Los Angeles

I’m writing from Los Angeles today. My friend Ryan picked me up from LAX a few hours ago and as we drove back to her neighborhood in West Hollywood I was finding it a little difficult trying to get my bearings. I realized of all my homes away from home, places I feel really comfortable and know my way around in, LA has slipped below both New York and San Francisco. There was a time when I knew LA like the back of my hand. New York is getting to be like that for me now, but since it’s been so many years since I spent any serious time in LA, I find myself having to relearn everything.

I used to zip back and forth between Westwood, Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan Beach, Hollywood and Burbank… well I guess in LA it’s sometimes difficult to do any serious zipping… but it’s been quite some time since I’ve done that. A few minutes on Google Maps though and I think I’m getting my footing back again.

It’s been since May that I’ve gotten to see Ryan. Too long. We’ve been friends for seven years I think was the number she came up with this week and even though I’ve spent lots of time on the phone with her in LA traffic while I walked the streets of Chicago, it’s not the same as in person contact. So I’m looking forward to spending time with her for a few days and getting to know her new life here.

And of course it goes without saying that December in LA is much nicer than December in Chicago. Walking around without a jacket on. That’s all I’m going to say.

Some new things going on…

The opening first few weeks of the online Billy Sheahan Photography Store have been very busy. You can buy prints, get on the free email postcard mailing list, buy twelve months of physical postcards and other things as well. I’m very pleased with how that’s been going. I think a lot of people are doing some of their Christmas shopping there. It’s really been great.

In another exciting piece of news, I interviewed a very promising new model yesterday in Chicago. We have very similar photographic influences, so it should make for a really good collaboration. We both are huge fans of old Hollywood photography. We met for a drink and I brought as many samples of my work as I could carry on my back to show her what I was working on these days, and in the midst of a “bad Christmas sweater” party that arrived at the same time as our meeting at this particular bar, we had a great talk about the work and we’re both looking forward to what we might come up with. We have tentative plans to have our first shoot next weekend when I get back.

And in a good example of “never say never,” I’ve started to do some commercial portrait photography. There was a brief period that I used to shoot kids years ago. I would constantly get asked about photographing children, but I think I had so many other photography projects going that I never agreed to do that kind of work with any kind of regularity.

I’d gotten a lot of people asking me about it again this year, and so I decided to give it a try and see how it felt. Photographing children isn’t completely unlike shooting models. You still have to create an atmosphere that makes the subject comfortable enough to give your something interesting to photograph. I do spend more time on my stomach to get the angle right though.

One of the reasons I decided to try it again was that it’s much easier to deliver the images to the client in a very timely manner. Instantly, for that matter. Back in the day when I was shooting on transparency, there was time getting the film back from the lab and then the clients would have to narrow down their picks over a few days and then give me a few images to take to the lab and have prints made for them. Now, at the end of the session, I burn them a CD of everything and they walk with it.

That works out well for me because it’s not as time consuming as it was years ago. And everyone is happy much sooner.

No photographs from LA yet, but there will be plenty of time for that.

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