There’s ample opportunity to capture the soul of a city on its pavements. As with a stage, that’s where the living takes place. Walking the streets and outskirts of Los Angeles proves to be very fulfilling. These photographs were predominantly taken in the hip, vintage car-lined streets of Silverlake and Los Feliz, the coastal tourist traps of Santa Monica and Venice Beach, the gritty stretch of Downtown, and the infamously tinseled Hollywood.
The city is alive and vibrant with color, crowds (and, subsequently, some eccentricity), and culture – as a film fan, growing up on a steady diet of all that is happening in Hollywood, the city of angels both surprised and delivered, yet in a different way than I had imagined. Lurking around Hollywood, I stumbled upon a Dia de Los Muertos Festival in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which offered a completely novel experience of commemorating the dead.
In a city renowned for its diverse cultures and chastised for its sprawling distances, one thing that is noticeable is the sense of unity in spite of current obstacles. I was staying in Los Feliz, which is luckily very central, and I found the neighborhood streets brimming with character. Discarded memories in cardboard boxes, tiny family-run restaurants, 70’s trimmed hedges complete with 70’s style apartment blocks.
Santa Monica Pier was a dream scene for street photography: an overwhelming amalgamation of color, sounds, and Americana theme-park pride. This is the America I imagined as a child. Everyone seems bombarded by the over-stimulation of senses, yet you can’t leave because there’s just too much to see, hear, and taste all at once.
Just up the coastal way sits the tranquil oasis of the Getty Villa – a semi-bizarre ode to classical Greek and Roman sculpture situated on a hillside surrounded by trees and roaming deer. There, the silence sets in. And that’s the beauty of this big sun-kissed city, the drastic change in scenery from one street or neighborhood to another, even if they’re situated right next to one another.
Many of the photographs in this series can be described as “atmospheric,” more of a still slice of life than an event or action, because I found those moments of stepping back particularly engrossing. So many of the homes, streets, and neighborhoods I stumbled upon seemed as if they came straight out of my favorite films, and often it was because they literally were locations for films.
Snippets of vintage cars parked in the afternoon sun, diners and the people inside them, art galleries, and the architectural pops of color all over: this is what caught my attention during this busy yet relaxed autumn in Los Angeles.
It’s also a complete amalgamation of the individuals adding their own stamp to a place, brought to light, literally, by a sun that never seems to stop burning harshly, and the ensuing dark shadows that add contrast. I managed to meet some of the craziest, friendliest, most generous and most interesting individuals here.
“Individuals” is the perfect word for them: they make up the the USA of individualism and personality. These photographs capture some of the familiar faces around Los Angeles – Nicci St Bruce in her pink haven in Santa Monica, Natasha Loring recreating the 70’s in Silverlake, Gary Baseman in his fantastical Fairfax studio – and the vivid color these subjects bring to this scorching city.
These photographs were taken in Los Angeles in October 2018, all on 35mm analogue film (a combination of Agfa Vista 200, 400 and Kodak Gold) on a Nikon F5. You can keep up with Gabriella’s work here.