With his striking new black and white photography book, Los(t) Angeles, German photographer Michael Dressel attempts to highlight the many hues and harder side of life in L.A. Taken between 2014 and 2020, the collection aims for a humanistic approach to street photography that also highlights the irony, and yes the despair, that we often see beyond our front doors.
Los Angeles might be known for its sunny weather and bright city lights, but figuratively, it’s a pretty grey place, particularly in terms of its circumstantial blend of people, cultures, and stories. The mix of dark and light, glamour and grit, struggle and success swirls together on a daily basis, and while we’d like to think of it as a rainbow kind of energy, it muddles into the grey on most days, especially lately, with societal woes such as homelessness, the mental health crisis and political division on display every day. Dressel’s work explores the contrasts head-on.
“I always loved that Fellini could describe people in the most unflattering way without being condescending. It seemed he was laughing with us because deep down he knew he was as much a tragic joke as the rest of us. I wish to be like that,” the photog, who has lived in L.A. for 30 years now, tells L.A. Weekly of his work, as seen in this slideshow. “I do not have preconceived ideas about what I want to express. I am not religious or ‘spiritual.’ I could never even figure out what that is supposed to mean. But I do believe in magic. The magic that happens when I am pointing a camera at life and freeze a few hundredths of a second into an image. Afterwards that image turns into this thing that communicates what I think and feel about the world. This magic allows me to photograph myself into the world.”
Los(t) Angeles co-published by Hartmann Books and Gingko Press is available now at gingkopress.com/shop/lost-angeles/.