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Arts and Entertainment

Photos: Hundreds Gather At Photography Flash Mob At Exposition Park

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Over the weekend, hundreds of photography enthusiasts gathered outside of Exposition Park for an impromptu night of shooting. There was plenty to photograph in the streets: colorful smoke bombs (even smoke cannons!), fire breathers and folks in Purge-esque masks. There was even a mobile DJ performing in a shopping cart.

Attendees were emailed the secret location of the Flask Mob gathering just a day before the event on Saturday. Flask Mob co-founders and husband-and-wife duo, Evan and Sabina Thompson, do this on the fly and ask their followers not to post the location to social media. This is the fourth event the couple has done in L.A., and they've held countless others in San Francisco since they started Flask Mob in 2013.

Flask Mob is equal parts a networking event for photographers as well as a chance for enthusiasts to take pictures of interesting subjects. "Flask Mob was created as a way to get like minded creatives out and meeting each other rather than liking each other's photos on Instagram," the couple wrote. "Real connection... There aren't really networking events for our age group...and if there are, they are really boring."

Dilan Garcia, a 19-year-old photographer and videographer, told LAist that his friend received the invite and brought him along with him. They first met up at a warehouse around the corner of the iconic Felix Chevrolet dealership in the afternoon before venturing down Figueroa Street at around 7:30 p.m., where they saw fireworks, sparklers, and smoke bombs—perfect for "magnificent" long exposure shots—and a girl in just her underwear and a silky bathrobe, despite it being 50 degrees outside. People showed up in costumes and in masks. A 9-year-old girl was dressed in a costume from the BioShock video game. There was music and DJs spinning, and this guy with his smoke cannon:

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The Thompsons say that they originally planned for the event to be held in the warehouse as part of a toy drive to collect gifts for the L.A. Fire Department's program, and also in part as an effort to keep it calm indoors instead of having it outdoors because they had a "rough run in last time." Though, that was short-lived. They told the LAPD about the toy drive and authorities shut it down within 30 minutes, telling them that they "weren't zoned for public assembly in a warehouse." They tried to explain to police that it was for a charity, but that fell on deaf ears.

"Upset at LAPD's cooperation we went inside, got on the mic, shut it down, and told them to GIVE EM HELL," they wrote. "They followed us for quite a bit on our way to drop the toys off to the fire department. Once they realized we were actually dropping off toys they all left, including the helicopter, which was complete overkill."

Garcia said besides the helicopter and some patrol cars following them, officers mostly just told people to get out of the middle of the streets and not light fireworks there. The Thompsons say that they don't normally coordinate with the LAPD on these events, but they generally do with the S.F. Police Department when they hold events up there, and they have a peaceful time and do as they please within reason. "We police our own events and do very well at it. If someone is out of line or does anything they know they shouldn't do, they are out."

LAist reached out to the LAPD, but have not received a comment about the event at the time this story published. When we hear back, we'll update the story.

There wasn't a final count of the number of people who showed up, but the estimates range from 250 to 400. Garcia said he got a chance to snap some photos and meet other photographers.

"We just want people to meet. There is nothing worse than being an artist and not knowing anyone in your community," the Thompsons wrote.

The day after the event, they received a message from a parent whose daughter attended the event:

My beautiful daughter went to a flaskmob for the first time last night and she felt so alive and surrounded by mutually creative souls. As a mom, i was afraid to hear she was going, but it all ended up going well :)! Please keep the mission you have a peaceful one, and continue to represent young artists in a kind and respectful manner and you'll be onto something really awesome. And hey, every once and a while have a cause. Like maybe every person bring a toy for tots.

Flask Mob typically holds these events every month in S.F., and every four months or so in L.A. To get updates about upcoming events, visit their website here and sign up for their newsletter.