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Gil Garcetti: His Second Act:

After not being re-elected as Los Angeles County’s District Attorney in 2001, Gil Garcetti had to decide what new direction his career should take and his surprising choice was urban photography.

Garcetti told the crowd gathered at the Santa Monica Main Library on January 21, that his career change was somewhat forced upon him by the county’s voters. “I could have found something else to do, in the legal field, but I thought about the fact that people are living so much longer. I myself may have another 20 to 25 years left. What can I do with that? That’s an entirely new career if you want. Everyone out there has abilities that they don’t even realize. You just have to dig a little bit,” said Garcetti.

The Former D.A.’s new career choice was helped along when he happened to be driving by the construction site of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and saw an ironworker climbing over a high arched beam. He immediately pulled out a camera and started shooting. He then decided he wanted to “simply take photographs of this beautiful raw steel geometry before it was all covered”, and capture the ironworkers doing things that we rarely see.

Access to the Disney Concert Hall construction site was obtained by Garcetti through the Ironworkers Union. The ironworkers asked him to do a book and he agreed. The book, Iron: Erecting The Walt Disney Concert Hall, was well received and so his new career as an urban photographer began.

Frozen Music is Garcetti’s second book and is a collection of panoramic photographs of the completed Walt Disney Concert Hall. His third book, Dance in Cuba, details Cuban culture through dance. The Closer, is a book of photographs that illustrates how a television show is put on the air. His most recent book, Water Is Key, focuses on the issue of safe water and health, and empowering the women of West Africa. The proceeds from his books go to support various causes. His current projects include photos for the official inauguration book titled the, Obama Photo Book, an exhibit of his work at the Los Angeles Art Exhibition, and taking photos of women on bicycles in Paris.

Garcetti explained that he likes to photograph in black and white because color in photographs can distract a viewer from the elements of a photograph he wants to emphasize. He also mentioned that he has always had an interest in photography which he had pursued as a hobby.

More information about Garcetti can be found at

The event was sponsored by the Senior Arts Foundation, The City of Santa Monica, Deerling & Sands, Squar, Milner, Peterson, Miranda & Williamson, LLP, Beth Sleroty Meltzer Fund, and Jewish Community Foundation.

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