There are demons in the city of angels, I notice bewildered, as a rather daunting LAPD officer is securing evidence in an act normally only familiar to me from US crime dramas. He, however, is carrying out the task right before my very eyes, in our airbnb apartment! Great, I have not even been in the city for 48 hours and already got robbed. But let me tell you this story from the start while my photographer colleagues are still absorbed in talking to that charming policeman.
A couple of weeks ago, I took time by the forelock and sallied forth on a shooting trip to Los Angeles. Hollywood, Venice Beach, the California sun – nothing better for a photographer stuck in a particularly dismal Stuttgart February. With hoards of equipment and a pocket full of dreams I crossed the Atlantic and entered the City of Dreams. Our disposition was excellent, our airbnb apartment next to the iconic Capitol Records tower on Hollywood Boulevard. There we were – right in the middle of Hollywood, in this dream factory in whose cafés pretty girls still dream big, in a city almost unreal thanks to it’s pop cultural history. Were we really here? Yes, we were – surrounded by smart, nice, beautiful people. Really, that was nothing but a dream come true for a photographer looking for some spontaneous models.
It is, however, also a dream come true for thieves to stumble upon three photographer friends travelling with equipment worth more that we’d like to admit. One hour in a diner around the corner was enough for them to break into our apartment and mug us like there’s no tomorrow. What to do? We could of course have given up there and now. We could have taken the next flight home. This, however, would be the first failed project in my career. And anyway: Wasn’t this America, the land of endless possibilities?
Precisely! And it is the land of endless helpfulness, too: The nice bunch of male actors living next door went to get us some coffee first and invited us over – the result being a story that is only possible in Hollywood: One of those guys, it turns out, is from the drama series “Suits” and good friends with Meghan Markle, newly wed to Prince Harry! That flat here was even hers some years back, which is why he first thought we were paparazzi when he saw us arriving with all our stuff. No, we’re not. But cool story, bro!
From this point, we decide on just going with the flow. ‘Everything happens for a reason’ becomes this trip’s mantra. And a good mantra it is: We equip ourselves in a pawn shop and are finally ready to roll. One of us is shooting some bands in legendary Rock club Whisky a Go Go on Sunset Strip where The Doors or Alice Cooper began their stellar careers. And although I don’t know if the musicians present that night will make the cut, they’re still cool, handsome and totally chilled. But then again, everybody is around here. The dreams here are still bigger than elsewhere. The standards are, too, but that keeps nobody from dreaming. Boy, I can’t even tell you how much this is firing my imagination!
Still, it’s harder than I thought to get some models in front of my camera. I know how paradoxical this must sound in a city like this. But it is, trust me. Permissions, model releases, forms… a lot of bureaucratic hassle that just won’t fit into that picture of palm trees, beauties and perpetual coolness here in La La Land. Thus, I do the only right thing to do: I go to a bar in Venice Beach, have a couple Gin and Tonics and just wait and see what this city has in store for me. Just like everybody else is doing. As I said earlier: Go with the flow. And the flow is flowing: In no time I chat with a guy who wants to participate in an open mic night and would make a fab model for glasses. And right after that, I run into a beautiful girl from Bosnia-Herzegovina who is – Californian fate hitting hard – a model with some free time on her hands! I shoot her literally right before my flight back on Hollywood Boulevard and think my myself: This must be it. This must be this weird magic of Hollywood that has been drawing people to the stunning West Coast for more than a century.
When I take off from LAX International Airport, leaving this enormous city below me, I have that special feeling: It won’t be the last time for me! But however charming they might have been: Next time I’m here I don’t necessarily need the company of the LAPD boys. But then again: Who else did a selfie with an LA officer in full uniform?
Credit: Stefanie Trenz