los angeles baldessari
“Throwing Three Balls in the Air to Get a Straight Line (Best of Thirty-Six Attempts)” by John Baldessari, 1973.

The cornucopia of contrasts afforded by the enigmatic vistas of Los Angeles are no doubt a photographer’s dream, and the work of some of the very best has been collected in the recently published Both Sides of Sunset: Photographing Los Angeles, featuring sharply insightful interpretations of a city where paradox tinged with the surreal lies around every corner. Legends such as Bruce Davidson and Garry Winogrand as well as edgy contemporaries like Alex Prager are just a few of the photographers who have set out to define their visions of what makes LA a place like no other.

los angeles lopez
“Giving Tree” by Dan Lopez, 2014

The two images shown here capture the unexpected juxtapositions that somehow make perfect sense in a locale known for the fantasies it manufactures; the angularities, if you will, that in their own way shape a metropolis that can be said to be more a state of mind than anything else. John Baldessari’s shot at top, along with its title, is an apt summation of the experience – a metaphorical attempt to bring alignment to imbalance (no matter how long it takes).

Similarly, Dan Lopez – who calls Los Angeles “a virtually endless and ever-changing treasure map of transient landscapes” – manages to imbue the image shown above with an innate understanding of atmospherics and context: it’s compositionally precise, and at the same time, oddly evocative.

Along with so many other photos in Before Sunset, it demonstrates how LA will always defy cliché.