Lost Angeles

Gingko. Feb. 2022. 176p. ISBN 9781584237716. $55. PHOTOG
Dressel is a Hollywood sound editor by profession, having shared in winning Oscars and Golden Reel Awards—an unusual background for a photographer, but he also has a keen eye, as evinced by these black-and-white street photographs taken in 2014–20 Los Angeles. An admirer of humanist photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dressel eschews digital post-processing for an aesthetic that dates to the early 20th century, favoring spontaneous street portraits and the ebb and flow of urban life, a style that demands he be both bold and gregarious. His is a Felliniesque carnival (unhoused people, street performers, gawking tourists), conveying a flawed humanity and a tragic sense of life. The uncaptioned photographs appear to have been made mostly in downtown LA along Hollywood Boulevard and in Venice Beach; viewers must search for meaning in the images themselves, without orienting text. Sometimes the ironic juxtapositions seem too easy (e.g., a down-and-out person sitting next to a bus shelter sign reading “Here’s to Drinking Your Dessert”), but more often the images are unsettling or grotesquely comic, with that odd capacity photography has for telling but not explaining.
VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in classic street photography.
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