I have been photographing Venice Beach and its famous Boardwalk ever since I arrived in Los Angeles, four years ago. So, hundreds of shots later, it’s only fitting to publish a photoessay on Venice Beach, its people, its sites. The series is in black and white because, although Venice Beach is a very colorful place, its bohemian soul can also be captured without its many hues.
Venice has long been a spot for artists, surfers, skateboarders, street vendors, and homeless people. During the 80s and 90s it was quite dicey and, until recently, not a safe place to live, unless you didn’t mind gang violence, occasional street shootings, and drug dealers and addicts roaming around. Venice has cleaned up quite a bit lately. It has grown to include not only Google and its five-hundred employees, but more than 40 new tech startups, media companies, consulting firms and investors. These developments (which many call gentrification) have brought sophistication and quality living to Venice, but not enough to take away its bohemian vibe.
The Venice Boardwalk and its surroundings remain edgy and fun, with the usual circus-like environment. Street musicians, artists, vendors, tourists and locals, as well as an ever-growing homeless population, share the space democratically. As you enter the area, the smell of weed hits you like a bullet. It’s part of the experience… There you will encounter very eccentric people who have become fixtures of the place. Some of them are featured here. I’m not sure how much longer the Boardwalk will remain as it is. Real estate prices in the area are sky-high and rent is not as affordable as it used to be so struggling artists are moving out. I have nothing against gentrification –the place was a mess before — but I like the bohemian side of Venice and hope that never goes away.