My Trip to Hollywood Was a Failure

My Trip to Hollywood Was a Failure. I got up, drove the half-hour to the train station, took an hour to get into Los Angeles, then walked to the subway station, and spent another half-hour getting to Hollywood. There were some street closures which funnelled extra traffic onto Hollywood Boulevard and there were a gazillion tourists. The sky was overcast. It was chilly and felt like it was going to rain. Of course, I knew all of this before I got out of bed, but I went, anyway. Who can I blame? Also, I didn’t really get any stellar photos to share with you — well, I’ll share some anyway, but first a story that makes me question how true of an artist I really am. Yes, photography is an art.

OK, let’s start at the beginning, more or less. From Union Station, I made my way down to the subway platform. At 10:30 on a Friday morning, there weren’t many passengers waiting.

Red Line Platform

Red Line Platform

I get on and take a seat the first row from the door. On gets a woman with a five-month old, in a stroller. His name is Kal-El — Superman’s birth name. He is wearing blue Superman shoes.

Kal-El

Kal-El

Karen Ivette Zaldana

Karen Ivette Zaldana

Mom sees the camera around my neck and begins to speak to me. I move to her side of the aisle, to hear her, better. She talks about art — her art — and it’s impact on her life. She tells me that she was homeless but used to go to a center, on Skid Row, where a woman taught a photography course. It wasn’t the shutter speed/aperture type of class. They used single-use, point-and-shoot cameras, with no adjustments. It had a major effect on her life. She is no longer homeless — she’s had a home since August! Karen was a bright and thoughtful woman. She tore a piece of paper of an old receipt and wrote her name with a felt-tipped pen, saying “…google me. I’m in a documentary about the photography class — and I sold some pictures”.

A couple subway stops go by and she recognizes a boarding passenger. He is Hayk and is the Arts Coordinator at the center where Karen learned photography. Check it out: http://lampcommunity.org/arts-program.php

Hayk Makhmuryan

Hayk Makhmuryan

After learning Karen’s story and Hayk’s contribution to Skid Row artists, I’m feeling a little ashamed at my ‘bad luck’ for the day. Karen got off the subway and Hayk and I talked for a few more stops. I was the last one off. Let’s move on down the street. If you follow this blog, for any length of time, you will know two things:

#1. I go to coffee shops. I like coffee, and they generally have clean restrooms.

#2. I like to shoot through windows — from either inside or outside.

I’m shy, so I can hide behind my camera and shoot through a window with little risk that the subject is going to holler at me. 🙂 Well, ‘shy’ is a relative term. Before these two window pictures, I just spent 30 minutes talking to two people I’d never heard of, before. — and it will happen, again, before the day is over.

Shooting Through a Starbucks Window #1

Shooting Through a Starbucks Window #1

Shooting Through a Starbucks Window #2

Shooting Through a Starbucks Window #2

Interestingly, the lady in the white dress was sitting in the window when I went in, and two hours later, she was still there, went I passed by, again. Sure, I was wondering why she would spend all afternoon sitting in a Starbucks. She was wondering what that fool (me) was doing walking up and down Hollywood Boulevard all afternoon!!

Pantages Theater on a Dreary Afternoon

Pantages Theater on a Dreary Afternoon

Do the guys in the foreground add or detract from the image? I intended to use them to frame the image and give a sense of distance. I’m not so sure it worked. Hey, it’s street photography — You don’t always get to choose your composition. I might go back on another day. The Pantages will still be there. The guys probably won’t.

Hollywood & Vine

Hollywood & Vine

The building, at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, is interesting to me, if not you. In the mid 1990s, I did a radio show, on Sunday evenings, from there. More accurately, I produced it, but many times I had to go on air when a guest might be late, or not show up. Why is that interesting? At the time, I was the Vice-President of Marketing for an adult education company with several schools. One of our courses was English as a Second language. It is hard, and a little scary, to try and learn a new language as an adult. I remember when I had the ideas of a 30-year old, but the Spanish vocabulary of a three-year old. It can be frustrating. The radio station broadcast in Spanish. My main pitch was that we (the school) understood some of the things that were holding them back — stopping them from trying to learn English. I used to say, in Spanish, that if a short, fat, bald gringo could go on the radio and try to speak Spanish, they had nothing to fear in our safe, nurturing classrooms.

Filming Notice

Filming Notice

These Filming Notices are all over Los Angeles. This one is for NCIS:LA.

Blaine (or Blake)

Blaine (or Blake)

I walked past this guy, only to hear myself stop and say. “Dude, you look like Axel Rose.” Yes, I say ‘dude’, on occasion. He responded, “I sing, a little.” I stopped and we talked for a while. He’s from Georgia and has been following his Hollywood dream for about six months. He never stopped smiling. I gave him a dollar. I rarely give anyone any money, on the streets. I’ll tip street performers if they are entertaining, but not to anyone who asks. Blaine (Blake — sorry, I can’t remember), didn’t ask, but he seemed genuine — and not high.

Walk of Fame

Walk of Fame

Nothing special, here, but you can’t go to Hollywood without taking a picture of the Walk of Fame. 🙂

Final one — I love reflections in bus windows.

Reflections in Bus Windows

Reflections in Bus Windows

Interested in the EXIF data? Olympus OMD-EM5, 17mm, f2.8. I normally shoot about f8.0 on the streets, but today, I shoot wide open. ISO 1600 inside and 800 outside. Aperture Priority, so the shutter speed varied. In post, I extended the range, at little, converted to black & white, or a tiny bit of sepia. I just upgraded to LR6.

I hope there aren’t too many typos — I shouldn’t make excuses, but it is midnight and I suck at proofreading, even at noon!!

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