SoCal Connected on KCET

I Am Los Angeles: Photography From the Eastside

Original Airdate February 27, 2013; Updated May 14, 2014

Gregory Bojorquez: One night in around ’96, ’97, I went to this party in East L.A. And it was a big party. There were all these girls dancing on the roof, and I was shooting pictures of all this stuff, and toward this end I shot this picture of a group of guys. Fifteen minutes after I took this photo, one kid in the picture...his name was Wicked. I think he was like 19 years old, he got shot outside the party. He got shot twice in the chest. Later on, I found out that the kid Wicked died. I wasn’t thinking of the photos. But when I saw the proofs back, I saw that I photographed that one kid Wicked and he was in the picture and he kid of had his head down. And the way his head looked, it looked like a skull. And I said, wow this is this guy’s last picture. And like, I started thinking.

This is something unique. Not a lot of people are hanging around with black and white film cameras, shooting this type of thing. After that, I started really buying a lot of films and hanging out all over the eastside, just looking for these slice of life moments. I’m Gregory Bojorquez, I’m a photographer working out of Los Angeles. Pretty much where I grew up is in the eastside of Los Angeles. And I’ve met a lot of people in all the places that I’ve lived, which has helped me with my Eastsider’s project. I’ve always wanted to show what I saw. The evolution. How the place evolved, how it’s changed. Some people are skeptical of me taking photos. They’d be joking around saying I was a..and all this stuff. All I wanted to do was take good photos. And now way after the fact, people are kind of appreciative of the fact. That makes me happy.

I never tried to show shock value. I mean, there’s people that do it and every picture is like a gun in your face. And everyone has full on tattoos. I mean, yeah that might be part of it. But I wanted to show the whole community. I wanted to show the landscape – young people, old people, gang people. You know, it’s all part of the community. The Eastside community is a place that I really love. I always want to keep on doing photos based out here. Maybe the pictures aren’t going to be the same from that party I shot when that kid got shot, but they could be different. It could show me evolving as a photographer or artist, or whatever you want to call it.

Since 2012, KCET has been featuring the work of journalist and filmmaker Joris Debeij through Departures, the station's interactive documentary project about the social history of Los Angeles. "I Am Los Angeles" is Debeij's portrait series that showcases the unique people and their ideas that make L.A. what it is. "SoCal Connected" will continue featuring his work on air.

Photographer Gregory Bojorquez has embarked on a journey to capture the sights, smells, and sounds of L.A.'s eastside -- from raging backyard parties and homeless people to self-portraits and tattoos.

His goal? To find and shoot "slice of life moments" that are often overlooked.

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