Chris Lee always had an interest in film and photography from childhood. One of his earliest memories was asking his parents if he could use their camera. His parents told him it would be a waste of film.
Lee’s inclination for film and photography resurfaced again at age nineteen when he spent six weeks in Beijing with his grandparents and discovered his grandfather, unbeknownst to Lee, had a photography hobby.
“He bought me my first SLR,” Lee said. “Film and development were very inexpensive over there, so I was able to shoot like I would when I shot digital, and I taught myself to use the camera on that trip.”
When Lee returned to the states, he enrolled in a photography class but found out everything they taught him about a camera could be learned by reading the manual. So rather than attend classes, he honed his craft.
“Instead of going to class, I did a lot of film work, almost exclusively black and white, primarily using a large format or 35mm camera,” he said. “I got my first Digital SLR before my first child was born and basically shot for myself for fifteen years.”
Lee experimented with photography but did not do much with the art until he logged on to social media.
“After I saw my first macro photo, I borrowed a buddy’s Canon MPE,” Lee said. “Within a month, I had traded my Hasselblad 503 for it. There was no looking back. I dove straight down the rabbit hole.”
When Covid hit, Lee got bored. So one day, he wanted to see if he could take the microscope objective from his kids’ scope, rig it to his SLR, and pull an image. That experiment set Lee on the path to microscopy and writing a book about cannabis photography.
Now, Lee operates his own business: Gonzo Photo.
He describes his process as “falling down the stairs. Fail often and learn.”
In his spare time, Lee enjoys hanging out with his family and studying Ving Tsun Kung Fu.
For more Illinois News Joint Arts news, click here.