Leo van Munching

The photographs in this series are part of a larger project to document the architecture, landscape and people of San Francisco during the most pervasive changes the city has seen in decades.

Though deeply ingrained in the popular imagination, the San Francisco of “Vertigo” and “Bullitt,” the Beat Poets and the Summer of Love is rapidly being transformed by boom-and-bust cycles in the tech industry and its close cousin, the real estate market. The famous landmarks mostly remain, though the vistas are gradually shrinking in the face of construction, while the social landscape increasingly resembles that of Manhattan, where an earlier influx of wealth led to the gradual exodus of its middle- and lower-class inhabitants. How far down this path San Francisco will travel, how soon, and with what consequences for its fabled ethnic diversity and the character of its neighborhoods remain open questions.

San Francisco is the site of numerous annual marches, street fairs, parades and non-hosted happenings, many of the participants of which are explicitly engaged in consciousness-raising. Their messages are sometimes expressly political in obvious ways, but in other cases what they advocate for is the freedom to pursue styles of life traditionally rejected, discouraged and even outlawed. Still other participants in these events try to call attention to passions and pursuits far out of the mainstream. My intention with the portraits is to depict how San Franciscans express the freedom and tolerance that, for many, is a large part of what makes them stay.


For more information about the artist, please visit his website.