The photographs in this series represent the lingering history and culture of San Jose from the 1900s to the new millennium. When I was a young child, my mother married a local restauranteur. At this early age, I developed an appreciation for the family business that was established in the 1960s. This restaurant wasn’t just food for me, it meant family, a safe place, love, and laughter. When the matriarch decided to retire the business after over 40 years, the community and I felt a strange sense of loss. Perhaps, because these longstanding places had become a part of our identities.
Each of these images are of places that are over sixty years old. Because of this, I chose to use a retrospective view in photographing. Using a fisheye lens, I wanted to create space between the viewers and the buildings. As memories are shaped by our own internal lens, the photos also show the nostalgia through the fisheye effect. Post-processing heavily emphasized lighting, filters, and HDR. Photographs were slightly desaturated to show the fade of color over sixty years. In addition, each photo also has rounded corners inspired by film photographs of the 1960s.
They say that we don’t know what we have until it’s gone. Completing this project inspired a deeper appreciation for San Jose’s local history. In scouting locations, I sadly discovered that the last iconic KFC sign in California was being removed this year. Another restaurant, Wings, established 1923, would be shuttering its doors later this month. I was very grateful to have been able to photograph it before the rising rents closed them down. While gentrification may be inevitable, we can slow its progress one local, delicious bite at a time.