February 27, 2013
Hooray for Hollywood – Kids in LA!

It’s winter here in Cleveland, and I am having the best time reliving my January journey down the coast of California through this blog.  I mean, the California sunshine — it just won’t quit!

Los Angeles is a fascinating place.  Everywhere you go, you feel the energy of show business.  Even though movies themselves are now often shot elsewhere, the romance of the term “movie star,” still springs to mind in the hopes of sighting our favorite Hollywood celebrities.

I studied film and video at the University of Michigan, and chose to move to New York after my studies, although many of my peers went to LA.  It’s always fun to hear their stories of the industry — which traditions die hard, and what the world of reality television has changed about the field since graduation in 2000.  I freaking love “the film kids,” a term I coined to first describe my college classmates, and now many of my LA friends, old and new.  And, although I called myself a New Yorker for many years, I dig the LA vibe, its people, the relentless sunlight, and the feeling of “Hollywood” all around.

I often think about the founders of the film industry, and what they must have seen in the light in Los Angeles — it’s just so magical.  The vibrancy seems to match the feeling I try to draw out in my work with children.  Reflected sunlight off of any white surface creates this utterly dreamy movie-like ambiance.  Makes you wonder how many of those gorgeous romantic comedy close-ups were pickups shot on the lot, with sunlight bouncing off a white building.

It’s interesting to be in that context, remembering the days I spent there when I was the Production Coordinator on the People’s Choice Awards, and yet doing what I do now.  Eight years seems like ages ago — so much has happened, and I have grown so much as an artist and professional.  I reminisce about those days — about the challenges and the joys of working in TV production.  And, then, I suddenly feel utterly free!  Instead of being there with an intense agenda, I have scheduled shoots at my own pace.  Instead of needing to conform to certain specifications, I have booked with clients who want and expect me to be at my absolute best level of self-expression.

To think, I have built this new life for myself in eight short years is kind of unbelievable to me.  Every time I’m in LA, I think about this.  I remember staying at the Beverly Hilton, and having meetings at CAA.  I appreciate the poshness of all of that.  And, yet, while I was doing that, I didn’t have the freedom to be me that I have now. 

(Incidentally, I did visit the CAA building again this trip. I had to go through the lobby to get to the Annenberg Space for Photography — a wonderful museum that truly relishes photography as an artform.)

Kids are my favorite thing to photograph because they remind me that as humans, we want to feel free to the core of our beings.  A child laughs, cries, sings as he feels inspired to.  He has not yet been conditioned to control these things.  Now, I don’t recommend you go around wailing in public (though singing might be okay, if you’ve got talent), but doesn’t it feel good to feel free?  To express yourself?  To know you’re loved, and not to worry that this particular moment in your life and how you respond to it is going to define you for all of time? 

Yeah, I could get into the idea of trying to be more childlike — of being more fully in the moment.  I think this is what our favorite movie stars learn to master.  They pour themselves into a scene.  They couldn’t possibly be worried about winning an Oscar without us reading the falsity on their face, so they have to sincerely give themselves over to being expressive in the moment.  So, let me ask you, why do you suppose that is so fun to watch?

I think it’s because we long for it.  It’s not the amazing house on Mulholland Drive or the super cool car we covet, although those things are lovely.  We long, like children and movie stars, to pour ourselves out there completely, trusting that we are loved in spite of ourselves.


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