Night Shots: John Brian King's Photos of 1980s Los Angeles | KCET
Night Shots: John Brian King's Photos of 1980s Los Angeles
The following is an excerpt from the photography book "LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980-84" by John Brian King, being released November 2, and available for pre-order at spurleditions.com.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, near the airport, in a neighborhood called Westchester; it was blank and empty, a physical landscape of concrete and an aural landscape of jetliner noise. Aeronautics was omnipresent in my childhood: I lived on a street called Flight, I went to Orville Wright Junior High School, and my father worked as an engineer on the B-52 bomber and the Space Shuttle. My visits to the airport were limited to dropping off and picking up my parents' friends and relatives -- we lived close, after all, and they could park at our house for free.
I left Westchester at the age of seventeen, but I often returned to shoot photographs of people at the airport (the "LAX" section of this book). I rode a motorcycle (I had a couple of secret spots to park my bike) and mostly shot at night before going to late-night punk shows in Chinatown, Hollywood or the South Bay. I consciously went for an assaultive form of photography -- flash, wide-angle lens, hit and run, no permission asked.
I went to art school thirty miles north of Los Angeles. My favorite teachers were photographers Jo Ann Callis, Judy Fiskin and John Divola; conceptual artists John Baldessari, Michael Asher and Douglas Huebler; and poet-translator Richard Howard. It was a fortunate time in my life.
After finishing school I lived in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles and worked at Carnation Milk. I bought a beautiful piece of machinery, the brutalist Pentax 6x7 camera, and took photos of Los Angeles at night (the "L.A." section of this book). Avoiding people, I imagined myself as an archaeologist who had landed amid the bizarre debris of a dying culture. (I was also influenced by one of my favorite childhood movies, "The Omega Man," with its images of an empty apocalyptic Los Angeles.)
Then the negatives sat in a box for thirty years. I gave up photography and did other things: writing, design, filmmaking.
But recently I made a feature film called "Redlands," which was about the relationship between a young female model and an older male photographer, and even though the film was (among other things) a critical look at the genre of "glamour photography," I realized I missed taking pictures.
So I have picked up the camera again. I am now shooting digitally and in color, but my aesthetic, as evidenced by the photographs in this book, remains the same.
-- John Brian King
KCET caught up with Spanish actress Amaia Salamanca, who plays Alicia Alarcón, to talk about all things "Grand Hotel."
Learn how to prepare Greek Salad from "My Greek Table with Diane Kochilas."
California’s 88 state parks range from the desert badlands of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to the fog-shrouded forests of Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
Learn how to prepare Mole Verde with Pork and White Beans from "Pati's Mexican Table."
- 1 of 18
- next ›