Dominique James, Photographer

It's all about the pictures …

Great minds visualize alike …

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The Tale Of Two Buildings

A Tale Of Two Buildings: A side-by-side comparison of two photo images of two different buildings to show its striking similarities, as well as differences.


“Great minds think alike!”

No doubt, it is a positive and uplifting truism, one that is said out aloud and a lot—mostly as unbridled expression of happy coincidences in moments that warrants it. Simple and direct, it is a phrase that aptly punctuates, with a significant exclamation point, many of life’s suddenly joyous eventualities.

However, woe unto us mortals, because unfortunately, no one actually remembers or knows from whom and from where that oft-quoted phrase originally came from. Lost in the mist of time is the definitive identity of the one wise man who first uttered it. In a sense, the very idea in itself, has become public domain[1]. There has been a number of brave attempts at mindful attribution, but in these days of the wild and wooly Internet, such can be deemed half-hearted and none too credible. So, reliably, whenever it comes up, it is best generally attributed to none other than “Anon.”[2]

I bring up this fascinating phrase because it was what immediately came to mind, perhaps as a matter of rightful inspiration, when not too long ago I was absently browsing the Internet, that I saw, for the first time, a picture that struck a deepest essence of my core[3].

It was a picture of a building.

I’ve seen countless pictures of buildings, some ornate, some historic, some, well, looks like—a buildings, or not. This picture of the building I saw was quite simple. But what struck me with this particular photo was that it looked almost the same as the picture of a building I recently photographed[4]. It’s not exactly the same, as you can see in the photo above, but despite the obvious differences in angle, theme, point-of-view, color, treatment, among others, I couldn’t help but be struck by its somewhat uncanny and essential similarity.

As such, I find it fascinating. To me at least, it’s a marvel of coincidence. I mean, how often can such a thing happen? Having been a professional photographer for more than 25 years, and I have photographed all sorts of things, and I actually can’t remember when was the last time something like this has happened.

The image I photographed (on the left) was for a commercial assignment, the facade of a newly named Filipino restaurant in Jersey City, New Jersey, called “Side Grill.”[5] Using an ultrawide, full-frame lens, I photographed it right in the front corner of the restaurant’s facade, in the middle of winter, as the last of the day’s light was about to be enveloped by darkness. The image was post-processed on Apple’s Aperture 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS5. The image that looks oddly and strangely similar (on the left), is a fine art photo taken by another photographer whom I personally do not know[6], with an iPhone’s camera that showed a similar angle and composition, but of a different building, in a different location, and post-processed in an entirely different way.

When confronted with two or more similar-looking photographs, it is but natural to make immediate comparisons and judgements. That seems to be the natural tendency, at least when looking at comparable pictures. And, I can understand and see why viewers might quickly decide which one they like best. But, I just want to make sure and say that I’m not showing these photos side-by-side because I am asking for you to decide which photo you like best, other than to share with you its striking similarity, perhaps in the same way that I first saw it when I did.

If you think about it, it actually doesn’t make sense to decide if one is better than the other. That kind of judgement, to say the least, is subjective. Not only is it notoriously dependent on the individual eye of the beholder (acting naturally as its own curator), but we also have to take into consideration the circumstances and the primary purpose with which the photograph was taken. In all and in particular cases, enveloped in a properly defined context, one will always be suitably better than the other.

In any case, it is not every day that I come across an amazing serendipity such as this. I’m happy I came across the other photographer’s picture, and I don’t mind discovering more similarities among my work[7] with that of others.

And so, just to paraphrase the line, “great minds think alike,” at this point I’m inclined to say that “great minds visualize alike!”

Note: I’ve had the delightful pleasure of photographing Side Grill’s delicious food for their first major promotional campaign. The entire shoot project was done and completed with a collaborator, Dennis Altobar. Together, we’ve photographed (on site) almost 50 mouth-watering dishes prepared by noted Filipino chef, Herman Villadolid, within the span of a week. (And that was quite a treat!) We’ve also photographed Side Grill’s restaurant interior and exterior during the day, and at night time. Many of the pictures are now featured in Side Grill’s beautiful and elegant website, serving as a counterpoint to the fantastic logo designed by Mark Gonzales[8]. Some of the food photographs are individually featured as the main visual element of full-color posters and all other collateral promo materials designed by the creative artists of The Studio. These posters and promo materials has been professionally printed by Marisse Panlilio[9] of MPGrafx.

[1] Which, if you think about it, isn’t a bad idea at all!
[2] Anon, if you must know, sands for anonymous.
[3] Ok, that’s definitely hyperbole right there, but I can’t resist.
[4] Together with Dennis Altobar.
[5] Side Grill Restaurant is located at 561 West Side Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey 07304. You can call 201-360-2161 for inquiries. Visit their website at for more.
[6] I saw the image on Tumblr.
[7] Including the works of my collaborators such as Dennis Altobar.
[8] You can view the works of Mark Gonzales at his website and you can email him at
[9] Marisse Panlilio can be reached at

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