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Photos: This Guy Walked All 15 Miles Of Pico And Met These People Along The Way
Los Angeles is a city of famous (some might say "great") streets. Some, like Sunset Boulevard, are glamorous and others, like Olympic Boulevard, are the bane of the daily commuter. None of them, though, capture the full experience of Los Angeles quite like Pico Boulevard. "Los Angeles is a microcosm of the world, and Pico is a microcosm of Los Angeles," photographer Trevor Brightman explains to LAist. Brightman recently embarked on his first major street photography project, titled #On_Pico, walking all of Pico Boulevard in one day and documenting the people he came across along the way. "I chose Pico because it traverses so many different neighborhoods and cultures."
Brightman was inspired by L.A. Times food critic Jonathan Gold, whom he first heard talk about his attempt at eating at every restaurant on Pico Boulevard on an episode of This American Life. "Pico, in a certain sense, was where I learned to eat," Gold wrote in L.A. Weekly. "I also saw my first punk-rock show on Pico, was shot at, fell in love, bowled a 164, witnessed a knife fight, took cello lessons, raised chickens, ate Oki Dogs and heard X, Ice Cube, Hole and Willie Dixon perform (though not together) on Pico." Gold's culinary journeys on the street were no doubt also the inspiration for a brief passage in Inherent Vice. "[Doc Sportello] could also eat his way down Pico night after night for a long while before repeating an ethnic category," wrote novelist Thomas Pynchon.
Starting at the intersection of Central Avenue and Pico Boulevard in the Fashion District—where the historic Coca-Cola building stands and the street begins—Brightman walked the 15 miles of its length, talking to people and taking photos along the way. It took him over eight hours to reach the point where the pavement touches the sand in Santa Monica beach.
"Most people were very receptive to the idea of being in a photo, but it wasn't like I just went up to people and asked for a portrait," he says. "It was really more of a series of conversations about the weather (it was really hot), the Dodgers, or where to find a good taco. After a few minutes I explained what I was doing and people either wanted to participate or didn't, but I didn't pressure anyone."
Brightman says he plans on doing more street-length projects in the future, and is leaning towards either Melrose Avenue or something in South L.A. The process, he found out, is much easier than he thought it would be. "I learned that it's a lot easier to engage in pleasant conversations with strangers than I thought. Almost everyone was really cool, and it was great to hear about different people's lives that I normally wouldn't have."
"Miguel and I chatted as he was filling up jugs of water from a tap along a brick wall. He had collected several gallons and said he was working around the corner. Despite his poor posture and age I could tell he was strong and a hard worker. He wished me good luck and I did the same." (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"Alvin said he's from Chicago and eventually wants get into the entertainment business. Right now he’s trying to get on track and into a program and agreed to let me take his portrait. 'This will be the before picture,' he said." (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"Gilbert is an LA native who says he hasn't ventured too far from home, except for a road trip up to Canada to show his kids the really big trees. He was super friendly, happy and high-energy. Here he is leaning against some of his work—he is contracted by the city to wrap utility boxes with art, helping to give the city some color and charm." (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
Danielle and Morgan were on their way to audition for NBC's 'The Voice.' 'Next time you see us,' they said, 'we'll be famous.' (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"Sophia was adorable and inquisitive in her Sunday best as she practiced rolling pupusa dough in her hands. She had lots of questions. 'What’s your favorite animal?', 'Can you take MY picture?' But my favorite was her last: 'What's your cell phone password?'" (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"I had a pupusa with loroco for lunch in the front of a small church, and the young guy working there gathered these girls for a photo. Parishioners gather after services each Sunday to cook, eat and celebrate together." (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"I don't know this guys name, or any thing about him, other than this fact: he is the man. Not pictured: his gold teeth!" (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"Nelson says L.A.'s heat doesn't compare to that of El Salvador, where he's from, but he is looking forward to winter. He was selling VCRs and DVD players near the corner of Orchard and Pico." (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"Javier was carrying a framed painting, translated from Spanish, the prayer reads, 'Guardian angel, my dear, do not forsake me, night or day.'" (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"Sandy stands up and Jessy crouches low in front of his 'Minionmobile.' They were hanging around with some friends and before the conversation was over they were both following Brightman Photography on Instagram and looking forward to seeing the pic." (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"Kay smiling in her Mystical Apothecary and Creative Studio, a really interesting spot where she sells crystals, essential oils, alternative healing and more. She is an advocate for more people visiting and shopping along Pico, and I couldn't agree more." (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"Joyce, and 13-year-old Snowball, at her international gift shop. Along with selling amazing products from every continent she also does custom high-end gift wrapping. She was very kind and insisted I drink some water before leaving." (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"Dale and his buddy (pictured above) were trying to fix a battery-operated stereo when we chatted near South Shenandoah Street. Under the shade of some trees, he sipped beer and watched the people and cars pass up and down central Pico on a hot Sunday afternoon." (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"Fresh off a 15-hour flight for Australia, we walked several blocks together towards the ocean. He was in town for business, but also to see family and friends. 'I went to Hollywood once,' he said. 'Once was enough.'" (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)
"Katherine atop her pedicab under the palm trees and setting sun. She gives rides along the beach between Venice and Santa Monica and seems to love her job. With a view like that, who wouldn't?" (Photo courtesy of Trevor Brightman)