To be able to freely explore a personal, nostalgia-driven series served as a welcomed departure for architectural photographer Casey Dunn, whose commissioned projects typically involve the sharp, exacting style necessary in capturing mathematical details of a structure.
But for Dunn, "Hoop Dreams" is more than a reprieve from day-to-day work and evolved out of a lifelong love of basketball — a sport that served as his solitary sanctuary during the rough-and-tumble teenage years.
Throughout his travels across Texas in recent years, Dunn has sought out basketball hoops steeped in both neglect and affection to create a collection of moments most powerful when viewed together, rather than apart.
For this installment of Still Stories, we asked Dunn to share certain moments from the project and his plans for the future.
What did you shoot with? We're talking cameras, not hoops.
I shot this series with one of my favorite cameras of all time, the Mamiya 6. It shoots square-format and has a collapsible lens element which makes it super compact for traveling. For youngsters out there, this is a film camera. It takes high resolution photos and then stores them on a tiny piece of acetate. It's kind of like Instagram but just takes longer — and viewers can't immediately tell you the pictures are cool by tapping their fingers on a "like" button.
Where are the locations of all of these hoops, or are they a secret?
The exact coordinates are secret, in part because I could probably never remember or explain how I stumbled across half of these goals. They are mostly in Texas, but a few are from other random trips I have taken in the States.
What feeling do you hope this series will inspire in viewers?
Nostalgia, mostly. My alleyway basketball goal was like church for me while growing up. I worked through the toughest parts of adolescence while shooting on hoops that goal. I would hope that the pictures would remind the viewer of a similarly quiet place from their past.
Do you have any particularly good/funny/scary stories that came from the experience?
Not one story in particular, but I have knocked on a few doors to ask for permission if the property the goal was on looked particularly scary. It is always funny to see people's confused faces when I ask to take a picture of their basketball hoop. They have such a hard time figuring out why I would want to do that.
Is there just one photo within this series that means something special to you? If so, why?
I would have to say the goal at the Balmorhea State Park pool in West Texas. This park is one of my favorite places on Earth, and I looked at that hoop so many times before taking photographs for this series.
How long have you worked on this project?
It remains ongoing, but I have been shooting basketball goals for two or three years now.
So how good are you, really, at basketball?
I'd say, this good.