People often complain that Los Angeles is an ugly city with no character, which is not really true, unless you’ve had the grave misfortune at seeing the city from the monstrosity that is the Hollywood and Highland structure. To see LA, you really have to dig in and look. And that’s exactly what Kevin McCollister, aka East of West LA, does, one photo at a time.
McCollister was e a poet some time ago, and it’s actually quite fitting: his photos convey an almost poetic side of the city that we often miss during our stop-and-go traffic patterns. Los Angeles, I think, is best at night, after the bar crowd has gone home, when you’ll encounter more cabs than passenger vehicles. This, for me, is the only time you’ll really, really see Los Angeles, as if someone finally tidied it up a bit so you can see the city underneath the busy, unorganized stacks of people and traffic. McCollister often walks – yes, walks – the city at night-slash-the early hours of the morning; so many of his photos capture scenes full of still objects, everyday props waiting to be used. Other times, he captures people startlingly devoid of their surroundings – just subjective close-ups of his subjects.
McCollister always is nice enough to upload his photos on Blogging LA’s Flickr pool, which is where I ran into his work initially. And, for those of us who love Flickr but love the hard copies even more, McCollister collected 55 choice photos for his book, East of West LA. The progression of photos is interesting – vast statements of facts (landscapes, bridges, chairs waiting to be used, ripped billboards) are immediately followed a page or two later with single portraits of a man or woman. The places removed of the people, and the people removed from their places, give both a fascinating new context that forces you listen to the quiet. And if you need an endorsement from someone other than yours truly, the Zen Master himself, Phil Jackson, has a blurb on the back cover.
I love McCollister’s photos. See more of his work on his website and, if you want a nice book of photos to round our your coffee table, ask him about his book.
All photos courtesy East of West LA via the Blogging LA Flickr pool.