I'm a documentary style Photographer from Venice CA. I grew up in Venice and I was a little kid in the 1970'z, a teen in the mid to late 1980'z, and a young adult in the early 1990'z. I grew up surfing the Venice Break Water (Venice Break Water Locals), skating at the Venice Pavilion with my friends who were the most influential skaters of that era, and getting into all kinds of mischief (For lack of a better word) with my homiez. The majority of my photos that you will see on here were shot from the mid 1980'z to the mid 1990'z. That era was an extremely volatile, gritty, dangerous, violent, chaotic, crazy, unruly, insane, and radical on many levels, and for me being 14 to 25 years old during that time it was all a beautiful disaster and very fun to say the least, I loved every second of it. Oh ya, and let's not forget all of that beautiful graffiti, the more the better, graffiti art, tagging, gangster style, murals, stories, political, statements, every style of graffiti covered the streets and it made for an incredible aesthetic. My photos are an insiders perspective, I was a part of all you see, it was my everyday life. Being from the school of Gonzo Journalism I was a participant documenting my world. I still live in Venice today, and all though it has changed in many ways over the decades, I still document all I see around me every day. 97% of the photos you see on here were shot on real film, even some of the newer ones are shot on film, there are very few that are shot on digital on here, the newer ones on here that are shot on film say "Shot on film" in the text that goes with that particular photo. Most rolls were hand developed by me in high school in my photo class. I never went for clean, I went for real. My photos are far from perfect, but the imperfections make them unique. I still shoot that way to this day. I shot with and still shoot with my original Nikon FM2 camera with a 28mm lens, both were second hand used and bought at the old Venice Camera Exchange (RIP) that use to be on the SW corner of Venice Blvd and Lincoln Blvd. I also had a second hand used 500mm lens bought at the VCE as well, as seen in some of my old photos on here. I also had a really cheap water camera bought at the VCE too, hence some of the water shots. I would borrow a fisheye lens from Luke "Doc" Hudson (RIP) from time to time, hence some of the fisheye shots. I shot with Tri-X 400 black & white film the majority of the time, every once in a while I would shoot color slide film. All of my photos were a one shot take, meaning I did not have a motor drive, no shot was a part of a sequence, each shot was do or die, each shot was its own entity of that single image.
Education: Venice High School (Class of '88). My photo teacher was the awesome and talented Larry Shapiro. Larry told us this quote on the very first day of class and he stuck to those words the whole time I studied under him...
"I won't be teaching you how to use a camera, I'll be teaching you how to make art with your camera”.
Me at 17 years old. Venice, CA. 1987
Photo: Steve Shelp