Photography

Zephy Photography: A Celebration of LA Culture with a Classic, Colorful Touch

By Elise Gray

Stephanie Monroe, otherwise known as Zeph by her friends, is a SoCal native who has always been a lover of photography. When you live in a city as cool as Los Angeles, it's easy to find your fair share of abandoned buildings, clear beaches, and makeshift sets. Stephanie creates work that is immersive.

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The overall aesthetic of each image she creates is as unique as it is vivacious. With poised portfolio of images portraying gleaming diner signs and her Sphynx cats—Michael and Clovis—one can see things the way she does. Whether she's capturing all the colorful tones of the Amalfi Coast or the Santa Monica Pier, she always manages to portray her photos with a blend of bright hues and a classic touch.

Stephanie finds inspiration all around her, which is evident as there's no shortage of vintage pieces in her home. Her cats are wandering on the table behind her as she talks, "I can build an entire idea for a shoot around a single object—that's what I love about photography; the possibilities are endless."

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What influences your work?

"So many things—it's hard to put it into words. Colorful things and time periods are big ones for me. I will always have mad love for vintage eras; my automatic instinct is to want to recreate that old-timey feel starting anywhere from the early 1900's to present. It's just so beautifully aesthetic in my opinion."

She sits in the middle of her Culver City apartment with her Sphynx Clovis in hand as she explains the process of begging her parents for disposable cameras. "...that was my thing as a kid. It wasn't until later in my life when I discovered the power of editing that I really started showing a true passion for photography and editing; I equally love doing both."

Stephanie shoots a lot of sceneries and objects on her iPhone, but when she wants a real crisp, professional photo, she busts out either the Sony a5100 or the Nikon d3100. 

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"I'm simplistic with the cameras I use. It also depends on the subject your photographing everyone has their own style of shooting," says Monroe. When you photograph things that make you feel good, you can't always prepare for the moment—that's how art is born.

When asked what editing tools she uses, she mentions that she bounces back and forth between Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and occasionally VSCO.

You’ve mentioned that you do not focus on subjects specifically, but more on how the image makes you feel. It is an unusual concept; what did you mean by that?

Well, it's clear that there is a strong connection between human memory and the photographs we take. I think so much of our lives are visual. Why wouldn't you want to capture that feeling forever? The similarities between our eyes and a camera aren't that different, and when you look at something it sparks an emotion, a memory, that is the effect I want to give in my photos.

What is something you want people to take away from your images?

I want them to feel something even if it's for 1 second. To also look at life with an open mind and to always have fun. I put my heart and soul into every photo I take—even if it's a picture of a burrito. 

You can find Stephanie Monroe's photography by following her @zephy_photography on Instagram. Feel free to DM her or check out her portfolio, zephyphotography.com, for any shoot requests. You can also follow her personal account, @zephaniemonroe for daily shenanigans. Be sure to follow her for any updates about collaborations or future gallery shows.

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What Does Los Angeles Really Look Like?

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By Elise Gray 

Ah, Los Angeles, California, where do we begin? We're all used to seeing The City of Angels in the movies. For many people, this is the Promised Land. Most Americans have a general idea of what it looks like, as it is the breeding grounds for the rich and famous. A lot of outside assumptions about LA are accurate. Yes, perfect people are running around with designer footwear, and dogs are allowed everywhere. Trimmed palm trees and luxury vehicles do line the streets with well-groomed lawns in a uniformed fashion. The first time you step foot in LA, it's sort of like a surreal #instastory coming alive. How can one place be so beautiful? Contrary to popular belief, Los Angeles also offers more than conventional beauty. Rodeo Drive isn't the only place that native Los Angelenos see every day. In fact, unless you're a well-paid individual, you might not ever step foot on Rodeo Drive – that's where Matthew Grant Anson comes in. He uses Lightroom to edit this still-life portraits of LA's backstreets and staples, like Santee Alley and the Metro. His work presents a depiction of LA that is free from designer boutiques and high-end cafes. Matthew's work offers a more honest and raw look at the city of Los Angeles, in all its urban glory.

LA Pulse had the opportunity to talk with the rising LA-based photographer. Read on to meet Matthew Grant Anson and how he brings LA to life with his photography: 

What do you want people to take away from your photography?

 I want them to come away thinking "Huh, this is some real shit." 

Your work is different. You don't capture the glamorous side of LA or the slim physiques of IG models. In my opinion, your work portrays the side of Los Angeles that people do not usually see. What made you want to shoot this way? Please elaborate on your style.

 I am shooting what interests me, and I have pretty much no interest in shooting models or any moments that don't feel authentic and candid to me. When I was a kid being driven around LA by my parents, I was always interested in the sides of freeways and alleys in the city...when I became an adult, I just started going to the places I used to stare at from the car. I have a photojournalism mindset to what I'm doing, and my goal is to document the city as frequently, as long, and as well as I can. I like going through old work and seeing the skyline change, and the tags get painted over and redone and, unfortunately, the city becoming gentrified block by block.

