Coming into LA, the first sensation was feeling that perfect 21 degrees as I stepped out of the airport. Second was the blue skies surrounding the iconic LAX Theme Building. And third was turning onto Santa Monica Blvd and seeing the rainbow flags of West Hollywood, and beneath that a sign for the Ramada WeHo hotel, which would be our home for Elska Los Angeles Shoot Week.
Note that I didn't mention traffic. Skip to day three and it's really not that bad. I mean, it's bad, but it's nothing compared to what was experienced during shoot weeks in Bogotá, Mumbai, or Istanbul.
Traffic is a stereotyped vision of LA, one that has truth, but not quite as bad as you're led to believe. A highly segregated society full of endemic racism is another stereotype, and while there's surely some truth to that too, I didn't perceive it to the degree in which I'd feared. I did however perceive stark class segregation. Like when shooting a chap called BB Gunn up in the Hollywood Hills, I felt that we were being watched, that at any moment someone would shout, "You don't belong here!"
And that actually is what happened. Pulled over to get a shot with a view down Lauren Canyon, someone drove by and shouted, "That's not your parking space, you dumb fucks!" Surely my camera highlighted to him that we were outsiders, but in any case we were not welcome in this bougie part of town.
However, that's just one shoot in nine so far. The rest have been fun, easy, even joyous, and I'm discovering LA as a real, working city. It has quirks like any other, but ultimately it's just another big mass of people all trying to live and prosper as best they can.