Paul Jasmin's "California Dreaming"

The Photographer-Legend Captures the Young Wistful Beauty of LA

“I have always been a dreamer,” writes photographer Paul Jasmin in the introduction to his new book, California Dreaming. It is a state of mind perfectly suited to his hometown of Los Angeles—a city whose famously muslin sunlight has long been a lure for artists, directors, actors, photographers, and young hopefuls looking to capture a slice of LA’s legendary dazzle. These striving talents are the subjects of Jasmin’s new tome (which follows 2002's Hollywood Cowboy and 2004's Lost Angeles), a series of portraits shot in and around the photographer’s Koreatown apartment, a Spanish-style mission revival building where newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst is rumored to have once sequestered his lover, the movie star Marion Davies. The pictures offer a mythic narrative of youth and longing: lost lovers and nubile beauties in the desert or idyllic gardens. Jasmin—or “Jazz,” as his friend Bruce Weber dubbed him—says he aims to create images that “are a bit more beautiful, or heroic, or glamorous than perhaps the subjects are in real life.” Before picking up a camera, Jasmin worked as an illustrator, a painter and an actor, his most notable—and odd—screen role being the voice of Norman Bates' mother in Psycho (a part swung for him by his friend Anthony Perkins). Now a popular instructor at Art Center in Pasadena, he tells his students: “California is an alluring place, but I look at Hollywood as a state of mind; it’s all in the imagination. You have to create your own reality; with work, with home and with friends.” Of his students (who have included Amanda De Cadenet, Melodie McDaniel, Dewey Nicks, and good friend Sofia Coppola) and the young aspirants about town, Jasmin says, “That is my fantasy life. They keep me dreaming.”

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Conversations (1)

  • aph kay
    cool; the soundrack of this should be Drinking in L.A. by Bran Van 3000

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