Sometimes when you ask a creative about the genesis of their project the answer is pretty predictable, and sometimes it really isn’t. Photographer Luke Stephenson sent through his new series Pizza – a series of portraits of pizzas he ordered alongside the men who delivered them – but the initial inspiration actually came from jockeys, or rather paintings of jockeys on a collection of cigarette cards Luke stumbled across on Flickr.
Drawn to these profile portraits, Luke was planning a photographic shoot in the same vein but over time he noticed that the pizza delivery guys whizzing round London on their scooters echoed the proud riders in the retro paintings.
He decided to shoot the whole thing in a single day and called up the pizza places in advance to ask their permission. “Some of them were understandably very confused by my request as I don’t imagine it’s a common question, but most were very accommodating and agreed to send someone on the day,” he explains. A couple of people weren’t able to give him a definitive answer so he went ahead and ordered a pizza anyway, although having turned up a couple of riders flatly refused to be led into his east London studio. “That was fair enough so I just photographed the pizza they had delivered and all was not lost,” he says.
As often with Luke’s work a lot of the meaning is left up to the viewer – are these simply nice still-lifes to be enjoyed on a straightforward level, or do they raise questions about who we choose to celebrate in portrait form, and why?