From the work that Luke Beard is creating to his explorative whims to his downright humble manner, there is a strong sense that he’s an exceptional person. Amassed in a city where the general population is fixed on creating the next big thing, it’s almost jarring to meet someone who’s achieving that so fluently. Sitting down with Beard at Sextant Coffee Roasters in the SoMa neighbourhood of San Francisco, his good-natured character was easy to distinguish, as is the assured potential of the product he’s built.
At 27-years old, the self-taught web designer and Forest of Dean native along with friend and co-creator Kyle Bragger, have developed subscription based Exposure—an online publishing platform for beautiful image-dense narratives. As a self described “hobbyist photographer,” after returning from a trip to Estonia with no place to safely publish his travel tales online, the Exposure cogs were put in motion. “A member’s photos and stories are their own and not for sale or to be used for financial gain on our part in any way,” Beard says in striking contrast to other alternatives. “With companies like Flickr and Instagram playing fast and loose with photo licensing, we want to stay firm and be a safe haven for photographers of any level.” After only a year and a half in operation, having officially launched in October 2013, Exposure has quickly established itself as just that.
Strict intellectual property defence aside, it’s clear that Beard is deeply invested in the community that uses the site, often reading and sharing a personal selection of Exposure stories on social media. “Seeing our members’ passion for storytelling through photography and them connecting with the platform in such an adoring way [is the most rewarding part],” he highlights. “We see Exposure being a platform to help our members prosper in many ways. From an ‘exposure’ standpoint, it’s to help people with budding careers or established ones.” Pair all of that support with its light-hearted and playful makeup—there are exactly 11 American Psycho Easter eggs embedded around the site—and you not only have a stage to publish long-form content but an ebullient space to “do something meaningful.”
Following along with his posts on Exposure, Instagram, or Twitter, it’s not difficult to see where the product’s modus operandi stems from. Take for instance enviable trips to Oslo, Flåm, and Berlin or casually shooting at the Everlane offices, Beard consistently finds opportunities to accomplish something. Outside of restlessly imagining new builds for the site—like the rather ingenious browser extension—Beard fills his time with simple and genuine pleasures. “I just got engaged, so a decent amount of my time is in my relationship with my fiancé but besides that it’s things like trying to relearn some skateboarding tricks I had on lock when I was 17, learning to cook like an adult, and taking tons of photos.” Indeed, from exploring his surroundings through photography, finding and holding the pulse of Silicon Valley, and connecting with transient strangers coming through the Bay Area, Beard pushes the social framework that ultimately creates an impressive, Exposure-worthy lifestyle.
Shoot locations: The Mill, Sextant Coffee Roasters, SoMa StrEat Food Park, Third Rail, The Hundreds, Souvla, Mollusk Surf Shop, and Kirby Cove.