This Toronto-born photographer’s dazzling landscapes show cities like you’ve never seen them before
Toronto-born David Drebin has taken photos of A-list fashion icons, athletes and other celebs, but he doesn’t think of himself as a photographer—he prefers magician. “Art is a great way to heal people’s visually deprived souls,” he says. “It’s magic derived from the imagination.” He began shooting landscapes and cityscapes while travelling, and those shots eventually provided the material for his new book, Dreamscapes. We asked him to tell us the stories behind some of his most dazzling works.
“I’ve been based in New York since September 1994, so the city has a lot of meaning to me. I went to Parsons and started my career there. My original apartment is where my soul lives , and when I look back, I miss the struggles sometimes, because they are what formed me. This shot was actually the first landscape I ever photographed, and it made me realize I had to do more of this type of imagery. It was a five-minute exposure photograph taken from a very-high-in-the-sky penthouse suite on 57th Street. I was there on a shoot and looked out the window and just had to make this image—it was breathtaking. It wasn’t planned at all.”
“This photograph was more planned, as I went to Jerusalem specifically to make this image from the highest point in the city. The shot was taken in a bit of a danger zone, but I had security detail with me. I did this image in one hour. It required a super-long exposure to get all of the elements in the image.”
“I’ve always been obsessed with cherry blossoms. I never use the term ‘bucket list,’ but who wouldn’t want to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo in the spring? When I decided to make a photograph of them, I went to Tokyo without even having a hotel booked beyond the second night. As long as I have my ticket and my first two nights, I go. I was fascinated by how peaceful the flowers looked and how frantic the crowds were. It was one of the most incredible visual spectacles I’ve ever seen.”
“I’m not a big fan of Paris—I prefer Rome—but I’m a big fan of making photographs there. People dream of flying to Paris. I don’t think people in Paris dream of flying to North York. As for how I make these images…does a chef share the secret of how he made the most incredible steak you’ve ever had? I can say that lately we’ve been flying helicopters.”
“I began making photosculptures with Below the Surface, a shot of a girl falling into water. It’s a 3-D image based on 2-D photographs. I go into a studio where I have 150 cameras that photograph someone from every angle at the same time. We take the images, put them together and 3D print them. Then I strip the subject of her identity by covering the figure with a shimmering, jewel-like glitter so that she is anonymous. I then house it in either crystal starphire glass or acrylic shapes—teardrops, hearts, boxes. I always have the same goal: I want people to imagine themselves in the art.”
“This is an etching on crystal starphire glass. It’s part of an edition of six in two different sizes: the small one is 30 pounds, the large one is 160 pounds—it takes four people to install and it’s the highest quality crystal starphire available. With emojis and emoticons and plastic surgery and everything, I thought it was the ultimate moment to revel lips of love. I feel like RuPaul would love this image.”