I moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 1974. I intended to stay here for a year, maybe two. I’m still here. My father was career military, so growing up, I lived in Florida, New Mexico, New York, Maryland, Illinois, Georgia, Indiana, California and Kentucky—as well as Panama, France, and Okinawa.
I studied at the University of Maryland, got drafted, and spent thirteen months in Vietnam as a medic. Went back to college, then got a job as a photojournalist at the Washington Post. Determined to pursue my own work, I enrolled in the graduate program of the San Francisco Art Institute. After the SFAI, I traveled around Europe, through the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, living in my VW van, observing and photographing an amazing variety of landscapes and cultures. After a year and a half, I traded the van for six Turkish carpets in the bazaar in Istanbul, and came home.
So, I moved to L.A. and began teaching and photographing the landscape, one of the most diverse and fascinating I have ever encountered. My images are made with equipment that allows for great detail and minimizes distortion; your experience of looking at one of my photographs should be similar to looking through a window.
During the summer of 2010 I criss-crossed the United States on small roads through mostly rural towns, trying to stay off the beaten path, photographing the American landscape. What a strange and wonderful and luminous experience it was.
In 2013 I spent a year photographing a single boulevard in Los Angeles. Pico Boulevard begins in Santa Monica between two luxury beachfront hotels and ends at the Coca-Cola bottling plant at Central Avenue in downtown L.A. Traveling west on Pico Boulevard takes you through the Japanese and Iranian neighborhoods of West Los Angeles and to the wealthy neighborhood of Rancho Park then, passing Fox Studios Pico continues through the upscale business and entertainment center of Century City, the Jewish and Russian neighborhoods of South Robertson, the largely African American and Latino Mid-City district and Koreatown. It then passes through the mostly lower income area of recent Central American immigrants in the Pico Union district and finally, to the crowded commotion of the Garment District in downtown Los Angeles. In short, Pico Boulevard is a perfect microcosm of Los Angeles.
My most recent project has been to photograph the rapid changes occurring in downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). After WWII the simultaneous drive for suburbanization and development of the freeway system led to a slow decline of the city center. But today downtown L.A. is being redeveloped at a brisk pace. Old movie theaters are being restored, scores of new coffee shops and restaurants have opened, and formerly empty and derelict industrial buildings are being converted into luxury lofts and apartments. I’ve been photographing these swift changes in the built environment, particularly the often awkward and interesting juxtapositions of old and new.