Nov 5, 2014

Devin Castro - The "Dear Stranger" Series

One artist interview seems to lead to the discovery of another artist. Such is the case with today's featured mobile photographer, Devin Castro. When I interviewed Jordan Foy about his photography and the Steller app, he mentioned Devin Castro as one of his favorite Steller storytellers. Devin has a unique series called "Dear Stranger". After checking out Devin's Steller stories, it was a done deal - I had to feature him too!

© Devin Castro
What is your name and where do you live?
DC:  My name is Devin Castro and I currently reside in Seattle, Washington.

How did you get started in mobile photography? What device do you use?
DC:  I bought myself an iPhone 4 (my first iPhone) back in June of 2010. After a few months of taking random photos with this mobile device, I stumbled upon the Instagram app in October and immediately fell in love with it. Ever since then, I've been taking more and more photos with my iPhone. It's gotten a bit addicting, really. I just love the accessibility of using a mobile phone, because it's so easy and efficient. For me, it's the fastest way to capture the in-between moments of life. I also just recently purchased an iPhone 6 and am loving its enhanced camera; it's such an upgrade from my iPhone 4 as you can very well imagine.

© Devin Castro
"Dear Stranger, I love the color of your moped. If you didn't have to worry about gas money, I wonder where you would travel to first."


Do you have a traditional photography or art background?
DC:  I attended California State University-Fullerton studying Studio Art, where I took courses in drawing, painting, and graphic design. I have taken a film photography course during my senior year, which sparked my interest in using my mother's Canon AE-1 more frequently. However, I would consider myself a self-taught photographer because my professor for said course expected her students to know how to use a basic film camera.

© Devin Castro
"Dear Stranger, I noticed a girl waving at you from the passing bus. You smiled and waved back. It made me smile."
© Devin Castro
"Dear Stranger, thank you for letting me use your restroom even though I didn't have money to purchase anything."

Who or what inspires you?
DC:  Everyday life seems to have the strongest impact on me. I am constantly inspired by the fragile ethereality of little happenings. I find that photography is a way of documenting our existence and interpreting it creatively. Music also influences me greatly, because my music taste changes rapidly as does my style of shooting photographs. My favorite photographers right now: Vivian Maier, Ren Hang, Lukasz Wierzbowski, and Margaret Durow.

© Devin Castro
"Dear Stranger, we both wanted coffee. But you looked like you were in a hurry, so I let you order first."
© Devin Castro
"Dear Stranger, your shoes are still here. I wonder if you ever walk by just to check up on them every now and again."

Your "Dear Stranger" series on Steller caught my eye. Please share how the project started.
DC:  I used to work at Disneyland, where I would see people from all over the world and witness how they would interact with each other and their families as they enjoy themselves in the happiest place on earth. I would play "people-watching games" with my co-workers to help pass the time, like wonder what each person had for breakfast, what their occupation is, and imagine what they're thinking. These silly little games helped me improve my overall people-watching skills that much more. I took these skills with me to Seattle, where I moved into my first solo apartment. I've been walking around the city alone taking photographs of people and playing said people-watching games by myself. And that is how "Dear Stranger," came to be.

© Devin Castro
"Dear Stranger, I stopped in my tracks and watched as your reflection followed you down the steep hill."
© Devin Castro
"Dear Stranger, we were about to cross paths. You had your head down the entire time. So I did the same."

Do you ever get negative feedback from "strangers" when you photograph them?
DC:  I take photographs using my iPhone as well as my Canon 7D. I would mute my iPhone that way it's more subtle when sneaking a photograph of a stranger. But when I use my DSLR, it's hard to mask such a loud shutter sound. This one time, I was admiring a stranger and how her outfit matched the color of her car (I included her in an episode of "Dear Stranger,"), so I decided to take a DSLR photo of her. She turned to look at me just as I was taking the photograph; she had the most vexed expression on her face. It was a bit awkward. She rudely asked me why I was taking her photograph and I told her my reasoning. She rolled her eyes and got in her car. I smiled and continued walking.

© Devin Castro
"Dear Stranger, there were plenty of empty park benches for you to sit and enjoy your lunch. But you chose to sit on this tree stump. Good choice. I would have done the same."

Have you ever shared a photograph of one of your subjects with the person? 
DC:  I saw a stranger sitting alone at a park bench wearing a Batman tee-shirt. I quickly snuck a photo of her from afar. Afterwards, I walked up to her and asked her, "Who's your favorite villain from Batman?" She told me Poison Ivy. I told her that she was my favorite, also. We proceeded to talk about random things for a good fifteen minutes. I showed her the photo I took of her and she laughed hysterically. I don't know why. Oh, and her name was Sarah.

© Devin Castro
"Dear Strangers, I heard that you missed your bus. Don't panic. Maybe it was for the best."

Do you do any post-processing? If so, what apps do you use?
DC:  Yes, I use two apps: Snapseed and VSCO. I use VSCO primarily for its delicious filters, M5 and F2 being my top favorites. Then, I tweak the photo's individual color saturation a little bit using Snapseed. Voila!

© Devin Castro
"Dear Stranger, we walked in the same direction at the same pace for eight blocks. And then I turned left."

Why do you like the Steller platform for sharing?
DC:  I absolutely love Steller because it showcases people's unique creative vision, whether it be a photo essay, a short poem accompanied with photos and videos, etc. I'm constantly inspired by the stories I read; it's a beautiful platform and I hope more people get into it.

© Devin Castro
"Dear Stranger, I'm sorry that this happened to you. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day anyway."

On a side note, I noticed on your blog you've made a list of 24 things to do before you turn 25 (in May 2015). How is that going?
DC:  I'm so happy you noticed! It's going really well, I haven't completed that many so far due to a very busy few months since I created the list. Most of them are ongoing goals, like finding ten new-to-me restaurants, complete twenty paintings, etc. Luckily, they're all small goals that can be accomplished with ease and patience. We'll see how it goes once May rolls around! :)

© Devin Castro
"Dear strangers, I wonder how many of you are listening to a GPS rather than following the signs that were built for you."

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
DC:  I love the smell of rain on dry earth, fresh baked bread, and patchouli. I love the sound of high heels walking on a tile floor (especially in malls), crushing leaves, Jena Malone's voice, and the pops/crackle of playing an old vinyl record. My favorite word is 'sonder'.

Find Devin:  Website / Tumblr / Instagram / Steller

Apps Mentioned:
Snapseed
VSCO Cam
Steller


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