Friday, April 10, 2009
Patrick Ecclesine: Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeleno Patrick Ecclesine’s work captures the hopes and aspirations of a city built on its dreams
Ecclesine was born in a hospital on Sunset Boulevard itself. After leaving for college to study film, theater and history, Ecclesine returned to the L.A. area and began his artistic career there, as so many do, as a waiter. He had been enthusiastic about photography when he was younger, and he began to take headshots and portraits of his coworkers and friends, which quickly built into a portfolio that was able to get him business as a photographer shooting actors. His ambition was to accomplish more than that, and he soon was able to finagle a job shooting a new extreme team sport called SlamBall.
“It’s basketball combined with a trampoline,” smiles Ecclesine. “It started in a warehouse in Van Nuys, with a competition-level trampoline built into an elevated floor. So they’d propel basketballs from 15, 20 feet away from the basket, and they wore full-contact football pads. You’d have defender-attacker situations where two players would go up in the air and have these spectacular midair train wrecks and get all mangled and fall, and they’d have people breaking their legs. I’d be like, ‘This is awesome!’”
Strangely, it was this surreal Los Angeles sport that led to bigger and better things. The following year, the sport got picked up for a national contract. Going national means big money, so Ecclesine called the network and told them that he was the man for the promotional work.
The book begins with a bold comment on a city that spends most of its time dreaming.“The network said they wanted Sports Illustrated-quality images. I spontaneously blurted, ‘I can do it!’” laughs Ecclesine. “The photo editor I was talking to didn’t do her homework or else I would have never got the job. I had four days to learn to use strobes, hang them in the rafters, trip them from the floor wirelessly and effectively light an arena. And at that time, I didn’t even know what an assistant was, so I did it all myself. It was a tremendous risk on my part, but somehow I pulled it off, and the images from that session were spectacular, and they were blasted around the globe.”
These shots led to a full billboard outside of Warner Bros. Studios, and the time spent on the project led to union status. Ecclesine walked into Warner Bros., pointed out the billboard, and soon enough was shooting production stills on The O.C. His work there led to more shooting with Cold Case, ER, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, all three CSI shows and others. Still, he wanted to be doing more. He’d look at the posters and billboards for these shows and tell himself that these were the kinds of shots that he wanted to be doing. So he gave himself a project that would make him a better photographer, Faces of Sunset Boulevard.
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