Main library exterior at dusk in Salt Lake City picture

Main Library, Salt Lake City.

Main library exterior side view in Salt Lake City picture

Main Library, Salt Lake City.

Slow Train record shop browsers in Salt Lake City picture

Browsing at the Slowtrain record shop.

The Red Door interior with woman seated near cocktails and Che Guevara wall art in Salt Lake City picture

The Red Door: martinis, whiskeys, and wines.

sushi chef Takahashi Gibo at work in his restaurant in Salt Lake City picture

Sushi chef Takashi Gibo at work in his eponymous restaurant picture.

Retro Rose shoppers in Salt Lake City picture

The eclectic wonders of Retro Rose.

sandwich selection at Bambera in Salt Lake City picture

A variety of sandwiches from Bambara.

Salt Lake City: Photo Essay

Road Journals blog—I debate whether it’s easier as a travel photographer to get the feel of an unfamiliar place and capture it in pictures, or to photograph someplace familiar and strip away preconceptions to portray a fresh and balanced view.

Salt Lake City is rooted in the history of western expansion and settlement, just as I am rooted to Salt Lake City through grandparents, experiences, and my own history.

But while many observers have been taciturn about it, Salt Lake City has experienced a revitalization, becoming over recent years a city reaching out to the future. It is techno-savvy, sustainable, and hip.

I find the curved glass and steel of the new downtown library to be an icon of this change. My assignment for VIA took me on a tour of a changing Salt Lake City, with restaurants, specialty shops, and unexpected places populated by young, aware people attracted here by well-paying technical jobs and mountain recreation.

There were some challenges. While not admitting to my age, I owned many of the vinyl LPs for sale at Slowtrain when they were new, and some of the kitschy used stuff for sale at Retro Rose looked like it could have once inhabited my home. I was worried the people who run these places would see this photographer as a relic, but I found people who were cool without being cold. We shared laughter and mutual interests.

Another challenge is the need to take photos for a spring issue of the magazine two weeks before Christmas. Holiday decorations were everywhere, and I spent considerable effort rearranging and selecting angles that hid as much as possible. So I invite you to play a game of “Where’s Waldo?” to find any uncovered ornaments that might be adorning the city.

This assignment allowed me to experience the changing face of Salt Lake City that I only suspected was there. Too often when you live near a place, you continue to go to your old haunts and don’t step out to explore. This time I did, and I now plan on returning to many of these locales.

One other change in me is that I had never before associated a frosty martini with Ché Guevara. These days, though, it’s entirely natural.

Photographer Scot Zimmerman shot images to accompany Nino Padova’s story about Salt Lake City that appeared in VIA.

Photography by Scot Zimmerman

This blog post was first published in March 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.


I really enjoy Scot's work. He is amazing! Is there a way to purchase your prints?