Through the Lens: Turning Emotions into Art

by Luke Thomas
Also Featured on KQED

Through the Lens: Turning Emotions into Art

by Luke Thomas
Also Featured on KQED
04.29.21
Photo courtesy of Luke Thomas
04.29.21

Photography started as a way to creatively kill time during quarantine. But now, a year later, it’s my favorite hobby.

The past year has been an unbelievably stressful one. Online learning, simply put, is hard. It can be boring, repetitive and stressful. To cope, I started going on long walks and taking photos of anything that caught my eye. 

I’ve been taking photos for as long as I can remember. Working my way up from a Dollar Store quality, hot mess of a camera to an iPhone 11. 

My obsession with photography drove me to explore the Bay Area, capturing images from the powerful Black Lives Matter murals in Downtown Oakland, to neon signs advertising cheap liquor, to the colorful candy-lined aisles of a grocery store. 

My favorite photoshoot has to be my trip to the then-brand new Salesforce Transit Center, in downtown San Francisco back in May, when I was just beginning to feel very, very trapped. I did my best to capture both the cavernous size of the three-story building, and how empty it was due to COVID. I took about a hundred shots that day — two of which now hang prominently on my bedroom wall. 

With a worldwide pandemic and virtual learning, everyday is difficult. But photography has been therapeutic.

What’s going on in my life definitely affects what my photos look like. If I’m in a good mood, I’ll take bright and colorful photos. If I’m sad, stressed or bored, they’ll be dark and lonely. My best shots happen when I’m feeling overwhelmed. They are chaotic and messy explosions of different colors. Seeing the world through my camera has given me a new sense of appreciation both for what surrounds me, and what’s inside of me.

In many ways, my camera has been my companion this past year. 

The process of taking a picture, editing it just right and getting it printed for my bedroom wall is very rewarding. It’s a way to both document this crazy pandemic world, and express myself.

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YR Media Statement in Support of AAPI Community