Though he has quite the following in the digital sphere with his popular instagram account, it’s photographer Luke Austin’s 60-page printed Mini Beau booklets he’s been producing steadily since 2014 that have helped win him his devoted online fan base. Recently publishing his sixth booklet, titled Bed 2 and featuring images of men lounging nude in sun-bathed beds with their favorite books in hand, the booklet series features images of strapping men wearing nothing (or next to nothing) frolicking in the sun-dappled hills of L.A. (Runyon Canyon), posing in women’s wigs (Femme) and showing off their rears (Butt). “It was originally just a fun little idea that I never expected it to get as big as it did,” says Austin, who posts the booklet images to his Instagram, along with other work and the occasional selfie. “But people really responded to them and its been fun being able to continue the series.”
Austin mostly casts friends or guys he’s spotted scrolling through social media, only occasionally working with professional models. “I’ve always preferred shooting the ‘regular’ guy as opposed to professionals,” says Austin, “because there’s that little resulting awkwardness that really works in the photo.”
Indeed, there’s a voyeuristic element to Austin’s naturally-lit, unposed images — particularly in his Bed series, which features strapping, chiseled men in poses that are more vulnerable than macho. “I like softening the macho, and I think it’s refreshing to see muscle guys shot like that,” says Austin. “The Bed books forced the models to concentrate on reading instead of what their body looked like. There was no posing, no flexing — just beautiful shots of the naked male body.”
Explore those shots in the gallery above, and, if you’re in the L.A. area, you can see more of Austin’s work in how show, Soft Instant, opening at Jason Vass Gallery on March 19th. It runs for a month.
To see more of Austin’s images, visit his website at Luke Austin Photo.