Luke Smalley

Sunday Drive

Sunday Drive (2009) by American photographer Luke Smalley is a two-part suite of narrative photographs. The first component depicts three gorgeous young women who primp and preen before climbing into a convertible on a beautiful summer day. Their destination is revealed in the second part of the series; they are heading to the state prison to visit their equally attractive, and incarcerated, boyfriends.

Sunday Drive is also Smalley’s final body of work. The photographer passed away in 2009 at the age of 53 after a successful career that balanced a fine art practice with commercial photography for men’s fashion magazines such as Another Man, Vogue Homme International and Arena Homme +. Smalley’s work is suffused with nostalgia. Earlier bodies of work, such as Gymnasium (2001-03) and Exercise at Home (2007), were inspired by yearbooks and fitness manuals from the early 20th Century. His whimsical and sexy images toy with the intersection of fashion and societal ideals of femininity and masculinity, much like photographers Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber, who served as inspirations.

Luke Smalley completed a degree at Pepperdine University in sports medicine while earning money as a model and personal trainer. His fine art work was shown across the U.S., and several series, including Sunday Drive, were published as monographs by Twin Palms Publishers (Santa Fe, New Mexico). Upon his death, the Smalley Partnership was formed to manage his photographic legacy. His work, and the Partnership, are represented by New York-based gallery ClampArt.