I Am a Small Business – Glendale

In the Summer of 2020, I set out to document Glendale’s small businesses. Hidden in plain sight, I found a group of hard-working entrepreneurs who are indispensable to our city. I felt a sense of urgency with this project, to capture a disappearing world, as no one really knows what small commerce will look like in the coming years. In this collection of hyper-realistic portraits, every detail can be seen up close by hovering over the image in the Viewing Room. Each photograph is a collage comprised of more than 200 individual pictures that are blended together to represent the moment you walk into a store, glance around and meet its owner. Ambient sounds from each store take you further into their worlds.

Click on any thumbnail or use the Viewing Room menu to explore the virtual environments.

My goal is to spotlight local shops and their owners hoping that in an era of social-distancing, we can find connections and start a dialog. I’ve always been struck by Glendale’s diversity and inclusivity – the majority of residents speak more than one language – yet to me, it feels like a small town. There is no doubt that Glendale’s community is strengthened by its charming and idiosyncratic small businesses. The shops in this project have their own personalities; they are filled with more than just the items for sale. Some are decorated with memories and keepsakes from the owner’s life, while others have treasures tucked away in the corners. When I enter a shop, my eye tends to dart around as I try to take in the “whole picture.” I’ve made these images the same way. 

This temporary art installation is sponsored by the Glendale Arts and Culture Commission, through funding from the Urban Art Program.

To see more work by Eric Axene, go to or email him at