Photo Essay

Small Business Owners

Ryan of Good Karma

I live in the heart of the Silicon Valley-a ten minute walk from Adobe, an eight minute drive from Apple's campus, 14 miles from Google headquarters. This is Silicon Valley business, as the world sees it.

In the blocks surrounding my apartment exists the side of business that is so easily forgotten. A restaurant. A clothing boutique. A skate shop. A bicycle museum. A gallery. A tile shop. A hot dog stand. Small businesses, powered by hard-working individuals. Niche businesses that, in the shadow of San Jose's massive corporations, provide local people with the localized services they need. In my quest to capture the essence of my neighborhood, I found these businesses to be the perfect place to start.

San Jose is a city repeatedly recognized for its multiculturalism. This diversity dominates the small business community as well. In these four city blocks I found proprietors of Chinese, Thai, East Indian, African, Australian and European descent. And mirroring their diverse heritages, I found myself amazed at the diversity of products and services provided, all operating within such close proximity to each other.

I photographed these men and women with what is now a quasi-antiquated method: film. With my medium format camera, 150 mm lens, Fuji NEOPAN 400 film, tripod, and a cable release I set out for 3 months to document these women and men as a tribute to the smaller side of American business, and to the thread of hard work and perseverance that ties us all together.

They seem so at home in front of their storefronts, their direct, level gazes belying a self-assurance and nonchalance that is often difficult to find in portraiture photography. It is a product of the fierce determination and ingenuity required to run a small business. It is a sign that, sometimes, hard work and perseverance pays off in the end.

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1 response

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (7 Dec 2008):

    Great tribute to these people. You got my vote, Joe!

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