DPP Home Profiles Patrick Eccelsine: Sunset Blvd.

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

Faces Of Sunset Boulevard
“I had a concept to do a social documentary on some of the poorest areas of L.A.,” he explains. “I knew that I wanted to interview people and I knew that I wanted quotes to go along with it, and that’s pretty much it. My way of looking at it was kind of like I was going to go get my photography Ph.D., and granted, I was already working at the time, but this work and this project was something that allowed me to go off and do more.”

Ecclesine began spending all of his free time, and his own money, on the Sunset Boulevard project. He’d be on a plane flying from coast to coast for Warner Bros., catching naps on sets, and funneling every dollar he made on these high-profile projects right back into the book. Ironically, the shots for the book also began to get him more projects from the studios. A long-planned profile of the California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, gave him a chance with an actual Warner Bros. campaign, and from there, it began to build even more, but all the time, in the background, Ecclesine was working on the book.

“The really interesting thing about the past four years is that it was a roller-coaster way of living. I’ve got a bunch of money that I would spend on better gear, more lights and assistants. Then it would go down, down, down, and then done, it’s gone. Phone’s not ringing. I’m screwed. What am I going to do, go get a job waiting tables? And then all of a sudden, right when I needed it, I would get three big calls in a row. Things conspired to help out.”
I guess the thing that keeps me going on is the chance to tell human stories in a visual and original way,” says Ecclesine about his attraction to portraiture. “In one picture create an experience or a story so that you can look at it, and ask yourself how?
Or who? Or why? What I like to create is a sense of curiosity about the world, and I think photography is a great thing because it allows me to stay fresh and engaged and curious. There’s always something more to learn, there’s always further we can go. Photography isn’t some static, cookie-cutter, day-in, day-out kind of a thing. It’s something that’s
really raw and always evolving.
The concept of the book refined itself as Ecclesine began shooting. He took a shot of his first subject, the aforementioned homeless man, with an inexpensive Vivitar 285 flash and a small Photoflex softbox. One of the remarkable qualities of the book is just how consistent Ecclesine’s style comes off through so many shots taken over such a long span of time, with a barrage of different equipment, and even at different times of the year.


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