It’s always been hard to find the right words to explain my love for Los Angeles. Especially when being asked to compare it to London, which is why I thought that I’d try and portray it in the only way I knew how - photography.
As silly as it sounds, I had never really thought of photographing LA. Photography for me was a method of exploration. Exploring the cities I’ve travelled to & the people I’ve met through the medium of black and white film. Every time I’m home [Los Angeles] I’m there to unwind, to relax and to focus on getting my mind back on track. It seemed monotonous and comfortable hence why I never thought that it was worth documenting. It was just LA. It was normal.
But this year I’ve gone through a lot. I’ve done a lot of self discovery. I’ve focused on my art, I’ve cut off toxic people, I’ve travelled more so than the previous year. I’ve met new people, I’ve loved new people, I’ve lost new people. Through all of it, both thick and thin, I’ve realized that California is a part of me. The water, the lighting, the sun - It all affects me, it’s all shaped me into the person I am.
California isn’t just this safe space for me to run to every time I feel broken - it’s also the most beautiful place in the whole fucking world. From sunrise to sunset, I spent every waking second there completely overwhelmed by how much I appreciate my life.
So I thought it was time to pick up my camera and document that.
“Shoot Portra!" My film-loving friends would cry.
“Capture those Californian blues! The pinks! The yellows!”
“If you’re going to LA you haaaaave to shoot some Portra 400”.
I get it. I understand. Those stereotypical California pastels seems like a dream to be able to photograph. A definite change from the muddy grey tones you find back here in London. But unfortunately that’s just not me.
I’m shooting in black & white until I die.
So I packed up 10 rolls of Ilford HP5 grabbed my Contax G1 (which would soon be joined by a Nikon FE2) and boarded that 11 hour flight to paradise.
My workflow is definitely different when I’m in LA. I shoot at a slower pace, meaning I focus much more on the composition and purpose behind each photograph. In London, I’m on rapid fire. I can easily shoot 10 rolls in one night because it’s a coping mechanism. The more I shoot the better I feel. It’s the best drug I’ve ever been addicted to. But for this trip, I wanted to slow it down. I wanted to put more care & more love into it. I wanted to shoot for myself, to immortalise my memories, and there’s no reason to rush that.
Usually, I’ll develop a roll as soon as I shoot it. I process all of my film by myself so it’s easy to shoot a roll and have the photos ready on the same day, but I didn’t have any equipment out there and I especially didn’t want to jeopardise a day of good surf by being locked away in one of those community darkrooms. So I waited. Some rolls kept for almost 3 months, and I just kept shooting. I ran 5 rolls through my Nikon FE2 before I even knew whether it worked or not.
I spent most of my time in Malibu, which was a nice change. I’m usually cooped up in the homestretch of Laurel Canyon (located in the beautiful Hollywood Hills) but I wasn’t complaining. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of photographing the beach.
This is only the first part of my Endless Summer series. I’m back in California in just a few weeks, ready to shoot some more.
It’s only bigger and better from here.