Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bruce Hall: What Was He Thinking?

Bruce Hall is a photographer based on Portland, OR. The images below were taken in and around Los Angeles in the 80s and early 90s.

"I was walking back to my car after spending the day photographing around downtown Los Angeles. It was dusk and the light was fading quickly. As I approached the next crosswalk I saw this woman and intuitively responded. I shot one frame of the back of her head and as I was about to take another shot she turned and I released the shutter. I think my Leica was on 1/15th of a second at f 1.4 which means it's a little soft, but I think it still works. They're both kind of moody but this one seems to work better than the other. I love the light and the indistinct background shapes. People often comment that my work of this time (early 80s) looks like it's from an earlier era. I think that's why I was interested in this area to begin with. It seemed then, and even a little now, like a portal to another time."

"This is from around the same time and within a few blocks of the last shot. I used to trudge up and down Broadway from about 2nd street to 10th always in a state of mild anxiety and constantly searching for something, I'm not really sure what, even now. I had seen this guy who was a hawker for a shoe store or something and he seemed sort of menacing even though he was supposed to be a bunny. I shot a few frames but this one was the one that seemed to capture the way I felt about him."

"Again I'm just off Broadway. I had been trying to get shots of shoppers looking into store windows which somehow seemed to represent a sad, stripped down version of the American dream. There was a kind of desperate quality to many of the people there, mostly poor Hispanics over for the day from east LA. I have some images that represent what I think I was after more effectively but this one is unique, almost with a surreal quality, and atypical in that there's just the little girl rather than the usual throng of people."

"I had seen this guy quite a lot as he was a sort of fixture on Broadway around 7th. He always watched me intently as I'd pass by but we never spoke even though I'd shot a few frames of him from time to time on the sly. Finally I mustered the nerve to ask permission to shoot his picture. He was a ventriloquist and answered through his dummy that it would be alright as long as I gave him some money. As I was reaching into my pocket for change his dummy asked me where I was from. I answered Long Beach. That's where I was living at the time. Without missing a beat he said, 'are there many niggers there?' I was kind of put off by that and not sure what to say so I just laughed and took his picture instead."

"This was a few blocks from where I lived in Long Beach just after the 1992 civil unrest/riots in the wake of the Rodney King police beating verdict. It was a crazy few days with lots of burning and looting. The National Guard was posted up and down Pacific Avenue in the aftermath. This was in front of the post office where a local family was shooting Polaroids of the soldiers. I figured I'd do the same and just started shooting. This is the one that seemed to get what I think I was after."

"I think this may have been just before the riots, again near downtown LA. It was near dusk with the light fading fast, a time I seem to find some of the most interesting things to shoot. I saw these two and was immediately struck by the irony, the tenderness of a father with his son on his shoulders offset by the boy with his toy shot gun poised to gun down enemies, imagined or real."

1 comment:

Valery Titievsky said...

Very interesting post and very nice shot.