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“Sunset” Jimmy Casares Jr.: Captured

By Jennifer Moulaison | Photos by Jimmy Casares Jr.

As the day melts away in Santa Cruz, those wise enough to be outdoors and cast their gaze westward are unfailingly rewarded with spectacular sunsets. One so wise, thanks to a stint tending bar at a seaside haunt, is Jimmy Casares Jr. The establishment’s nightly ritual of ringing a bell as the sun met the ocean’s horizon encouraged everyone there to stop what they were doing and watch the sunset. When it came time to leave bartending behind in pursuit of a career, Casares credits those sunsets for leading him to a rewarding career behind the camera.

The defining moment, according to Casares, occurred eight years ago, while driving alongside a vineyard in Santa Rosa with his mother. Knowing Casares’ affinity for the camera and ability to capture natural beauty, his mother convinced him to pull over and photograph the sun setting just beyond the vineyard. “My family has always pooled around me and have always wanted to support me and whatever makes me feel my best,” he says.

Casares’ work is untraditional in style and has maintained consistent vein of boldness over the years. “I’m telling a story with the intention of giving a very distinct feeling. I want to convey the energy of a moment. The way a sunset can make you to stop what you’re doing and take something in, I want my photos to have a similar impact,” he says. This has earned him the pseudonym Sunset Jimmy. “My shots aren’t for everyone, but I always want them to be something everyone can respect,” he explains.

As his style continues to evolve, Casares still looks back to that image taken from the roadside while with his mother. “To this day, this is the most significant photo I’ve ever taken,” says Casares. “Not only is it visually exceptional, it spurred my decision to dedicate myself to photography, and I’ve never been happier.”


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