Luke Thomas: Turning Emotions Into Art

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The pandemic has given a lot of us a new lens on the world and our lives. For YR Media’s Luke Thomas experiencing the last year from behind a camera brings new insights.

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.

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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.

With a Perspective, I’m Luke Thomas.

Luke Thomas lives in Albany. His Perspective was produced by YR Media as part of KQED’s Youth Takeover week.