F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong about American lives having no second acts, of course — and if you're looking for proof, you could do much worse than to read the profiles in this year's People issue. Consider Aloe Blacc, who was laid off from his job as a strategy consultant and became a pop star. Or Marti Noxon, a successful TV writer who has now started … a flour mill. Or how about Lou Amdur, who owes his career as a wine guru to the fact that he walked away from the software industry? “The sirens called me,” he explains, “and I listened.”

For photographer Ryan Orange, it wasn't sirens who lured him off the straight and narrow — it wasL.A. Weekly. And while two months of hustling from Santa Monica to the San Gabriel Valley and back again to shoot 60 of the city's most fascinating people isn't as idyllic as sipping a fine cabernet, he rose to the challenge.

Raised by a social worker single mom in West L.A., Orange took his first detour almost eight years ago when his mother got cancer. Seeking more regular hours to assist with her care, he quit his job in the film industry. But after five years at Internet startups, and with his mother's cancer in remission, he realized he was miserable. Only photography made his heart sing. “I did it as a creative outlet, but when it started dominating my existence, I figured out that's what I love the most,” he recalls. Once again, he quit his job — this time to get his MFA in photography.

The rigors of handling so many photo shoots for this issue disrupted that plan: Orange had to drop out for a semester in order to get the job done. But shed no tears for this talented shooter. At 39, he may already be on his third act, but there's no mistaking the outcome. A star is born — and he's just one of many in this extraordinary issue.

See L.A. Weekly's 2014 People issue profiles

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