This post is long overdue and it’s gonna be a long one, but after many, many weeks of some serious hard drive issues – I cannot stress enough to have multiple backups of your work – I’m finally coming up for air and was able to find some time to edit the LA shots. That is, after the data recovery place managed to recover about 85% of what hadn’t already been backed up to my offsite storage place. So, I got most, but not all, of the work I made while in LA for the week. Sigh…
Anyway, enough about those un-fun issues and onto the photos! I arrived in LA a couple of days before the workshop to scout a few new locations that I was considering adding to the workshop and just see some spots that are a bit out of the way that I haven’t photographed before.
My first scouting stop was the new Academy of Motion Pictures Museum. It’s an interesting museum but doesn’t have a lot of options photographically (there’s a shot later in this post from here). At least, in my opinion. However, I did get sidetracked with a Richard Serra installation at the neighboring LACMA. His massive sculptures are always so much fun to photograph, Band was no exception. Here are two favorites from my visit.
Then for a couple of shots of LACMA, designed by Renzo Piano. These shapes are always so fun and playful and feel a little like pop art.
A bit out of the way, I stopped by the Compton Civic Center Plaza with the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Memorial being my main interest. The sculpture, designed by Gerald Gladstone, is meant to suggest the mountaintop Martin Luther King Jr evoked in his ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech.
Now, getting to our actual workshop days!
Workshop – Day 1
Our first stop was the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels designed by Rafael Moneo. The cathedral is built in the form of a crucifix, made of acute and obtuse angles and devoid of right angles. His use of alabaster, as opposed to the more typical stained glass, is meant to give it a sense of glowing. It’s also the largest use of alabaster in the country. This element is more noticeable from the interior.
From the exterior, the warm sandstone facade contrasts nicely with the vivid blue sky.
Next up, The Broad designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. This year was the first time I took a workshop group inside. So glad we did, this space is so fantastic! Dubbed the veil and the vault – the slatted windows allow for filtered natural light within the gallery space. On the 1st and 2nd floors is the “vault” area, where works not on display are stored. From the 2nd floor, you can even peek inside this area to see how they store the works. Pretty cool!
The “veil” is probably my favorite aspect of the design to photograph. From the 3rd floor looking up at the ceiling or walls, you get this great, subtle light and nice combination of angles and curves.
A fun bonus in here are the Jeff Koons’ pieces that are super colorful and reflective. The patterns from the ceiling reflected in them make for some fun abstractions. Add in a little ICM and you get even more abstract takes.
Onto the exterior and more shots of the “veil”.
The rest of the day was spent in Culver City’s Hayden Tract with some wacky designs by Eric Own Moss. The favorite of just about everyone is his Waffle building which is home to the high-end restaurant Vespertine. Great color and geometry with this one! Not to mention the color contrast of the orange with the vivid blue skies.
Next, the Pterodactyl building. More interesting geometry.
A neighboring building I can’t seem to find the name of but had some nice shadowplay, curves and angles.
Stealth was the next one on the list. A very heavy and massive building with some fantastic geometry.
One more – Samitaur. Love the industrial feel of this coupled with its curviness. Which, I feel, softens it up a bit.
Workshop – Day 2
Back to downtown LA and a stop by the Morphosis design of the Caltrans Building. I can never really decide how I feel about most Morphosis buildings. They feel like modern-day brutalism. While brutalism is typically defined by concrete and this building is steel, it still has that massive, oppressive, almost dystopian vibe. Regardless of how you feel about it, there are still some details that are nice to isolate.
A short walk away, the SOM designed Los Angeles Federal Courthouse. The design feels simple but the way the light catches the fins on the facade + the steel mosaic on the underside of the overhang make for a clean and elegant design.
No trip to LA is complete without spending a good amount of time at Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall – both outside and inside.
Whether taking advantage of the fantastic clouds we lucked out with or filling the frame with the juxtaposition of curves and angles, there are always beautiful takes to capture of this stunner.
Gehry’s designs typically have a sense of motion, in this case, meant to symbolize musical movement and the motion of LA. It is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, afterall.
Couldn’t resist a capture of this along with his new residential building across the street + a solo shot of that new building. IMO, not as interesting or fun to shoot but worth a couple of shots. Plus, those clouds – amazing!
