6 questions with miniature photographer Bart Sasam

Pictures of Austin, but make them tiny.

A miniaturized version of the Long Center during the Wintertime

Bart’s photos are mostly taken via drone.

Photo by @miniatureatx

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Are you ready to see Austin in a whole new perspective?

Bart Sasam, a UT graduate and computer engineering technical writer, has always taken photos as a hobby, but it wasn’t until 2020 that he began sharing his miniaturized portraits of Austin — and cities he travels to — on social media.

A busybody by nature, staying inside due to COVID-19 was difficult for Bart, who spends much of his free time outdoors or volunteering. Sharing photography on his Instagram was a way of keeping busy, spreading some good cheer, and getting him out of his own head.

Three years later, Bart has upgraded his setup and is now working to boost his follower count. We sat down with Bart to talk about what photography means to him.

What happened in 2020 that made you want to start sharing your photos?

Obviously, the whole pandemic changed a lot of people’s mindsets — my dad passed away in 2020. It was like, what else can I do? I’ve always volunteered — I’ve probably put in 5,000 hours of volunteering in the past five years with my company. That in itself was like a side job. ... I always just wanted to get more involved and make a difference, so I wanted to see where my photography and art could go in that aspect. Could I make somebody happy? Can I make somebody stop for a second?

What inspires you about Austin?

Austin will always feel like a big town, it doesn’t feel like a city to me. Despite how big this city’s getting, it just always has big town vibe. Yeah, that’s what I love most about it.

A mini-looking tourist ship on Lady Bird Lake

Most of the work to make the images so toy-like involves editing in post.

Your photos have a kind of distinct kind of slice of life in Austin, from a bird’s eye view. How often do you go out to take photos?

Too often? A lot of times I come up empty. I got an iPhone specifically to get higher quality photos if I don’t have my camera, which I was lucky enough to get in 2021. Probably at least a couple of times a week I go out. I just really like taking photos, looking back on them, and then if I can find a good one, I’ll post it.

You have three accounts: @reflectonaustin, @miniatureatx, and @dioramatraveler. What’s the difference?

@reflectonaustin is more photography-based, like actual photography, and taking shots of reflections around Austin. It’s kind of a twist on what the different meanings of reflection are: I try to give some self-reflection, encouragement, motivation type captions, along with a cool reflection to look at. That one was a little bit for myself, mainly to practice actual photography.

@dioramatraveler is more trying to build an art out of it — create these little scenes. The thing with that, too, is that I didn’t want to just call it “mini.” I do have @miniatureatx, which like a sister account just to post Austin-only things. But I really like (the word) diorama because it’s like a scene — I didn’t want to just capture tiny things of Austin, I wanted to build scenes. I’m still working on that.


Bart’s @reflectonaustin account shows literal and metaphorical reflections.

How do you make your photos look those diorama scenes?

It depends. I fly my drone a lot and they don’t have the toy effect lens for it yet, so I just do a lot of post-processing on Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom.

However, a lot of it has to do with the timing. (If I) walk around the city without my camera, and if I see something cool, I’ll take it and then have to be focused on that. The toy lens really, it speeds up everything. You can see it live right there on the camera, which just makes everything better. Sometimes, you can’t fix something in post, you can’t make something toy-like. So it’s like, well, I just wasted an afternoon. So having the camera with that toy lens is definitely I try to do that as much as I can.

Do you have any goals or any places you want to travel this year?

I want to be able to, for one, raise my influence. I went from nobody to 500 (followers), which I’m happy with because if I think about it, I wouldn’t speak to 500 people in an auditorium. This was always a hobby of mine and I really enjoyed the process. So if it grows, it grows, if not, I’ll just keep posting anyway. I’ve always been a creative and I’ve just been heavily ingrained in the engineering world. I would love to meet new creatives or more free agents around town.

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