Luke Irving: Skilled Photographer and Communicator

by Kyra Palmbush

When you scroll through Luke Irving’s ’17 Instagram page (Luke_Over_Here), you will be astonished by sweeping landscapes, cozy cabins, and stunning images of flora and fauna in the greater Seattle area. As you immerse yourself in seeing the world through Irving’s eyes, you may wonder how this photographer became so skilled in capturing the natural world. After graduating from Azusa Pacific University as a Communication Studies major in 2017, Irving dove into the creative world of photography.

When Irving initially visited APU, it was love at first sight. “I looked around at several colleges, and when I went to APU’s campus, I had that deep sense of home,” he said. After he graduated, Irving stayed at APU and worked as an admissions counselor for a few years, where he slowly discovered his passion for photography and videography. He was introduced to photography by his roommate and quickly immersed himself in the craft. “I have always been creative, so photography gave me the ability to have an outlet.” Irving and his wife, Megan, felt called to move to Seattle and took the leap of faith in 2020. “Moving up here and being surrounded by so much beauty and nature, I was able to start shooting a ton and met a lot of really cool photographers.”

Irving is passionate about capturing landscapes and has settled the niche of Airbnb photography. He described his appreciation for digitally preserving people’s homes they have devoted significant time and effort into creating. “I love connecting with the hosts and learning about the space they love and how I can capture it,” he said. “They have this gorgeous cabin that they have never had professional photos of. It opens the door for them to see how beautiful their places truly are and for other people to see that and get excited about visiting.” When he described his creative process, Irving explained that he starts with a vision and creates a narrative around a central scene. “I think about how we build this journey around how to get to the cabin, and how it feels when you are there. Once I have that vision, it’s about making it happen.”

Living in the Seattle area has opened up unexpected opportunities for Irving to share his faith with people from different backgrounds. “A lot of people in the photography space are searching for something. I think it’s that deep desire within them that they are looking for the Lord.” He explained how attending APU has provided a door for him to speak about his faith. “I love talking about Azusa Pacific because I can explain the things I learned and who God is to me.”

Irving talked enthusiastically about his experience with the communication studies department at APU and how the material he learned in the classroom directly applied to his experience in the working world. “With anything I’ve ever done, having clear communication has been so helpful.” One of Irving’s favorite classes was Small Group Communication with associate professor Courtney Davis, PhD, which helped him while working with clients with different visions than his own. “I have learned how to be with groups who are dysfunctional and ask how we can figure this out and work together. The practical knowledge from the class has helped with my career. I always say if you went to a good school, you learned how to learn, and that’s what APU taught me the most.”

Irving emphasized that he is still learning and finding the direction of his future. “It’s okay to not have it all put together when you graduate. I want to normalize that there is going to be this period in your 20s where you are just figuring it out, and that's fine,” he said. He also advises students looking to enter creative industries to ease the pressure of succeeding in a competitive field by pursuing remote work opportunities. “You can get a remote job and use those extra hours to pursue that creative endeavor and let it flourish and grow. You might find that you love your remote job more than the creative pursuit or vice versa.”

Most of Irving’s work can be found on Instagram, the central platform he uses for his freelance work. “When it comes to anything on social media, it's a mess,” he said. Irving described the struggle of comparison artists often face when using a social media platform to share their work. Through navigating this space, Irving has learned, “It's hard to recognize your own thing because it feels like if you can do it, that means it's easy.” One of the best pieces of advice Irving recalled receiving was to compare yourself to yourself a year ago, and not to compare yourself to anyone else in the industry. “The thing you can do is probably pretty impressive, so don’t compare that to someone else,” he said. “Look at yourself, your progress, and you are only going to get there if you keep working at it.”

Kyra is a public relations intern in the Division of Strategic Communication and Engagement.