I think those are the key words of the trip. :)
Los Angeles... well, I've been meaning to visit for a while now. Back in 2006 when I found Chris' work it made me look at photography in a completely different way. I was sixteen and my biggest photographic inquisition was how I could create out-of-focus areas in my photos because with my camera at the time it was not possible. I was shooting with a little point and shoot which back then I thought was as high-end as cameras got. Shortly after discovering Chris' work I bought some camera equipment and was now able to create out-of-focus areas in my photos whenever I wanted. It's been an incredibly memorable five years since then looking back... and it's amazing how it all roots back in one way or another to finding Chris' work.
We developed a friendship through the Internet which transitioned into phone conversations about all sorts of things and advice on real-world work as I had started getting jobs shooting. Finally five years later, we hung out and shot together. How many people can say they've done that with their first inspiration? It's funny because I was meeting many of his friends who I had been familiar with through his blogs in Toronto at the film festival. And now I met him. It goes without saying that it was a great feeling and I had an amazing time. I'm amazed at what the Internet can do and the doors it can open.
I also found Sev's work through Chris' blog (that link brings back some good nostalgia) and it was amazing to meet and shoot with such a talented person. Sev and I got along really well (it must be the Euro connection) and I think his passion for photography is from another planet. He's an amazing dude... and I think we're gonna get R.S.H.N. tattoos after this trip. ;)
I was very appreciative of Frank Jackson's work after seeing the street photography video and meeting him was a totally amazing experience as well. I love his approach to photography and he really is a true character. Meeting people like Richard Polom, Nhat Nguyen, Andy Bond, Paul Posadas, Andres Izquieta, Michael Hacker and everyone else was also very amazing and surreal at the same time. The Internet is an incredible thing and it was so cool how it brought us all together.
I only shot film with my Zeiss Ikon coupled with my Zeiss Biogon 35mm f/2 lens as well as Chris' Leica Noctilux 50mm f/1.0. I left LA with 14 rolls of a mix of Kodak Tri-X, Plus-X and Rollei Pan 25. I developed and scanned them about a week ago but going through all the photos and trying to sequence them is very tough. Especially for a trip that I believe was very important and memorable.
Out of the 504 photos, there are close to 300 in this blog... which is a pretty good ratio I think. I posted more than every other photo I took there and I maybe should have cut it down but I hope you'll enjoy it. I will do a feature for my dot com of about the 20 best photos... that will be super hard to choose so if you have suggestions I'd love to hear. But for the blog close to 300 is fine. ;)
Beginning with my mom who dropped me off at the airport. By the way, if you open these images in a new tab/window they will be about 100 pixels bigger... I just had to size them down to fit in the body of this blog layout without getting cut off.
I was just in Florida for a full week and returned to Toronto a day before I left for LA so I was kind of exhausted of being on planes back-to-back. But the view was nice with the clouds... 1/2 second exposure.
I arrived to Chris' place late at night and thought the doormat was pretty fitting to his sense of humor. :)
We went to bed soon after I arrived because it was already pretty late and the next morning we were off to Chinatown for the first day of Street is Serious. LA's Chinatown is way cleaner than Toronto's and doesn't smell like a R.S.H.N. either... I was pretty impressed actually. We were walking to a restaurant to meet up with everybody. Funny how these people didn't feel like strangers...
This next picture is SO Picasso body shop... :)
In between chatting I took some photos of whatever was around me. I was trying not to think too hard about what I was shooting and filtering out photos in my head which I do in Toronto. While in LA I constantly reminded myself that I was only there for four days so I should shoot as much as possible. I find that a lot of the times judgments change anyways and a photo that wouldn't have "made the cut" in my first draft of selects would end up in the second.
Shooting street there was really really fun. I found that no one really payed attention to it even though at times they were getting photo-gangbanged. I guess everyone there wants to be an actor or director. Even these ladies. ;)
I thought this was an odd scene with awkward body language.
