LA PHOTO INDEPENDENT / by Nigel Swinn

SIZE MATTERS… IN L.A.

Imagine the thrill of being told that not only is your work accepted for inclusion in a contemporary photography show in LA, but one of your images will be the featured shot on billboards around the city. Thus, in late April I found myself in a dream and an Uber cab speeding towards West Hollywood with eyes peeled for one of 'my billboards'. As my driver, a medical student with a new Lexus, was explaining why Obama's Presidency was failing because "he was baptised a Muslim" I looked out at hoarding hell. It was clear there was little chance of the truth, let alone a photography exhibition competing with the Game of Thrones and Eyebrow Threading (with '100% Virgin Indian Hair’) billboards lining Santa Monica, La Ceniega and Sunset Boulevards. 

My breakthrough in America was nowhere in sight. But on Melrose Avenue, opposite the Paramount Pictures backlot where LA's edition of the Paris Photo Fair was being staged, in a more modest film studio called Raleigh Pictures, I found a haven of photographers and lovers of photography called LA Photo Independent - and I was indeed the featured photographer. My image of 'Tipene with Eyes Open' was on the catalogue cover, tickets and VIP passes.

There were Australians, Chinese, Rock & Roll photographers and their images of The Stones and the stoned, lots and lots of Americans, and one Kiwi. But that Kiwi's images were way bigger than anyone else’s, and this is a town that appreciates someone who clamors for attention.

Welcome to Hollywood.