As a child, I had a plastic toy camera. It was cheap, during a time when “made in China” meant low-cost and inferior.
The primitive, plastic lens and crude, tiny viewfinder made taking pictures a process of experimentation. Lacking precision, photographs were the result of chance rather than skill.
Looking at the printed photos, I marveled at the strangely interesting effects that gave the images an other-worldly appearance. I knew nothing of what I was seeing, only that these distortions and defects added to the picture’s interest for me. They became dreamscapes I could escape into, visions of an alternate reality.
Later, I came to understand what the word “surreal” meant and how it related to what I saw in the photos. Forty years later, I learned that my cheap plastic camera was prized by photographers in search of its low-fidelity aesthetic. The light leaks, blurry, soft-focus and display vignetting were the qualities that made this camera highly sought after among collectors.
With the introduction of Adobe Photoshop, I discovered that I could manipulate photos and produce results similar to the dreamscapes that I treasured as a child. Even better, the ubiquitous iPhone brought with it a myriad of photo editing apps, with an endless resource of filters and effects.
As an amatuer photographer, I’ve continued to be fascinated by the juxtaposition of reality and dream worlds. My work has primarily focused on travel and architectural photography, as these were subjects I could quickly capture when my professional career took me to places all over the world for business meetings.
In recent years, I’ve become obsessed with street photography; my favorite subjects are people I encounter by chance, random interactions in fleeting moments. The stories in their eyes are rich, powerful, sad and hopeful.