What is a Neighborhood?

What is a neighborhood? This is a question that I’ve been trying to answer for almost as long as I can remember. It’s tough because it can mean different things to different people and in some ways, they are all correct.

What is a Neighborhood?
Vine St., Hollywood 2015.

Archival Recordings 15


What is a neighborhood? This is a question that I’ve been trying to answer for almost as long as I can remember. It’s tough because it can mean different things to different people and in some ways, they are all correct. In Los Angeles, the term takes on additional significance because of the way we sort ourselves geographically. Out here, a neighborhood can mean anything from your specific block to the gang that started on it. Its location can be on the Westside, the Eastside, South LA, or somewhere in between. In a city where the unofficial boundaries supersede anything you may find on a map, a neighborhood’s borders can be completely different depending on the age of the person you are talking to. The specific combination of adjectives a person uses to describe it can signify how long they have lived there, provide insight into their worldview and even allow you to form an immediate bond with a complete stranger who came up in the same area you did. 

Alley between Gower and El Centro. Hollywood, 2015.

The concept of a neighborhood is also what helped me cultivate my photography. Once I learned the basics of how to take a picture, it was the subject that I immediately pointed my camera at. It started with a desire to explore my old stomping grounds in Hollywood. This was the part of the city I lived in at a very young age and continued to attend school in even after I moved out of the vicinity. Because of that, I maintained an enduring connection to the area bordered by Vine Street on the west, Sunset Boulevard on the north, Melrose Avenue on the south and Western Avenue on the east. At the time I lived there it was a working class neighborhood that bore little resemblance to the “Hollywood” most people think of. One of my earliest photo essays was titled “Sacred Space” and was the first of many that focused on the ways this part of the city was changing. 

It is important for locals to document major cities like Los Angeles. As a cultural and economic center, the city draws in countless people looking to make it big in some way or another. This dynamic makes it easy for the world to forget that underneath all the hype and gloss, there lies a real place that is deeper and more complex than anything glimpsed from the surface.

The Small Outside

Malibu Creek State Park, 2023.

One of the unfortunate effects that algorithm based social media has had on photography is the flattening of styles to increase reach. I’ve hit this wall personally many times, social media platforms find it very difficult to manage different types of content on the same account so they prioritize consistency. While this may be efficient in the world of technology, I find it to be counterproductive when applied to creative mediums. Many people specialize but experimentation should be encouraged as well. The way things work at the moment, that usually means starting a new profile if you want to try something different.

Over the course of the past couple of years, I’ve been photographing a lot of natural landscapes in my area. I’m a regular at Malibu Creek State Park, Wilacre Park, Franklin Canyon, and a few other spots in the Santa Monica mountains. Every now and then I’ll be sharing some of the work from those adventures as a part of this newsletter. I really meant it when I stated it in my previous newsletter... I am A Landscape Photographer.

Until next time...!