This is what a miniaturized Austin looks like

With just a few clicks, Bart Sasam can shrink the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail to the size of a twig. It can make a city bus look like a toy, and crowds of people appear as if they are only a few millimeters tall. “It all depends on what you’re blurring,” he says, emphasizing the importance of his flip lens and Adobe Photoshop.

Unlike other photographers, Sasam is not looking for the perfect shot. He doesn’t chase sunsets or do portraits. Instead, he takes time to notice his surroundings, stepping away from his own life and immersing himself in his surroundings. By creating digital dioramas, images that appear much smaller than they actually are, he invites others into a moment of mindfulness. We caught up with the local photographer to talk about his process, his inspiration and his favorite shots.

Why do you like to imagine Austin so small?

There are a lot of different ways to answer that, I suppose. I’ve always been an advocate of impacting people and I’ve done a lot of volunteer work, but I wanted to take a different path and see how I could impact people anonymously, even if it wasn’t. is only a few minutes a day. , or a few seconds a day. It is very common for us humans to have tunnel vision, where we are in tune with our own issues. I like trying to push people back. It’s a big world out there, so zoom out. That’s where the idea came from. Plus, he looks cool.

How do you make these photos look like this?

I have a flip lens in case I have my camera handy. It creates that blur and a different depth of field. Most of the time, if I travel, I don’t want to bring my camera, so I have to take a photo with my phone and do some processing in Photoshop. I’m also using Adobe Lightroom to try and make it look a bit more artificial.

It looks like an optical illusion or something, the way everything looks so small after you modify it. What’s going on there?

Another aspect is the angle from which you look. So if you do the same blur effect and look at the same plane, it doesn’t have the same effect as if you were looking at it from… well, like it was a Lego set . And you usually look at it from a 45 degree angle. The blur effect is an illusion to highlight the part you want to make miniature and blur the rest. There is a whole art. Sometimes I edit a photo for hours because I can’t get the blur right.

When did you first try? What was your inspiration?

It was at SXSW a few years ago. There was a short film about dioramas, and they had a similar idea: they made dioramas of real scenes. Fast forward several years later, and I was trying to think of ways to get people to stop and think. I thought of myself, I like to see things in miniature. And I thought back to that initial exposure to SXSW.

Do you have a favorite photo you took?

I do. There is a roundabout in Austin that is quite unique. It’s really cool because in one corner you have the last house on Rainey Street. At one corner they are developing another skyscraper. In another corner you have people walking their dogs. It was one of the best scenes I’ve captured. It really touched me. I’m sure you’ve spoken to a lot of people who are very supportive of the Austin change, and then a lot of people who are very much against the Austin change. I think it was all captured in one photo.

When you look at dioramas, what emotions do you feel?

At first it’s like, Wow. What is that? What am I looking at? I am a firm believer in mindfulness and taking a step back from daily thoughts and life. So that’s the first thing it does to me: it makes me pause. And then it makes me think: would I have even noticed all these people if I had been the one in the photo? Did I notice this whole scene? Chances are most of us will say no. Am I going about my day like I have for two years with COVID? Is it right to the next thing?

Bart Sasam runs a blog called One job per year, where he documents what it’s like to pursue a new calling every 12 months. Although he’s had titles like tech writer and bartender in the past, being a photographer was his goal for 2022. Follow him on his site or check his Instagram here.

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