James de Leon

James de Leon (b. 1984) is a self-taught photographer who grew up in California’s San Fernando Valley. He received his B.A. in American History from the University of San Francisco in 2006, and currently works as a paralegal in New York City. His images draw upon the landscapes of mid-twentieth century Americana and is influenced by the visual style of giallo films of the 1970s.

Wait for Dark

Only within the past decade has the power of nostalgia been studied as a coping mechanism for anxiety and depression, where a repository of positive memories can be used as an antidote for states of loneliness and alienation. But what if disturbing imagery, a state of discomfort, albeit temporary and viewed voluntarily, became ironically associated with one’s nostalgic experience? In my adolescence, I would wait for my parents, Filipino immigrants imbued with strong Catholic values, to retire to bed so that I could surreptitiously watch horror films. It began with Stephen King’s Carrie, then Rosemary’s Baby, followed in later years by Dario Argento’s Suspiria. The lush and dramatic use of colors featuring a strong-willed female protagonist became rooted in my subconscious.

This ongoing series began in the suburbs of San Francisco, crossed through the summer heat of small Texas towns and currently extends to the liminal spaces in the Tri-State area. There are no overt references to horror films. The cinematic deaths were terrifying as a child, but growing up you soon realize that the confusion of life can be much worse – the ambiguity of an empty unfamiliar room at night more frightening than a kitchen knife in broad daylight. When I moved to New York City, I found myself in a new environment attempting to cope with unfamiliar surroundings. Eventually, I tried to create something familiar. Beauty can be just as personal as fear.

To view more of James’ work please visit his website.