Going behind the lens: Three local San Jose photographers talk their favorite shots

Meet three local photographers who have spent their time documenting the beauty within San Jose, CA and hear their advice for beginner photographers.

Three photos taken of The Alameda, a plane between Downtown San Jose buildings, and Mt. Lick Observatory.

Let’s talk to the photographers behind the lens of these beautiful shots.

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We’re tired of hearing the generalization that San Jose is ugly, because that could not be further from the truth.

Since kickstarting SJtoday, our team has worked to find all the beautiful, amazing, and fun aspects of the great 408 to share with you. But, we weren’t the first ones to do that. In fact, much of the breathtaking imagery on our profile can be credited to local photographers who have been documenting our city’s true beauty.

We sat down with three photographers who we regularly interact with and asked them to share their favorite images, their processes behind taking them, and what advice they have for a beginner photographers.

A graphic of the photo of The Alameda that Chris Ho took, next to a photography tip from him saying, "Amazing things are done by ordinary people doing ordinary things an extraordinary number of times. So, my one tip to aspiring photographers, “Explore. Create. Inspire.”

Meet: Chris Ho.

Photo via @steezc

📸 Chris Ho | @steezc

“The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic turned even the most populated places into desolation. Many were stuck within the confines of their homes, only proceeding outside for work to be done or errands to be made. Like many others, I found myself in an endless cycle of work, Netflix binges and room tidying. I’m a photographer however, my passions lie in the discovery of the world through my lens. And on my way home from work one day, was I fortunate enough to be greeted by such a sight.

Many San Jose natives or those who have come to reside in this beautiful city may be familiar with this location. However, you might find something is off. Where are the cars, the traffic, the pedestrians, the hustle and bustle of everyday life we are so accustomed to?

The lack thereof is why this is one of my favorite captures in the recent years. There’s a sort of beauty yet melancholy invoked from this picture. The alluring sky, interjected by the tops of flowing palm trees. The antique building and the SAP center in the background. Juxtaposed by a empty road in the foreground that seemingly leads to more emptiness. The golden hour with not one subject to capture.

This shot was taken on Highway 87, which for the time was also considerably empty. Enough so for me to park on the shoulder, put my camera out of the sunroof, and snap this picture. It encapsulates a time of uncertainty, but it also brings forth some things we take for granted. Like how beautiful our surroundings would be, something we would overlook on our regular commutes in our busy lives. This picture has empowered me to explore more shots similar to this and many more like it would come — my silver lining for the time.”

A graphic with Daniel Dentone's photo and a quote from him saying, "Always view and capture your subjects from a variety of perspectives."

Meet: Daniel Dentone.

Photo via @danieldentone_

📸 Daniel Dentone | @danieldentone_

“I feel my process is fairly simple. I make the majority of my photographs where I feel the pull to capture the moment. Sometimes from the car. Sometimes on foot. Sometimes familiar locations, but most times new places. Often a mix of all the above. It really just depends on what sparks that fire. Photography is a release for me, and even when I’m not making photos, I am constantly scanning the world in great detail.

Maybe it’s a tree in a weird spot, the cycles of the moon and sun, the way light or shadows are cast, changing of seasons, curves in the road, colors, frames and lines, traffic, people, shapes, architecture, signs, lettering on a storefront, landmarks, landscapes, reflections, and the wide and macro views of our daily surroundings, from all perspectives. Essentially, it boils down to the old saying of being in the right place at the right time.

Of course, it also helps to have your camera with you and knowing how to use it. The other half, and equally important part of the process, comes down to taking your time to develop/edit your photos to bring your vision to life.”

A graphic with two of Benny Villarreal's photos with the caption: "My advice to a novice photographer is to be patient with themself, enjoy the moments, and the process. Make mistakes, and try, try again! Allow photography to take you places that you had never been to before."

Meet: Benny Villarreal.

Photo via @bennys_journey

📸 Benny Villarreal | @bennys_journey

“The thing with both photos is the timing and patience that it takes to get a special element or elements that bring the photo to life. Whether it be a sunset, a moving train, a full moon, etc. I find it exciting to wait for the right moment.”

Feeling inspired to promote the best of San Jose? We welcome all local creatives to collaborate with us — like Chris, Daniel, and Benny — so connect with us by following our social media, sharing photos, and/or telling us about your unique story.

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