10 PLACES TO PHOTOGRAPH IN L.A., BY ÍÑIGO DE AMESCUA

By Iñigo Amescua | Intro: Cristina Álvarez Cañas. November 22, 2012

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The warmth of the American dream from which you do not want to wake up. Raise your hand if, like in Jim Dodge’s book 'Not Fade Away', you have pictured yourself driving down a byroad in the American West. Or driving aimlessly through Los Angeles like Ryan Gosling in the renowned film 'Drive'. This impressive city located by the San Andreas Fault and founded in 1781 by the Spanish, is a pilgrimage centre. This crossroads between the Spanish and English speaking worlds harbours many myths of the 20th century popular culture and hides a relaxed charm, 'widthways', very different to that of the almighty and cosmopolitan New York. After living some time in the East Coast and visually worshipping the Big Apple, Iñigo de Amescua made his headway to the other side of the country last summer. This photographer from Madrid has selected his ten essential places –with their corresponding references– to photograph for all those who dare to go beyond the Great Canyon.

 

"The light crushes down on you, but that is California"


1. The Griffith Observatory. Its railings overlook most of the city of Los Angeles… the view is so wide that you can see the horizon curving in the distance, the Hollywood sign on a neighbouring hill and the spirit of James Dean with his red jacket from Rebel Without a Cause.

2. Venice Beach. This beach is like California’s backyard; all of its excesses and neurosis exposed for the delight and the eagerness to show off of all those who want to take part in the game. A huge skate park, the surfers in the early hours of the day, the bodybuilders… they are all part of the fauna you shouldn’t miss.

3. Santa Monica Pier. The place where the famous Route 66 ends is topped with a big wheel. Is there a better metaphor for the end of the road more linked to the North American imagery? Stands selling knick-knack, restaurants and buskers join the supernatural dusk over the beaches of Santa Monica.

4. Hollywood Cemetery. A huge cemetery behind one of the biggest studios in Los Angeles (Paramount Studios). Or maybe it’s the other way round… Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a big and romantic garden with infinite palm trees, ponds and graves, of course, like those of Johnny Ramone, Cecil B. DeMille, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino or Douglas Fairbanks. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Sites.

5. Mulholland Drive. To drive down this road at night with the pulsating lights of this gigantic city that seems endless is like following a roller coaster in the dark. The city seems then as the perfect inspiration for Ridley Scott and his Blade Runner or, of course, Lynch… mansions so big you only reach to see the gates among the dark hills and headlamps.

6. Marina del Rey. This port creates a huge space in which you hardly see people but where you can count millions of boats. You feel like the world has ended and you can choose one to keep for yourself. Seagulls and a very light sea spirit create a strange site you should not miss.

7. Zuma Beach. Neil Young fell in love with the coast of California and wrote a few albums close to this Malibu beach, which is endless and blazing but preserves some of that 50-year old freedom spirit. The light crushes down on you, but that is California.

8. Beverly Hills. Life is big in Beverly Hill mansions, but with that surreal feeling. Palm trees, buildings that seem to be empty, luxury cars with tinted windows… an orange dusk light that I’ve seen nowhere else. And at night, again, the neighbourhood goes straight into Lynch’s imagery.

9. Laguna Beach / Crystal Cove State Park. Located to the south of the city, this beach –which is also part of a Nature Reserve– is an example of how this land was or could have been not so long ago. A wild stronghold where you can experience freedom outdoors. The beach is long and almost deserted, so it is perfect to take pictures of landscapes, sea, fog…

10. Joshua Tree National Park / Mojave National Park. The city of Los Angeles is practically in the middle of a desert –or close by one–: the Mojave Desert. There is nothing like it. I am not a photographer specialized in nature, at all, but these landscapes where the famous Joshua trees break the horizon with their flaming shapes are absolutely wonderful. At dawn or dusk the light goes from a pale and delicate blue to an overwhelming sun and vice versa, surrounded by a silence that gives you goosebumps. 

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