Hal Bergman Photography - Portfolio

No Apparent Esthetic Value

16 Aug

Lots of people have been forwarding me lots of links to blogs and news articles over the last few days.

Police Chief Jim McDonnell, of the Long Beach Police Department has recently admitted to having a policy of detaining photographers taking pictures that have “no apparent esthetic value”. The definition seems to include most “industrial areas” and excludes “things tourists often take photos of”.

I’m no stranger to this policy — although this is the first time it’s been publicly acknowledged — as I’ve been stopped over a dozen times while shooting in that area. I’ve also been detained, questioned, interrogated, yelled at, checked for warrants, searched, frisked for weapons, and been visited at my home by FBI agents.

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All for going off of the beaten path. If I took photos of the same things everyone ELSE was taking photos of, and in the same way from the same places, I wouldn’t have anything worth looking at, much less selling.

So far I’ve never been arrested in my life.

But then again, I’m not doing anything illegal.

My friends will tell you that I even drive the speed limit (although I’ve been known to jaywalk).

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Anywho, as a law-abiding citizen and full-time professional photographer, I have a tendency to shoot gritty industrial locations. Places that are made by man and are designed to be functional and efficient, and without any architectural sense. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I tend to think that oil refineries, logistics hubs, rail yards, and other typically-unseen utilitarian infrastructure has a neat esthetic.

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I thought I’d include some photos I’ve shot in the Long Beach + Port of Los Angeles area over the last few years.

After all, this one made the cover of Science Magazine two years ago:

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And this one was the photo of the day on Bing’s homepage back in May:

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Many of the photos I shoot in the port are available on Getty Images and iStockPhoto.  I’m still not sure if they have esthetic value or not, but they certainly get a lot of sales.

I might actually be overdue for a visit to Long Beach. Hey LBPD: cut that crap out.

A few more photographers who have fantastic industrial photos from the area are David Sommars, Shane Quentin, and Thomas Hawk.

After the jump, a few more photos from the industrial part of the Long Beach area I’ve shot in the last couple of years.

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