"Some places exist beyond the physical confines of their geography. They exist in the mind, in the spirit. They have a soul."
I just passed a pretty significant milestone in my academic career. I presented my Mid Point Review to my thesis committee, and my Hollywood project was approved. That means I can continue working on this project in directed study.
For my final, I need to produce an "iconic image," one that encapsulated my concept for the work, and that would serve as a catalyst to further development. It was a hard task: which Hollywood to capture?
To answer that question, I went back to the beginning. I read the first words I ever wrote about this project, way back in October of last year. I had just started shooting with the Diana. Hollywood was still unfamiliar terrain. Even then I knew I sought something elusive. I knew there was more to this place than the culture of celebrity and the theater of the streets. I was drawn by the soft molding of the light at sunset, and the pockets of transcendent calm amidst the chaos.
I spent the last nine months searching for these things, the elements that communicate the feeling of this place, its light and well as its dark. I managed to show Hollywood’s various faces, from callous to absurd. And shooting this week, I saw them all. Amidst all this, I wondered, is it possible to capture the heart beneath the surface?
Like all great portrait takers, I waited for the right light, the right moment, and the right heart. One of my former professors, himself a renowned portraitist, would say that the secret to his success photographing female models was that in the instant he pressed the shutter, he was in love. And that’s how it was with me.
I love this place. I love how the sun paints the streets like honey. I love the lights that invade the sky. I love the people: their hopes, their crazy, their despair. I love its soul. That is what I saw last week, one quiet afternoon as the sun was slowly making its way into the Pacific. I saw this moment. And in that instant, I was in love.