as the polaroid. I think my key advice for shooting with the Instant Wide would be bring with you a safe pouch to put your polaroids in after, so they both expose better in the dark. A pouch also prevents the film from being scratched or abused. I wish I could give more advice but the camera is just so user-friendly.
Interested in learning more about how Luke captured this series? try the Lomo'Instant Wide for yourself, found on the Lomography Online Store.