FOREVER LOS ANGELES
FOREVER LOS ANGELES
Book/Exhibition/Workshop Project// A modest European view on the wonderful people and places of California/Los Angeles
Book/Exhibition/Workshop Project// A modest European view on the wonderful people and places of California/Los Angeles Read more
I can honestly say that Los Angeles changed my life. It changed the way I look, observe, respect, admire, condemn. This mega-city divided into little areas, each with a different speed and style, a different attitude, a different body language — all united in this amazing, mind-blowing cityscape of imperfection. I love this imperfection. Architecture that is based on necessity, zillions of signs and shapes, old cars, logos, huge boulevards crossed by tiny back streets, the fake and true united in the hope and enthusiasm to achieve something. Endless stories of lost souls and superstars. Los Angeles is wonderful. It is a brilliant city; a city where art has freedom because of the lack of tradition. LA is huge, it is fast — but the closer you look, the slower it gets, and the more you give yourself to the speed and the sound of each corner and neighborhood.
I grew up in Germany, or better said, I grew up in Europe. I know about cultural diversity, languages, different colors and flavors. At least I thought I knew about these things. Los Angeles is more diverse than Europe will ever have the chance to be. Given time and history it sounds stupid, but in Europe, agglomeration means suffocation. It is diverse without actual borders, but it is not a melting pot. Los Angeles is liberation.
FOREVER LOS ANGELES will be a book of photography, paying homage to the people and places of Los Angeles. It will be a modest European interpretation of a vibrant and wonderful city. The project will start in January of next year, should the goal be reached.
Samples of past photographs taken in LA and abroad, not to be included in the book:
The formal reduced photography (pure black and white, using just a Leica camera with one lens) allows me to capture highly emotional moments without glorifying them. It is an honest look. There is no screenplay. Moments happen without being forced.
The execution of the book will come from freedom of any constraints, only time. It is driving and walking the city; to talk, look, sit, and let intuition take over. I need to trust the city, and I am sure the city will give back with many, many stories.
In addition to the execution of the book, I will be updating a weekly web diary to show all that I am learning, my failures and successes, and the experiences and meetings that shape this project. It is not only about a final book, but more about this journey of encounters and new discoveries over nearly 10 weeks.
Be part of this and share a European's view of an amazing country with outstanding people — which for me is visualized in Los Angeles.
Describe your first encouter with this city that changed your life.
My first visit to LA was weird. I was lost. The city was intimidating. I left San Francisco in the morning, and my plan was to reach LA by the late afternoon. Hey, I'm German, I can drive, so I made it before 5pm, drove to the beach somewhere in Venice, got a cup of coffee and enjoyed the sunset. I drove down to see my dream girl, a German chick, who worked for Red Bull North America. That chick is now my wife. I had to leave Chrissy two days later. Not only did I miss her, I also missed LA.
And have you been back since?
Oh, in the meantime it’s been for sure 20, 25 times. It’s getting better and better...
So you automatically have a good gut feeling about the city if you associate it with Chrissy. What was it like to be there in those first days?
Yes, absolutely. It was an amazing start, but still, at the beginning I didn't get the city. Too much of everything. I felt that San Francisco was so European (whatever that might be) and LA so American. But it changed very quickly. Chrissy had to work, and I had a couple of days of dropping her at the office and then just driving around the city for seven or eight hours, picking her up again, and going to that tiny, super sweet Thai place on Lincoln Boulevard for dinner. Amazing days. To drive around with time and no specific destination is absolutly amazing.
And you had no intention then of making your discoveries into an object, or sharing them with the world? At that time at least.
I had no intention of doing anything. I just loved to drive and take pictures. I didn't even look at the pictures for a long time. It was more the activity that was amazing. I had a routine: a coffee, a bookstore, some pictures, some reading. I felt like a poet or a painter who would scribble around. The idea of the project came later.
After many trips back.
Yeah. I looked a lot at LA art and photography, and somehow I still had the impression that I had this different way of looking at the people and places in the city from any other LA-based photographer. I would describe it as the way a child would take in something new; with huge, open eyes and very sensitive to everything; but with 15 years of photographic experience – a perfect combination. And amazingly enough, this look and enthusiasm has remained with me for all these years. So after all these trips and tests, I would like to dedicate a certain amount of time (10 weeks) to refresh and generate a unique view of the city and the people living in LA. I would like to remind people to see things the way I do. Pay attention to the little details; the not-so-important things that actually make all the difference. The book will be a modest view of the city, captured with my second love: the Leica Monochrom.
Photography is not about a perfect picture, in the formal sense. Photography should be an expression of what you see, combined with your personal feeling and will to transport. Photography snaps out something of it's own time and transfers into a different kind of duration. Wim Wenders once said that taking pictures is an act in two directions: forwards and backwards. It is the obvious subject in front of the lens, but also the pure artistic interpretation of the one taking the picture. There is an attitude involved. The camera is an eye capable of looking forward and backward at the same time. That is in it's way very unique.
The day we would spend together we would see similar things, maybe even capture the same things, and still, they will be incredibly different.
We would not just drive around and shoot — photography can be also a way of talking to each other, interpreting. So one focus would be on this part of the photography. The other angle is simply technique, a feel for this wonderful Leica camera. A silent machine, small and super precise. All manual, which forces the photographer to act slow and with care.
- 41 years old, married, almost two kids: Finn, 3 & Milla, coming soon!
- Former creative director of Red Bull
- Studied fashion & graphic design
- Leica photographer since 1999
- Using leica monochrom / two bodies / two lenses (35mm, 1:1,4 / 50mm, 1:1,4)
- Started his own design studio in 2001 in Hamburg
- Favorite film: Sofia Coppola's Somewhere- Favorite band: Radiohead
- Favorite food: Thai
About the book:
- Limited to 1000 copies
- Around 200 pages
- 28 cm x 23 cm
- Soft cover bound on 100% recycled paper
- Pure black and white offset printing
- A1 size
- One big photo with FOREVER LOS ANGELES type
- Round sticker
- Silk screened
- Type: FOREVER LOS ANGELES / spring 2014 / sven hoffmann / american flag
Your contributions help with the following costs, which may vary. Any housing, travel, car and gas costs will not be taken out of this budget.
- Printing costs of 1,000 books / 200 pages / proofs / lithography: $27,000
- Print cost of the poster: $3,000 - $5000
- Sticker: $1,000
- Production costs: $10,000
- Shipping around the world: $5,000
- Assistant manager for the project: $3,500
- Exhibition to be held June/July 2014 (TBD): $10,000
Should the goal be exceeded, I would like to create an exhibition around the book, displaying both large scale prints from the book as well as the collaborative work from the workshops. It is also a dream of mine to start a local free magazine in the style of the book telling little stories about great people and places of Los Angeles.
Risks and challenges
The issues that will arise with this project will be the same with any printed book project. Sticking to the timeline will be the biggest driving force as far as production, so any printing issues that come up may set us back. The design is largely in place but there are always potential epiphanies that could lead to changes...Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)