What an awkward position... there were a lot of kids in LA... lots of wannabe child stars. ;)
I love this photo. Look at the look on her face... maybe they were enemies in a past life?
Notice the four legs and feet?
Lunch break in the parking lot?
We also have a College Street in Toronto and ours is part of Chinatown too.
After a few hours we went back to Chris' house and I had to make at least one "pretty" photo for my Mom. :) She thinks it should have been in color... maybe she's right. But I actually took zero color photos while I was there.
Later that night I met up with Richard and we walked along Sunset Blvd. which I thought would be super packed and full of people and parties but it was literally deserted. It was actually a really bizarre feeling and very unexpected. It was also freezing...
This ad would definitely not fly in Canada...
After over an hour of walking and some great conversations and stories, we decided it was too cold to stay out and shoot even for us Canadians. I was on my way back to Chris' house around 1:30am but I got lost since the streets in this neighborhood are dark and it was my first time getting there. It was really quite a trip to be lost by myself at that time on Sunset Blvd. I felt almost like I was on set in a movie or something.
This "Chapel" was very strange to me. I can imagine there being a meth lab in the basement or something. Weird vibe.
The streets in LA were surprisingly really dark at night... and there were lots of weird things to be seen, but I finally made it back with some GPS navigation help from my girlfriend in Toronto. ;)
The next morning walked to the subway to head to Hollywood Blvd.
This scene was to be expected.
Not sure which one I like better...?
This is probably one of my favorites as well. I love the film in the background... very Hollywood. And I love the division of the photo into three's from all directions.
Typical scene when we got out. She told me that the actress had the same name as her and they were looking for that star all day... I forget who's it was.
There is a very subtle detail in this photo which is the only reason I took it. This would look incredible as a big print.
Awkward scene in Hollywood. And a cool trench coat and car. ;)
It was Oscar weekend after all:
Interesting position. I think she was trying to find a lighter.
Classic west coast car. I wish it was Snoop in it though. ;)
I thought this was a very Hollywood-type photo.
Dazed and confused in Hollywood.
We wandered into some sort of market off of Hollywood Blvd. Totally different vibe.
I wonder if this woman really shops at H&M? I'm not sure if she is really their "target market."
I love his this man and the young girl are almost the same size. Kind of an awkward pair I think.
Found my way back to Hollywood Blvd. but lost the group for a while... found some short grannies.
This chick was yelling from her car to stop taking pictures. Hilarious!
Found a Banksy. Felt like taking a mirror shot almost. ;)
Where are all the celebs?! Either that or they weren't sure where they were going.
Moved the group to Olvera Street.
Took a ride with Chris, Jamie, Sev, Brenna and Richard... the LA way. 3 up front. :)
Took the bus at some point too but I can't remember when... I think Chris has a video of me taking this photo.
And this one too...
After a few hours Chris, Sev, Richard, Michael and I went to Echo Park to shoot. Grabbing Richard from his hotel... not sure what these dudes were doing.
This is for my friend Russell. :)
1/2 second exposure... not easy. But I think the mood comes across.
There were a lot of punks out this night.
I found some life on Sunset... I think this shows how dead it was.
Punks vs. police. Not sure what happened...
Sketchy taped together car. Someone was getting out of the backseat right as I took this. I'm telling you, Sunset Blvd. is a strange place...
Love the items in the car. The cross is what makes it for me.
Could never forget I was in America. :)
I thought this said LA PRESS at first and that's why I took the shot because I liked the juxtaposition between that and the "DEAD" tag on the other side. It was intended to be a commentary on the state of the press. But I found out after I scanned it that it actually says "LA XPRESS" ... I think it still works though.
Weird situation on Sunset.
Went into a restaurant to get some food. Had an amazing red velvet cupcake but this place had a weird vibe for me. Switching to Chris' Nocti right now. Shooting 1.0 saved me in these lighting conditions. Two shots... I think I like the second one better.
