Snap judgment: Capturing Pasadena in more than its most iconic structure


It’s a challenge for the ages: Try to capture the spirit of Pasadena in a photograph, without pointing your lens toward City Hall.

Writes reporter Janette Williams in Monday’s Star-News:

Chamber of Commerce President Paul Little’s only suggestion for last year’s “Images of Pasadena” competition was to find a compelling cover image for the annual directory that wasn’t City Hall.”

Here’s last year’s winning image.

The impulse is understandable; It’s obviously an iconic structure (pictured above in a 2005 photo by Leo Jarzomb). But where’s the creativity Pasadena? Perhaps we’re too focused on the big picture, literally, and missing all the little, intricate, raw details that make up life in the city.

Those things are what make this other image among our favorites of Pasadena City Hall.

It doesn’t look like much, until you examine it closely — both the work and the artist. The canvas is denim: Actually, a pair of jeans Isaiah Hinnerichs wore when he was just a teen, homeless and living on the city’s streets.


Hinnerichs, seen at right with another work, is also legally blind. He paints by studying images in extreme close-up, held within inches of his eye. The structure of City Hall in his painting is not quite right, but the idiosyncrasy doesn’t detract from its weight.

What magical idiosyncrasies could you capture on camera to tell Pasadena’s story at a glance? The gauntlet has been thrown down again for this year’s directory-cover competition. Entries are due Sept. 30. For more details, call (626) 795-3355 or e-mail

(Photo of Hinnerichs by Keith Birmingham)