Photographer Rafael Cardenas captures vivid images of a changing city: A flower-vendor standing outside a Cheesecake Factory, a man playing bass in front of a wall of Mexican movie posters, teenagers doing skateboarding tricks by a soda shop.
"For me, documenting is important," said Cardenas. "A moment becomes something else once it's photographed – and then it becomes its own thing."
Cardenas, born in Jalisco, Mexico, and raised in East Los Angeles, shoots many of the beautiful black and white images of people, buildings and moments in a place he now calls home.
A collection of his images make up a new book called Mas Aca, and will feature in an exhibition this weekend at East Los Angeles College, Tastemakers & Earthshakers: Notes from Los Angeles Youth Culture, 1943-2016.
The documentation that his photography provides is more important than ever, said Cardenas, as the neighborhoods he shoots go through rapid change. The new businesses and changing demographics in places like Frogtown, City Terrace and Boyle Heights offer a mixed picture, he said.
"It is that double-edged dagger," he said. "It hurts when you see people displaced, when you see businesses displaced. When you see businesses come in that really don't welcome you, that's tough."
But he constantly strives to explore new ways to capture his city.
"It's a learning process, every single time I shoot," he said.
What: Tastemakers & Earthshakers: Notes from Los Angeles Youth Culture, 1943 - 2016
When: Opening Reception: October 15, 5-8PM
Where: Vincent Price Art Museum, 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, CA 91754