Artist and photographer Michael Paul Smith has spent hours upon hours photographing one special town that he holds very dear to his heart. There is something that always drew him to it, and the images he created are simple, but stunning. They glow with small-town charm and innocence, reminiscent of days and decades past…
Welcome to Elgin Park!
Thinking where to spend vacations next summer? How about a quiet country town, wooded, no traffic, where people know each other by the name and where everything breathes the memories of an era that will never return? Yes, Elgin Park is the ideal city. Is quaint and beautiful:
It’s like each picture tells a story of how life used to be in the United States.
There’s not much going on in these pictures, but it’s obvious that this town is nothing but charm.
To Michael Paul Smith, this is what quintessential America looked like when he was a kid. But Elgin Park it’s not real… It doesn’t exists, except in the mind of photographer and artist Michael Paul Smith. For over 25 years, he has been creating this imaginary world called “Elgin Park”, filled with scaled models of old cars. They’re 1/24th the size to be exact. He chooses appropriate surroundings for these models, and then uses his camera to capture the most realistic shot possible. The kind of shot that you have no idea is within a tiny world. Here’s the best part: he does it all with a $200 point and shoot camera.
His photos tell a story that takes you back to that time and place. “What started out as an exercise in model building and photography, ended up as a dream-like reconstruction of the town I grew up in. It’s not an exact recreation, but it does capture the mood of my memories”, Michael says. The photos that recreate this imaginary town of “Elgin Park” are believable not only because the backgrounds, lighting and subject are expertly integrated, but also because of the extensive and thoroughly researched details in each scene.
Michael sets his models up on a card table and populates it with cars from his extensive collection of Danbury Mint and Franklin Mint die cast autos and trucks. The buildings are constructed of resin-coated paper, styrene plastic and basswood, plus numerous found objects. No Photoshop was used in these images; they’re all composed in the camera. He places the scene near the street or in a parking lot and lines up the camera angle and horizon to perfectly match that of the model, getting the perspective just right. Michael also does night scenes, which are usually photographed inside his small apartment using a very simple lighting setup. He is also able to duplicate the moods of different weather conditions, seasons and times of day with streets wet from rain or curbs drifted with snow made from carefully applied baking soda.
If you’d like to see more pictures of this perfect American town, visit the Elgin Park website or visit Michael’s page on Flickr. To learn more about Michael’s work, please visit the Craftsmanship Museum website for a full writeup on his talents and process.