It’s been a tried and tested way to document a place by photographing its people, which is why it remains a popular creative venture for photographers. The collaborative duo of Neil Kremer and Cory Johnson gives us a glimpse of Los Angeles by photographing random people making their way around the city for a set called Angelenos.
Evidently a reference to the demonym of its people, Angelenos is an ongoing personal project by the duo behind Kremer Johnson Photography. Here, they used one strobe for each portrait taken in Los Angeles, where they’re currently based. Instead of using busy streets or city scenes as the backdrop of their portraits (as we often see in street portraits and other similar projects), Kremer and Johnson set their subjects against calm and scenic backgrounds which works great to isolate and emphasize them.
These details also give a clue about how Kremer and Johnson have been shooting these portraits. While they randomly choose Angelenos to photograph, they don’t catch them unaware in stealthy style, nor do they stop them for a quick shot. They seem to take their time to light their subjects in studio style, and as I can imagine, also talk to them for a while to develop good rapport and get a feel of their mood. The result is a beautiful and intimate portrait of Los Angeles, the diversity of its people, and the character they bring to the iconic city.
Angelenos joins the roster of portrait projects I recommend following if you’re more into documentary work. Like Stijn Hoekstra with his cinematic Cuba portraits, Kremer and Johnson introduce us to their neighborhood through its residents, in all their quirks and everyday looks. Switching up the lighting with a strobe, however, gives us an impression that the duo also wanted to elevate their subjects much like how Richard Avedon gave his non-celebrity subjects the studio treatment.
Of course, if you’d rather begin photographing strangers with a quick street portrait challenge, that’s also a great exercise in getting acquainted with approaching strangers for a project. Later, when you feel like moving up a notch, feel free to revisit Angelenos for some inspiration.