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.

Thoughts on Untold LA in Print

I'd always conceived of Untold LA as an iBook first and foremost. I love the way holding an iPad with a full-screen photo displayed is like looking at an illuminated window - it's like holding up a piece of stained glass with light streaming behind. Also the ability to have audio and video in the book is a huge plus, there's over 70 oral history audio clips and two hours of video in the iPad version.

That being said, everyone who's had a look at the iPad version has asked me "when's it coming out in print?" Not everyone has an iPad, it's a luxury item I think, and paper is dependable - books last - books are there - they're PRESENT. They don't need battery power and you can pack 'em in a box and move them around with you as you make your way around the world. People love books.

So I've been thinking about what to do regarding a print version of Untold. One option is to make the reward given to Kickstarter supporters who helped out with $125 donations available to everyone, (those are going out in the coming weeks - you can see an advance copy above). These books feature 50 of my favorite photos from the project with notes, and an introduction by WAHA's Elizabeth Fenner. So I could do that. But it's expensive - it'll cost people at least $40 to get the book, and while I think the product is fine as a 'thank you' for people who supported the project, I don't think that offers good value for money in terms of print quality.

So I'm going to look at alternative ways to get into print. I think the project would make a great coffee-table book - there's over 500 photos in the iPad version and there's easily 300 of those I'd like to include in a print version. Also it would be great to transcribe some of the oral histories and include a couple of essays about West Adams.

So that's the next step - find a publisher! I've never done anything like this before so your thoughts and advice are really needed. I'll post this entry on Facebook which is where most folks read and interact with the project and see what people have to say.