How exactly did you first get started with photography and was it something you always wanted to do or did you stumble into it?

I became interested in photography about seven years ago. I was doing primarily music photography for my college newspaper, and I would shoot a lot of backyard punk shows around LA. After a few years, I lost interest in the shows and was more interested in capturing the environments that the shows were held in. I transitioned to street photography, and for the last five years, I've been exploring the parts of LA that appeal to me most. 

What camera or device(s) do you use to capture your work? 

I use a Sony a7sii and have been for the last few months. I like it because it has a silent shutter option. I also keep a few disposable cameras in my backpack and car, but I don't share the results of those efforts anywhere because they’ve sucked so far.

Where do you prefer to shoot? 

My favorite spots are Santee Alley, MacArthur Park, the LA River, the 110 Freeway above the tunnels, and the top of the Bendix building. 

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What advice would you give to anyone looking to pursue photography?

Photography has been nothing but a positive in my life so I'd encourage anyone to pursue it. If someone wanted to get into street photography in particular, I'd advise them to take stock of who they are and how they present to the world and operate with that in mind. If you're a person of color, female, disabled, etc., my impression is that you are more likely to encounter conflict, depending on how upfront you are with your photography. If you're white, or especially if you're a white male or white-passing male like me, you can basically drift through the world with people at the least treading lightly around you, or at most thinking you're a cop. If that's the case, I think it's required you be aware of that advantage and try to contribute to your community in some way, by filming police you encounter and speaking up when you see something that's not right. 

How do you feel the digital age has contributed to your success as a photographer? Has the community been welcoming and supportive?

I think the digital age supplied the inspiration I needed to get started, and without it, I don't think I would have stuck to this as long as I have. 

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What influences your work?

Mostly other photographers on Instagram and Tumblr. 

Where do you see yourself going with your photography?

Nowhere – this is a hobby. I have a career that has nothing to do with photography, and I like it that way. If I could shoot streets for money, I'd do that, but I don't think that's a realistic goal, and the reality is that I'm not interested in shooting anything but streets.  

Can we expect any meetups or collaborations in the future?

I'll be meeting up with my cats to collaborate on editing pictures I took two months ago, which is the size of my backlog right now. 

All photography by Matthew Grant Anson. Check out MatthewGrantAnson.com for his latest work or follow him on social @MatthewGrantAnson

 

Diving into the Creative Mind and Photography of Josh Ramirez

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By Elise Gray

LA natives and tourists alike know that Los Angeles culture is dripping with creativity. Take Venice Beach, California for example. There's nothing more artistic than breathing in the fresh air while handcrafted designs line the street. The City of Angeles is held in high esteem because it's a place where even the wildest dreams can come true. Dreams of grandiosity aside, some people venture to LA for the serenity of the scenery. When you or I come to a city like this, we relish in the experience. When a photographer and filmmaker like Irwin Josue Ramirez Marroquin looks at this city, he wonders if he can capture it and keep it forever. Irwin's work has earned him 19K followers on Instagram (jramx5) and countless adventures. His work is both captivating and informative of the gorgeous natural scenery that Los Angeles offers. If you're looking to see a different side of LA, take a look at Irwin's work and fall in love all over again. In the meantime, you can dive into his mind. LA Pulse was elated to have the following Q&A interview with this visual pioneer:

What inspired you to first get started with photography? I am wondering if it was something you always wanted to do, or if you stumbled into it like a lot of people seem to.

I was born and raised in a little town called Jutiapa, in the country of Guatemala. My passion for Photography started about three years ago when I bought my first camera. A terrific friend of mine introduced me to photography. I started shooting cars in the local car meets and car shows, I enjoyed it, but it was until I started doing landscape photography when I really fell in love with it, love to travel, explore, and meet new people everywhere I go. I love to hear the different stories about how people got into photography. I really love seeing the different kind of styles that everyone brings to it. I would describe myself as a Nature Lover and a wandering soul. I'm always thinking about where to go next, but at present, I’m a photographer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles California.

I see your work portrays various landscapes in interesting ways.

Where do you come up with your ideas to shoot? Are you on vacation, or do you wake up in the middle of the night with an itch to go to a specific spot?

Compared to what the naked eye can see, I've always tried to present a different perspective. I’ve shot the same exact place multiple times, and I always find a different way to capture it. I work at UCLA hospital full time, and whenever I have days off, I take trips with friends to these spots. Sometimes we drive four to six hours and come back the same day.

It’s time. Tell me your favorite spot to shoot – I've got to know.

My favorite place to shoot is Yosemite! At the minimum, I visit at least eight to ten times a year. When I go, it's not only to shoot but to spend some time and enjoy the area with friends.

What camera or device(s) do you use to capture your work?

I shoot with a Sony a7s mark II and even my iPhone sometimes.