The next day Sev and I went downtown. Jamie was so awesome and dropped us off. Thanks Jamie. :) This was very American:
I actually love that this dude didn't want me to take his picture. Looks cool this way.
We found another Banksy.
I like how his face is in shadow... subtle detail but I think it makes the shot.
This seemed to be a common thing with the pay phones in LA.
This is one of my favorite photos I think...
What compels someone to do this?! I don't think this was her "weekend hobby" either. I'm just glad she didn't bite/scratch me. ;)
JESUS SAVES. Sev and I made a joke that the ultimate street photo would be to have the LA Jesus running out of this building on fire with a girl in his arms, saving her from the flames. So I guess this shot is a work in progress for now. ;) At least we have the location scouted.
I love this guy's physique.
I needed this license plate on film. :)
This woman was scraping the gum off of that...
Sev made a new friend with this dude who was showing us his camera...
Switching to the Nocti now. This lens is really something else... all at f/1.0. It's not easy focusing that on a moving subject. Even if he was moving slow. ;) Love the jacket and the Dickies.
The light here was great... my girlfriend thought this was with a tilt/shift. Just f/1.0... :)
Another photo for my Mom. :)
Said ciao to Sev after this and put back my 35/2 to shoot a bit more downtown. I love this photo for some reason but I'm still not really sure why... it just really reminds me of downtown.
I asked her how to get back to Silver Lake and she told me she used to be a photographer. She wanted to take pictures of me so I gave her my Zeiss... they weren't bad! Better than I thought they would be.
Got back to Silver Lake at night and had to kill some time until Chris got home. I think Sunset Blvd. was my favorite place to shoot in LA.
Weird grass on the sidewalk...
I think this is one of my favorite photos from LA.
I met up with Chris when he got home and we went to our friend Natalie's Oscar after party. It was nice to see everybody who I only see at the Toronto International Film Festival in a different environment and in LA this time. Paul edited my photos a few years ago during TIFF but he wasn't there last year. Hope to see him in September.
Mario! I knew Mario's face from Chris' blogs and the street video and when I saw him in the hotel for the film fest two years ago I went up to him and told him I just watched the video the day before. We ended up shooting Drew Barrymore beside each other a few days after that at my university's theatre. Mario's an awesome guy and another inspiring shooter and I'm glad we got to hang out both in Toronto and in LA. Again, the connecting power of the Internet absolutely amazes me.
Mario's lovely girlfriend Heather with Mike who's also a wicked photographer.
Jamie and Sev:
The next day was my last in LA so I said goodbye to Chris, Jamie and Sev in the morning because they were going to the desert to shoot and I had some things I had to do before my flight. I had a meeting with someone during the day and then had to lock up my luggage before heading to LAX so I went to Venice Beach to kill the last few hours and because I was curious what it was like. Actually, it was not at all what I expected. It was pretty dead but it may have been because of the weather.
It was seriously windy that day. No wonder Venice Beach was kind of deserted.
I love how he's flipping me off. :)
These "doctors" were everywhere in Venice Beach... literally every other store.
Another very American car.
Check out the hand... :) This would be a cool big print too.
This trip was really memorable and amazing on so many different levels. It was incredible meeting everybody who was there and being able to hang out and shoot with the person who inspired me to get into photography was just amazing. It's hard to put it into words. I was looking forward to meeting Angelo from deviantART to thank him for that site... but hopefully next time! Huge thank you Jamie and Chris for the hospitality... it was such a pleasure & I appreciate it. I can't wait to go back to LA again... shooting there was so much fun.
While I'm on the topic of how cool it is to meet people from Uber (RIP), dA, etc... Dan Entwistle was in Toronto for a few months and I got to hang out and shoot with him a few times and Dmitry Koupriyanov and I have become good friends. I will also be hanging out with Philip Schulte for dinner & shooting in a few hours in Toronto. Seems pretty amazing to me.
PS - I did a cleaner edit of a smaller selection of my LA photos on my website.