Untold LA

Photographing the Astonishing Homes of LA's West Adams District

In 2012 photographer Jett Loe encountered the forgotten Los Angeles District of West Adams, the original wealthy area of town, the “Beverly Hills before Beverly Hills.”  Filled with an astonishing collection of Victorian and Craftsman homes in vibrant, diverse neighborhoods West Adams proved to be a revelation.  Following a successful Kickstarter campaign Jett spent two years producing this mammoth delight of a book that documents the variety of homes and people in the area.

Totaling a fully interactive 365 pages with 500 photos, 70 oral history audio clips from West Adams residents and two hours of behind-the-scenes video commentary, Untold LA is a massive treasure trove for lovers of Los Angeles, American history and architecture.

Instagramming Up a Storm

As I'm waiting, (in a semi-frustrated manner), for Untold LA to appear back on Apple's iTunes thought I'd post some of my Instagram shots of the neighborhood.

As I talked about in this video one of the ways Untold LA could have been done is as a purely social, mobile experiment where the project existed purely in the Instagram or Facebook realm instead of as a finite object that is downloaded locally in the hands of a user as is the case now with the iPad Book.

There is something to be said for that process. Camera phones have improved so dramatically over the years; the image processing power combined with the ingenuity of new software creates a space for drama, power and whimsy hereto unthinkable in such a small form.

With this in mind it's natural to ask how much is gained by using DSLR's or even the Untold LA camera, the Fuji X-Pro 1, if the final form is not a large gallery-type print but something that is observed on a small illuminated panel.

I think the answer, for me, has become apparent.

Untold LA is not a finite object, just the iPad book or possible print version, it's an on-going concern that exists in multiple ways. So while the iPad Book is its most dramatic, involving form, (there's just nothing like holding this thin slab of glass with hundreds of illuminated photos you can quickly scroll through, combined with hours of audio and video), the online/social component that allows mobile connected photography to bloom has become just as valuable.

Valuable in the sense that it shows the homes of Los Angeles' West Adams as beautiful, stunning inhabited objects worthy of study and love.

[All photographs in this post taken during the last couple of weeks in the North University Park neighborhood of Los Angeles' West Adams]