A Denver Photographer Is Capturing the Lives of Restaurants Through Their Signs

For many photographers, life and work in the time of coronavirus has looked very different. With weddings, events and other gigs getting canceled left and right, it seems there are very few opportunities for these professionals to do what they love. But like many creatives, photographers have found a way to still capture the ongoing climate. That was the case for Wheat Ridge native Ethan Herrold. 

Traditionally a freelance photographer that works on everything from editorial to commercial shoots, Herrold decided to start this series after a simple walk around his neighborhood.

“I began to notice just how ubiquitous the signs had become … so I grabbed my camera,” he explained.

From there, Herrold traveled to other Denver neighborhoods to get a better picture of what this odd slice of life looks like — going from Capitol Hill to LoHi, RiNo and places in between. Most of these locales, he noted, all had a common tie. But one, in particular, stood out:

“I think the most interesting sign I saw was Stowaway Kitchen’s in RiNo. They used 24 individual pieces of copy paper, each with a letter on it, to cover the entire front window,” he said. “I think it showcased the quiet desperation many restaurants are feeling; that, even in a digital world, many are turning to homemade, physical signs to attract business. Also, the individual pieces of paper were the most prevalent theme I saw between restaurants. I think it’s interesting that so many of these businesses had the same idea.”

But despite the more depressing connotations of the signs, Herrold explained that restaurants are still acting as a reprieve for many.

“Restaurants serve as a kind of oasis to ordinary life, with small groups of people often waiting outside to get their order (six feet apart and mask covered of course),” he explained. “It’s also one of the only times I could tell people were smiling under their masks.”

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