My name is Alan Lai. I am a former professor, musician, videographer, photographer, minister, husband and father. I am a Canadian living in Vancouver.

My first camera did not belong to me. It was a Rolleiflex film SLR camera belonging to my father. The year was around 1979. That camera was a big deal in the camera world at the time. I have no idea why my father bought it, because in my recollection, he never used it. That camera became my first introduction to film photography. As a teenager, I used to buy Kodak or Fujifilm ISO 100 and sometimes ISO 400 films, and learn the craft of photography. I learned simply by using it!  

Since 1982, I didn't do much with that camera, or any camera. I was obsessed with academic studies. Fast forward to the year 2000, I pursued a doctorate at Columbia University, New York City.  As a young professor at the time, I felt the need to do something else in my spare time that had nothing to do with academic life. I picked up photography again.

My first digital camera was a Sony point-and-shoot. Then, I dived into the Nikon world, having used D5000, D90, D800, and D850. I was inspired to do landscape photography. These are wonderful cameras, especially D850. Several years ago while looking for a smaller camera for travel, I discovered Fujifilm. Many Fujifilm x-series cameras are perfect for travel and street photography, especially the X100 series. I have switched to Fujifilm completely since 2018.

In recent years, I have devoted my creative energy to do street photography. That genre of photography connects wonderfully with me as a scholar in cultural studies and education. In the academic world, I am well tuned in the craft of hermeneutics, a fancy term for the art of interpretation. Photography allows me to do hermeneutics with images mingling with social contexts rather than published papers and intellectual ideas. 

I am also a musician and videographer. My Fuji X100V is always with me in my bag. I have a full time job to keep me alive. But visual images and inspirational films are important to me as an educator who is fascinated by world cultures.

To me, photography is an art form that inspires imagination, provokes justice, and it invites us to fall in love with the world. It is a spiritual practice, an interpretative art. It has no fixed boundaries. It is about the ways of interpreting the world and the art of telling stories. 

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