Moving to the backside of the building, which is the one part of the building that has some of the shiny surface remaining. So you get this nice textural contrast between matte and shiny.
When the building was first completed it was all shiny, but the heat and reflections that were bouncing off the facade were causing some issues with the surrounding buildings and even flights going over the area. Hence the matting of the surface.
Heading inside – more great contrasts between curves and angles.
Moving over to a few museums to end our day – LACMA, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, and the Petersen Automotive Museum.
You saw some LACMA shots from my pre-workshop stop. Here are a couple from the Academy Museum. Both designed by Renzo Piano. The most interesting feature is definitely this walkway. It’s fun to capture the shadows of people walking across it. But it sure takes a lot of shots to get the right alignment!
The rest of the day and into blue hour was spent at the Petersen Automotive Museum designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox. The facade of the museum draws inspiration from the motion of cars and feels like a racetrack.
This was the first time I’ve shot this at blue hour and it’s so pretty – those color contrasts are fantastic! Plus, a little fun with ICM 🙂
Workshop – Day 3
Our final day started with what is quite possibly my favorite place in all of Los Angeles – The Getty Center designed by Richard Meier. There’s so much to explore here. Of course, our focus was the architecture but as a space to spend time in, it’s worth checking out the galleries and just relaxing in the gardens – they’re beautiful! The whole place feels like an oasis.
The curvilinear form is derived from the contours of the freeway, metropolitan grid & natural topography. It’s made of aluminum coated with a thick polymer and travertine limestone quarried from Italy (the same used in the Roman Colosseum).
As for the photos, we spent about 45 minutes outside the front entrance. This area is one of my favorites, the curves, and interplay of the white building along with the blue sky is always a soothing color combo. This area has been dubbed the “piano curve”, pretty sure you can see why.
The shots above are similar to what I’ve done here before. These next three were a bit different than past visits. It’s always nice to find new ways to see subjects that have been visited numerous times.
We then spent about a half-hour inside the main entrance. I love this space too. The contrasting textures and, again, the curves & angles contrast. I had one shot I really liked from this area and it was lost in my hard drive failure…so disappointing. Hopefully, I can recreate it on my next visit, but in the meantime, here are a few takes.
I decided to shoot super wide in here, around 12mm, which is rare for me. But it’s always a good idea to get out of your typical comfort zone and try to see things differently. At least, occasionally 😉
Just outside the main lobby, more curve/angle combos.
One more area here, more geometrically and travertine focused. Yet, another favorite. There really is no bad space to photograph here.
Then we headed back downtown for the rest of the day with a bunch of stops by some of the great sculptures and public art. First up, Double Ascension by Herbert Bayer.
Initially, everyone was super hesitant and uninterested in shooting this. I think we were all just feeling tired from a busy couple of days. However, I pushed them to give it a try and then I had a hard time getting them to leave, lol.
It’s vibrant color makes it best kept in color but I had one shot I liked in BW.
About a block away, we headed to the Westin Bonaventure by John Portman. Known for bringing the atrium lobby concept to LA. He’s designed so many hotels, many that are now Hyatt’s, interestingly enough – San Francisco, Atlanta, Milwaukee, and I’m sure many others. But once you know his style, it’s hard to miss.
However, I didn’t really focus on the main atrium, instead one of the four staircases and the overlapping curves and, you guessed it, angles!
A look at the exterior.
Onto the last two stops of the workshop – two sculptures.
Mind, Body, Spirit by Gideon Graetz. The silver and bronze tones + its reflective surface can make for some fun details and abstractions.
The final stop and sculpture – Ulysses by Alexander Liberman. His motto – “More is More” in direct opposition to Mies Van der Rohe’s “Less is More”. Such a battle of wills, lol.
The motion of the sculpture is meant to offer a stark contrast to the rigid surrounding buildings and evoke a sense of movement and energy. It’s a tangled web of curves that offers endless compositional possibilities and is one of my favorite LA subjects.
I’ll end with one of my favorite shots of the weekend. I think I most liked the very soft, subtle warm and cool tones reflected in the sculpture’s white surface.
If you made it this far in the post, thank you! I know it’s a crazy long one. And, if you missed the student images – head over here for a recap of some of their shots.