Speaking of your devices, a lot of photographers swear by Lightroom as their go-to editing tool. Is that yours as well? If not, what editing tool do you prefer and why?

I love using Adobe Lightroom CC as well – it's really easy to use! However, some of my photos are edited with Adobe Photoshop.

What advise would you give to someone looking to pursue creative efforts like Photography and Film?

Everything you pursue in life takes patience, dedication, motivation, and hard work. If you really are passionate about it learn everything you can and try to develop your own style and be persistent.

At present you have 18.6k followers on Instagram alone, how do you feel the digital age has contributed to your success as a photographer? Has the community been welcoming and supportive?

We are lucky enough to live in a time where when you try to create a brand and put your name out there; social media is a huge help. I really appreciate the support I receive, especially from of all of the people who consistently show love to my work. Speaking of consistency, at first it was hard but once I kept on. My photos developed a style that's my own, and people started following me. Then more did. And then even more. Now I am where I am today. I don’t really pay too much attention to the numbers, but if you are trying to get gigs with companies, it definitely helps to have a decent amount of followers.

Are there any outside forces, photographers, artists, landscapes etc. that influence your work?

I am a believer. I believe that my creativity comes from God since He is a creative God. This is the reason why when I dive into nature; I feel connected to Him. I merely capture what He has created with my camera. However, a few other photographers inspire me as well.

Where do you see yourself going with your work?

Even though right now photography is just my hobby, I see myself traveling to different countries around the world to explore. I want to explore as much as I can. I hope to capture those beautiful foreign landscapes someday. I do wedding films as my part-time job for right now, but eventually, I would like to do it full-time.

Can we expect any meet-ups or gallery shows in the future?

Yes definitely, I’m currently starting to print some of my work and display them in upcoming gallery shows.

Lastly, what do you want people to take away from your photography? 

I know that there are so many people who don’t have the chance to travel and go to other places because of work. Life can be busy sometimes, but my goal is to bring them the beauty of the world we live in. I want to remind them that we only have one planet and that we need to take care of it.

So there you have it – the wonderfully insightful and thoughtful inner workings of a truly creative mind. If you're looking to have a bomb wedding video or just want to enjoy some good old LA scenery, visit Irwin's Instagram online @Jramx5 or visit his portfolio for professional inquiries and gallery shows!

Erick Gonzales, Street Photographer Providing a Transformative Touch to Los Angeles Life

Photo of Erick Gonzales in his element via  Dagaman .

Photo of Erick Gonzales in his element via Dagaman.

By Elise Gray

With today's modern photography, you can be in Milan in a second. Every inch of the buildings will captivate you with crisp details outlined. Social media makes you feel like you are there. We have wonderful applications like Instagram to thank for this. This new age of information has created a whole new era for digital photography. If you want to reside inside someone else's mind, take a look at their photos. In an age where visual social media platforms like Instagram have taken precedence over the traditional photo albums and portfolios we used to know, it's easier to understand a person's mind — or at least feel like you do. Capturing moments in real-time has been a fascination that predates the millennial generation. At certain points in history we were merely scribbling on the walls of caves to indicate what we were doing. Then in 1816, the first satisfactory camera image made its way into existence, and our curiosity with each other continued to thrive. There are those of us who check the Instagram daily and stalk our ex-partners to no end. And then there are others like Erick Gonzales, who have chosen to turn the platform into something else — something revolutionary. 

In an age where literally anyone can capture anything at any given time and call it art, it's hard to distinguish pure talent from the fragmented pixels you'll find sprawled out on your Instagram feed. You need a natural eye like that of Erick Gonzales to hone in on the on the architectural buildings that line our Los Angeles streets. Seeing through his lens is like taking a walk through a modern museum. Every angle depicts a different variation of how alive the city of Los Angeles still is. You can dive into the depths of Venice Skate Park or take a stroll through the Santa Monica Pier. Get lost with Mr. Gonzales as he takes you on a stroll through Ricamar, Mexico. His style is sleek and abrupt. Every picture tells a story, but his minimalistic edge tells a different story. This is what sets his work apart. 

Erick uses his unique eye to transform every photo into something more polished and pristine than what the naked eye can see. He has participated in several visual shows and various meet-ups with the Instagram community. With his current 10.2K following, Erick continues to be a driving force in the city. His overall artistic vision is to create work that is visually stimulating while still keeping the contemporary feel of whatever he's depicting. He does a great job of mixing modern images with a simple aesthetic. When we got the opportunity to talk to Erick about his work, his answer was concise:

"These are the places I've witnessed. I enjoy translating my imagination into every photo."

Erick is expecting to debut his most recent work in an upcoming art show. However, it is still in the works. While it remains in progress at this time, there is no doubt that LA Pulse and the rest of Los Angeles cannot wait to see what this emerging artist creates next. An expected collaboration between Erick and other emerging street photographers could be hitting a gallery near you, so stay tuned and check out his work on Instagram @freetransfer