This Harry Potter fan in Canada is recreating the magic of Hogwarts in what looks like real life
Potterheads in quarantine: you'd probably rather be in Azkaban than stuck at home right now (just kidding, there's Death Eaters), so here's something that'll transport you straight to the realm of witchcraft and wizardry.
If you've ever wished for a real life Hogwarts, look no further than the Instagram account Wizards Among Us, run by a Toronto Potterhead with some incredible photo editing skills.
Quarantine means we can't visit our favourite Harry Potter stores like the Wizard Market or Curiosa, but Steve Lee — a.k.a. his wizard alias, Aurellius Lee — is making up for it with his URL interpretations of J.K. Rowling's magical world.
The self-proclaimed Ravenclaw and Auror (and freelance UX and UI designer in this universe) began his Instagram account a year ago and has racked up nearly 2,000 followers to date.
But Lee says he's been part of the Potter fandom for nearly two decades, ever since someone gifted him Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone when he was 11 years old.
"I was hooked," says Lee. "As soon as you finish the book, it feels like you're homesick. You want to go back to Hogwarts."
Lee says his passion for Rowling's universe was reignited by the kickstart of the Fantastic Beasts series, which follows a more grown-up iteration of the universe, sparking him to join the world of Potter Grammers.
He began posting pictures of paraphernelia like wands and magical-looking books he'd been collecting over the years.
Then he began moving onto more scenic edits, which are the ethereal vignettes of Hogwarts life you see on Wizards Among Us today.
There are snapshots of Lee in the Hogwarts library, using the Aguamenti spell in the herbology class greenhouse, or my personal favourite: popping out of an extension-charmed suitcase in front of the Confederation of Wizards (basically the U.N. of the magical world).
"Editing these photos, it does take a lot of time," says Lee. Rather than use Photoshop, Lee actually creates his images on his Samsung S10e through a number of apps like PixArt, VIMAGE and Facetune.
It takes a number of hours to perfect each one (if you're curious how, he also includes tutorials on his IG highlights).
Lee's Harry Potter hustle also extends to making custom pins, 'passport' prings for members of the International Confederation of Wizards, and Hogwarts diplomas. And a large part of his activity online is community building for other Potterheads.
"When I first started this account there really wasn't any Harry Potter 'grammers in Toronto, I was one of the first," he says. "There also wasn't very much Asian representation in the community."
Lee now runs #SubtleAsianPotterheads, a play on the wildly popular Facebook group Subtle Asian Traits, which is a private group chat which can be joined upon request.
Though the monthly meet-ups and Toronto tours of fellow Potterheads have been postponed until the time being, Aurellius Lee says he wants to keep the community going.
"We're hoping to reginate that in Toronto again after the pandemic," he says.
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