Yikes, that HDR is bad. Those clouds are also photoshopped in, if I recall correctly. Just glanced again, yeah, definitely photoshop.
This picture was taken in 2013, before Fractals became a thing. Do you recognize this place? No, you probably don't, because it's a quaint spot tucked away somewhere around Seattle. And you're probably off, well, maybe on the other side of the world. Of course if you do recognize that place because you're a Seattleite, hit me up, let's be friends!
The place in this image is Palace in Renton, WA. It is a wedding and exhibition hall; I definitely recommend heading over there to check out their pig intestines if you're ever in the area, and are so inclined. This place also happens to be where the idea for Fractals was born! Every idea has it's genesis.
How'd that happen? Well, I had been doing wedding photography for a few years in college. My parents both being photographers, and knowing it's not a very lucrative career path, warned against me pursuing it as anything other than an interest. I ended up studying finance, and then ended up doing work in software engineering.
But nothing sparked my interest like wedding photography. I'd shoot all the weddings I could; balancing school, and other things. Half way through college, and I had ~30 weddings booked for 2013!
Which brings us to Palace; there was a bit of an Isaac Netwon moment; where a glass piece from an overhead chandelier fell and hit me on the head. OK, that's not really what happened, the glass piece was on the floor. Intrigued, I picked it up, and started shooting with it; without even knowing it, I was becoming introduced to prism photography.
Every burgeoning industry needs some form of catalyst, and there just wasn't one for prism photography. I looked and looked online, but nobody was really doing anything with prisms. The images I got at that wedding were pretty neat, and I was fairly sure other photographers would be receptive to trying the technique, if it were approachable enough.
I tried actual equilateral prisms (like the ones you had in school), and they just didn't do the trick. They're clunky, they don't augment the subject well, and they make photographers look like goof-balls.
So, without any idea what I was doing, I signed up for space in a local glass studio and started cutting things apart. I still have some pictures from that time, which is neat. Never delete old memories; some day, you will want to see them again.
If you're getting the idea that I had no idea what I was doing by looking at these pictures, then you have the right idea. I think all businesses that start out are like that, though. You don't have to know what you're doing, but you have to at least try, and be persistent when you fail.
Lo and behold, after a few weeks, I actually got somewhere!
This was our first filter; it worked okay, the set today is much better. But it was enough to get people to believe in me, and for that I am forever grateful.
I took my rugged designs to Kickstarter, and was met with an incredibly supportive community. None of this would have been possible without their support. Even though, some of them ended up really not liking me because it took quite a while to manufacture their product. Building stuff is tough, and I always try my best to make sure everyone's taken care of. It's easier to do now, with things set up and established.
The community we've built over the years has continued to amaze me both in their skill and their altruism in helping one another.
Things are still rough sometimes. I'm developing new products, and not everything ends up working out or being profitable. But if you want to do something badly enough, you'll do it anyways, because it feels like the right thing to do. And even if you think you'll fail—if it's important enough, you should try it anyways.
So here I am!
Thanks for reading :-)
Published by Nikk WongNikk Wong is a photographer, probably very much like yourself. He began his career shooting weddings and portraits, but quickly became obsessed with prism photography. Now, he spends his time building lenses and products in an effort to bring the magic of prisming to a mainstream audience. (Can I stop talking about myself in third person now?) 🙃