John Humble has been photographing the Southern California landscape for 30 years. His photographs, currently on display at The Getty Center, capture specific moments in the city’s evolving persona and way of life, illuminating recognizable, but often overlooked, images.
The 40-piece collection entitled A Place in the Sun is divided thematically between the urban landscape and the enigmatic Los Angeles River that runs through the city’s heart.
Photographed with an eye that looks for the contractions and juxtapositions within the inherent beauty of his vaguely familiar subjects, his photographic journey takes us through a cross-section of the sometimes threatening cityscapes, from the homeless seeking shelter in the river’s channels, to settings from East Los Angeles to Carson to Venice to Long Beach to Bell Gardens, each capturing the quirky aspect of that particular location visually, with a strong emotional undercurrent that transports the viewer back to a special time in a forgotten place.
Humble, a tall, movie-star handsome man with gray hair and steel-rimmed glasses, was born into a Washington, D.C. military family in 1944. He was drafted during the Vietnam War, after which he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland. He worked for a brief time as a photojournalist for the Washington Post and eventually settled in Los Angles in the mid-1970s supporting himself as a “freeway teacher,” which meant taking assignments in various schools. He recently retired and will now devote himself full-time to his photography.
Despite what could be characterized as a financial temptation, Humble stays true to his artistic integrity and does not accept commissions, as “I only shoot what pleases me.” As far as this exhibit, Humble said, “Being at the Getty is unbelievable. It’s a dream come true.”
John Humble’s thought-provoking exhibit will be on display at the Getty’s new suite of galleries devoted to photographs though July 8.