Luke Kirkbride accidentally ended up behind the camera creating stills, after originally pursuing a course in Film Production at University. For a good stretch he was just taking photos for the fun of it and to gain a little money on the side. ‘I took photos for a nightclub. It was as bad as you can imagine!’ He really enjoyed people drunkenly trying to take the camera from him. I can tell he thinks back on it fondly.
He also helped someone take images of their Fairtrade stall, alongside a few odd jobs, and started to realize he had a knack for it. Film based work was hard to come by after graduation – and his stint in catering didn’t exactly inspire him, but requests from friends for photos kept pouring in. The adhoc tasks and favours gradually became a business – Offhand Photography.
In response to my request for the elevator pitch, Luke smiles and says, ‘I’m just a calm, mild-mannered photographer who can take vibrant, exciting photos of events and occasions.’ His ideal shoot is gigs; bands in action, and he’d love to do more festivals, whatever the scale. He’s keen not to limit himself at this stage (weddings aside), ‘I’m very flexible, I shoot photos in a range of fields and listen to what people are after.’
To Luke, the name chosen for his business, ‘Offhand,’ means something that doesn’t go according to plan but still works. It also seems a great reflection of his chilled out nature. He comes across as someone who faces stress and unpredictability with a slight shrug, then cracks on with the task.
When asked if he did a lot of stuff for free at first, to build up a portfolio Luke says, ‘Yes, I chose to do that, I was happy to at first. Luckily it was an easy transition, and then I made the business official (in July 2017) and started putting a price on my time.’
I first met him at a YBC networking event at Veeno in Chester, ‘I’m trying to go to a range of networking events and promote across social media – but word of mouth seems the most successful approach.’
His favourite photo in his portfolio is below:
Luke was in Thailand a few years ago visiting family. He paused at some traffic lights in a taxi and all the girls on the bike turned to look at him at the same time. ‘Thailand is manic and everything happens so fluidly, especially the street markets.’ His social media (especially his Facebook) is bursting with images he’s taken for the sheer love of it. Naturally, he composes a shot like a filmmaker, and enjoys scenes where things clash.
Luke’s excited about all the new things sprouting up in North Wales (where he lives). He’s definitely noticed an increase in start-ups to get involved with and unique events. ‘People are realizing they don’t need to go to London, or a big city for great opportunities.’ He’s part of a friendly, local co-op in North Wales, who courteously beg and borrow equipment from one another for bigger engagements. Nice to hear that individuals in the same industry can support and play nice.
In the future, he’d like to move to Chester. He’s continuously drawn out here for creative pursuits, and he’s pretty attached to grabbing a Greek lunch at The Olive Tree Brasserie. He also highly recommends his family Thai restaurant in Colwyn Bay – Tamarind. ‘It’s wonderful,’ he says, ‘trust me.’
His advice for anyone starting out in the freelance domain – ‘Probably patience. You’ll have the dead phase and the up and down. Patience is essential.’ I ask when he’s planning world domination? ‘2020,’ he assures me. Best to keep an eye on him then.