1899: Photographing The Beauty Of The Mundane

Inspired Eye
5 min readJun 11, 2020

Lynn was interviewed in issue 5 about his collection of Saigon photographs. He has another project about the beauty in the mundane, 1899 being his house number. Here’s a back and forth about the project.

Lynn please tell us about yourself

My approach to photography is through the filter of fine arts. I studied photography at Cal State Northridge with Roger Brown, where I learned to see depth, I received a BFA from Cal Arts . Photography had been a means to document my art, until one day I picked up a digital Leica a camera that not encumbered with a lot of settings, I remembered the pleasure of photography.

What inspired you to become a photographer?

Photography simply is way for me of seeing what I see/feel, it is another way of self exploration which has always interested me.

How did this project start?

1899 is a project is started with this simple question: What would I photograph if I could not leave home?

Why did you believe that you needed to go somewhere to photograph?

I’ve always thought that I needed to go elsewhere to photograph, the grass is greener some place else, the streets of New York… So I began looking more closely at things I often overlook: the visually discarded images, discarded because they were so familiar. I decided to focus on my every day surroundings, I began “1899.”

What changed for you to focus on you home instead?

The biggest change happened back in 2010 when I started looking around my own environment and could see the an ongoing discovery of finding what is already here, not disregarding the every day, but looking at it again in a different way. Different times of day has different light quality and within 1899 the changes are often subtle not unlike the subtle changes within me and my approach to life.

How do you try to make the familiar unfamiliar?

One of the hardest thing a artist/photographer has to do is find their own vision, their own unique way of seeing. This process take years and thousand of images and looking at ones work and finding what excites them about their work. For me this is a two part process, the first is just how I frame the image a point of view. The second part is ongoing in how the image is then processed. Color or black and white and how best to visually say what you feel and what to say. Color tends to be more documentary, where black and white gets to the bones, the marrow of an image.

How did your mood and seasons affect your shooting?

Good question, both come into play at different times and for different reasons. As you know I was in Vietnam and when I got back an one question that kept coming up and still does… is it life or death? From my point of view this has created a disconnect with what I perceive as the motivations that drives many people, goals of cars, possessions… what was perceived as the American Dream.

So I am quite, I observe and make visual connections and I have to shoot daily. When I am down the images are darker and what is presented is not as forthcoming. Moods are storms that roll in and pass on, they may stay a while, but in my experience they also pass. Seasons bring changing light in both quality and angle. Winters are often long and cluttered, coats, sweaters, hats and scarves so there is a different visual to work with.

In your view, why is the mundane important?

The mundane is often overlooked due to lack of interest or not exciting until I look deeper and see the undercurrents. I once had a teacher that asked me how I was and I answered at moments good and other moment not so much. He answered moments are all there are. That answer has greatly influenced my approach to life and photography.

I stop, take a breath and find myself looking longer and seeing or feeling a depth. The problem then is how to convey that feeling in terms of a visual language of processing an image.

Do you see these images as subconscious self portraits or more objective documentary?

All my images are snapshots of my subconscious in that they are self portraits at a particular moment. They are also documentary in subject matter, but I would like to think the viewer may feel something else.

Any tips for photographers who want to start a project of their own?

Shoot what you know, where you live, find something that has a emotional hook for you, that you are passionate about. Often as photographers we want to be some place different than where we are, but for me there is not an an investment in the images. The images may be technically good but lacking a depth.

What cameras did you shoot this project with and why?

1899, so far has been shot with a Leica M8, Leica D-Lux 4, Ricoh GR, Fuji XT1 & iPhone. The 2 Leica has really been replaced with the XT1 because of the higher ISO capabilities and the fact that is is always close at hand. When I choose a camera is has to be easy to use and setup, I really hate digging into menus. I really keep things simple, aperture, shutter, ISO and sometimes EV.

Any closing comments?

Just a thank you for you time and effort in presenting the inspired eye.



Inspired Eye

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