It was a love of the two greatest things in life – pizza and travel – that served as the catalyst for the latest project of Australian photographer Ho Hai Tran and his collaborator Chloe Cahill. They’ve journeyed around the world taking photos of repurposed Pizza Hut buildings, as identified by their iconic angular roofs.
The Pizza Hunt photography project has taken them over 14,000 kilometres, from Cabramatta to Key Largo, to take pictures of the ‘second lives’ of almost 100 Pizza Huts – from grocery stores to pawnshops; gospel churches and mortuaries. They’re now started a Kickstarter campaign, which ends this week, to raise funds to self-publish a carefully curated selection of the photographs as a book.
Their Pizza Hunt project is an ode to the all-you-can-eat restaurants of yesteryear, born from the nostalgia of their youth. “In the golden era of dine-in fast food, these buildings were built in their thousands and it’s clear from speaking with people all over the world, and from our own memories, the impact they made on daily life in the towns and cities where they sprang up. They’re recognisable the world over and the universality of the sentiment towards them is quite unique too,” says Cahill.
The photos are intended to evoke similar feelings of nostalgia in those who identify with the venture. “In our travels, everyone we spoke to about the project had their own fond memories of Pizza Hut’s dessert bar, tablecloths, low lighting and the bacon bits. It’s cool to see how photos of these buildings bring these memories to the surface.”
When it comes to their favourite re-purposed building, they couldn’t go past the book’s cover star. “We have several favourite Pizza Hut buildings, but one that stands out is the ‘Copycat’ hut, which will be on the cover of the first edition book. In our research we found some real estate listings and knew the building had changed hands several times, so we weren’t even sure if it was still there. We drove two hours to the location in darkness so that we could shoot at sunrise. When we arrived, we couldn’t believe it was still there, looking so iconic and so like a hut despite some alterations. Ho shot it as the sun rose.”
In terms of their future plans, they plan to expand to project until it’s fully global, and perhaps document each and every remaining Pizza Hut building in the world. “We know there are huts in South America which would be a dream to document and we would love to be able to venture further afield once we make the book documenting our travels to date.”
(Photos: Ho Hai Tran/Supplied)
To donate to the Pizza Hunt Kickstarter campaign, click here.