Interview: Photographer’s Surreal Portraits of His Sons Capture the Innocence of Childhood

Romanian-born, Seattle-based fine art photographer Gabe Tomoiaga creates surreal worlds of childlike wonder with the help of his three young sons, who both inspire him and bring his artistic visions to life. Tomoiaga crafts whimsical scenes that depict his children–Landon, Liam, and Lucas, all under the age of four–in the middle of fantastic adventures, whether it involves talking to wild creatures, marveling at life-sized flora, or drifting off into the sky. Each storybook image, captured through the tender eyes of a loving father and photographer, is imbued with a wonderful sense of innocence and magic that reflects the ages of the subjects.

We had the chance to ask Tomoiaga a few questions about his inspiration and creative process. Scroll down to read that exclusive interview.

How did you first get into photography?

I started out as a portrait painter and occasionally painted modern abstract art at a very young age. My thirst for creativity grew over time. I retired from painting and decided to purchase my first camera at the age of 21. I was hooked! I started shooting portraits, family, weddings, newborns–you name it! I was quickly bored; I felt I needed a little more excitement in my photographs, so my thirst for creativity led me to conceptual fine art photography.

Many of your conceptual photos feature your sons. Can you explain how and why you incorporate them in your work?

My sons are my world! Everything they say and do inspires me to create magical photographs. They portray a sense of innocence and eagerness to explore the world. I like to give them the time to wander and daydream in every photo session, which makes the photograph appear natural. All three of my boys are under the age of four, so it can be difficult and challenging at times to keep them still for a few minutes. Boys will be boys!

The best part of working with Landon, Liam, and Lucas is that I get to spend quality time with them, really watching them absorb everything around them. At the same time, they teach me how to be patient, and a better father and friend. My sons take pleasure in the small things of the world, whereas we grownups usually take things a bit seriously most of the time. I used to complicate things in my day-to-day life, whereas my sons see the present moment. Letting my sons explore and experience life allows me to tag along on their journey and to watch them grow as individuals. They help me become a better photographer by filtering the noise around me and focusing on the simple things. The greatest ideas are the simplest, and ultimately a matter of focus.

In addition to your family, where do you draw inspiration from?

I daydream a lot! Most of my ideas are spontaneous, while some ideas are carefully planned. Apart from my sons, inspiration is all around us! Everything I see, hear, and touch–like music, books, life stories, art, history, articles, fashion, human nature, nature, and design.

What kind of world are you creating through your photos?

Sometimes photos tell a more powerful story than words. Our busy schedules and fast-paced environment leave a thick haze over our childhood memories, completely engulfing them over time. I like to create a world where we can go back in time and experience childhood again. A time when we didn't have a care in the world. Photographs of two brothers ready to depart in a large umbrella suspended by a single large red balloon in search of adventure…photographs of a boy resting next to the king of the jungle after a long journey…

Gabe Tomoiaga: Website | Facebook | Tumblr | 500px | Flickr | Twitter

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Gabe Tomoiaga.

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