Meet Lucas Hulgton, photographer documenting Ukraine’s “Plainroses”

Written by Mackenzie Carmichael, CNN Brutally tough for the fans. But incredibly rewarding for the photographers. Four years ago, award-winning Instagram account @SavedByIntangibles introduced the world to the picture-taker and his haunted vision of…

Meet Lucas Hulgton, photographer documenting Ukraine's "Plainroses"

Written by Mackenzie Carmichael, CNN

Brutally tough for the fans.

But incredibly rewarding for the photographers.

Four years ago, award-winning Instagram account @SavedByIntangibles introduced the world to the picture-taker and his haunted vision of the mountain range where he lives.

Aged nine, Lucas Hulgton and his friend found the region on the shores of Lake Alexander in what was then a Soviet republic in southeast Ukraine. “We couldn’t believe it,” he says. “It was huge and beautiful. We didn’t even know what we’d stumbled upon.”

Hulgton decided he wanted to photograph the giant peaks soaring above the surrounding landscape, but, he explains, he didn’t have a clue how to begin.

“I was building snow simulators to teach myself what my trip was going to be like,” he says. “I started to learn camera settings and aimed to have some top-quality pics.”

So, he set off at the age of 11, backed by his father, following the spine of the snowy spires. In the years that followed, Hulgton was driven by desire, and will. He became addicted. He accumulated everything a digital camera could hold: a lens, multiple lenses, touchscreens, building up the sort of portfolio most of us would be happy never to dream of.

One more time

But while Hulgton relished his professional career as a fashion photographer, his documentary photography, more recent since the Instagram account started, has had its challenge, too. It didn’t come so naturally.

“I’m not a natural photographer — never really have been,” he says. “I never had a ‘normal’ job.

“I worked as a model, but everything is still shot and edited digitally, so I started to think that maybe that was ‘normal.'”

But, working as a commercial photographer — photographing everything from the fashion show to the lingerie shots — he also decided to attempt another kind of challenge. “One day I came into my office to find that my staff had printed the first print of the Taken by Heights exhibition,” he explains. “I knew then that I wanted to make a film about my exploits, and that, for me, photography is now like any other creative endeavor — like painting, photography, music. I want to push the boundaries.”

It’s a cinematic form with an easy to digest narrative that fits perfectly into cinema, at least for the aspiring talent behind it.

Saving by Towers: The Experience is currently running in more than 30 U.S. cinemas. After its debut, it will have a local release, though Hulgton and his team are in the process of picking dates and venues.

And so begins his journey across the U.S. — from LA, through New York, through Chicago, and on to Chicago, where he will be picking up his film grant. And he will undoubtedly still be hunting for a massive mountain.

Catch Lucas Hulgton on Instagram.

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