Los Angeles Flower District – May 24th, 2014
Ed, Stuart, and I were looking for an interesting spot a little different to shoot early on a Saturday morning. We had discussed our dilemma with a fellow street-shooting colleague at work, Nancy Lehrer (http://inancy.wordpress.com/) and she mentioned that she was meeting a friend or two in the flower district, and that we were welcome to join her. “Flower District?” Hmmmm. That sounded interesting. It is one of the myriad of “districts” in downtown LA, so we planned to meet her down in the district early in the morning. As always, it starts off with a ride on the Metro, originating from Universal City this time….
The Universal City station is similar to the other stations in the LA Metro system, but it has unique art (all of them are distinctly different in their art). I was playing with point of view as we waited patiently for the train and made this image of the fellow in front of me on the escalator reaching a point where it was easy to imagine him sticking straight out horizontally instead of straight up. I rather enjoyed the effect.
Since we weren’t at the end of the line, there were the trains headed the other direction to study, and I enjoyed a chance to look at the rate of change of the motion in the train cars when I was viewing them at an angle. The near side of the car is blurred, but the rear of the same car (traveling at the same speed as the front) is not as blurred. I remember dreading these sort of word problems in calculus class so many years ago….
Once safely ensconced on the subway, we enjoyed our peaceful ride downtown. I rarely shoot on the subway, but I decide to get a shot of Ed listening to tunes, checking out his camera. His “neighbors” looked interesting. I don’t always like the effect a 24mm lens shows on people, but this angle came out fairly nice.
Getting off the Metro Red Line at Pershing Square (5th and Hill) leaves you with a mild walk to 7th and Wall and you are in the heart of the Flower District. (If we ever meet, ask me to tell you the story of the crazy lady we met on the walk this morning. It is amusing…)
Once you arrive, there are blocks of low buildings (2 or 3 story) that cover the entire block, filled wall-to-wall with flower and florist supply shops. They are friendly toward photographers and ask only that you not photograph the prices specifically (it is ok to get them incidentally, they are just trying to stop “industrial espionage”). From their early opening time, florists from more than a hundred mile circle converge on these few blocks to grab their shops stock for the day. Most of them shop virtually every day.
There are street-type shots to be had all over the Central Flower Market, so Nancy and Ed were in their element, but I am not a wide-angle, up-close people shooter, and I actually spent hours shooting things, not people, and finally got to some off-the-main-drag shops where I could shoot something more like street portraits. Ibarionex Perello has mentioned to me several times to find something you genuinely enjoy about a person’s distinct appearance and compliment them on it. I said hello to this guy and admired his hair and asked if I could shoot. I shot other things in the shop until he returned to his work and stopped concentrating on me. I consider that more street portraiture than street photography, but both of us were happy in the end.
I took this shot as we started to head back out of the Flower District and saw the scene, envisioning the composition immediately, and played with it for a few seconds to wait for Ed to be at just the perfect place in the scene to be exactly the right amount of “out-of-focus-ness”.
As we left the area, I saw a perfect little vignette of street-life as the guy on the bike asked for directions from the fellow in the cart.
As we left, we decided that the Flower District was definitely worth a visit, and that this was a place we could bring our wives and allow them to look for inexpensive flowers while we shot. I would go again. Walking out, we saw the sign for Santee Alley and the Fashion District (not too far away), but we had other commitments this day.
The walk back t the metro station was quite a bit more interesting. It was still morning (late morning), and there were more people on the streets this time of day as we walked back to the Metro Station. One of the things I noticed were some steampunk shops, and some craftsman shops, such as this one that had the old sewing machine in the window.
Crossing through the Jewelry District, we passed by one of my favorite sights downtown. In this old section of Los Angeles, along Broadway, is this old theater (The State) that has been converted into a Spanish Language church, the Cathedral of Faith. The subtitle below looks like an idiomatic “Jesus Christ is the Man!”, but is actually a more traditional Spanish version of “Jesus Christ is The Lord” (or “Jesus Christ is Lord”). The linkage of Spanish cultures with Catholicism is a fascinating topic, and permeates much of the culture here in Southern California….
We inadvertently hoppbed onto the Purple line instead of the Red Line, and ended up changing from the Purple Line to the Red Line at the Westlake/MacArthur Park station. Each of the LA Metro stations was done in the work of a different artist, and all are distinctly worth stopping and taking a look at. This mural by Francisco Letherier is titled El Sol / La Luna.
In the end, we made it safely back to Universal City station to pick up our car and car-pooled back to Calabasas.
Short, interesting, inexpensive is the way we run these type of outings. $5.00 for the subway day-pass, a few dollars for a bacon-hot dog from a street vendor, and a few dollars worth of gas. I highly recommend this sort of outing for the weekend shooter…