sunny strader:
artist! based in
los angeles + illinois

Photographing Other Artists

A light way to stay sharp is to photograph the other creative people who live and work in Los Angeles. Seemingly everyone is trying to make stuff, which is precisely what makes Los Angeles a lovely and difficult place to live. But when I photograph other artists, for a moment it feels like we’re all in the fight together. 

When I saw Austin Antoine perform in a hot yoga studio during Echo Park Rising last month, I knew we’d have to work together. He rapped and sang about being ‘professionally broke’ (word), millennialisms, existential dread, and vices. I felt seen! We set up a time to shoot in Boyle Heights an hour before he kicked off his cross-country tour. I think he’s in DC right now.


The sequence of three images here might seem like some intentional experiment, but really it’s because the curtain on my 1959 6x6 camera is sticking again. It’s my favorite and least reliable camera. Sometimes I fantasize about a bunch of money falling in my lap so I can replace it. 


Another artist, Mashael, contacted me via this website. She is an MFA student at USA, studying screen and television writing. In her second year, she’s come to realize some new portraits might serve her well in her professional endeavors. She is 22 and from Saudi Arabia. 


Lastly is my friend Jess, whom I assist on editorial and commercial shoots sometimes. These were taken at her house on a day when we weren’t working, we were just drinking champagne and talking about death and tarot.


Trevin

Trevin is a friend of mine from high school. When he contacted me via Instagram, I had not spoken with him in more than eight years. He said he’d just moved to San Diego and wanted to come visit LA. We drank red wine in my steamy apartment and then did a brief shoot in my neighborhood. Trevin is a natural model, I think. 

I remember him as a him as a charismatic performer, some one who is fluent in the absurd.  He was the first male I met who wore women’s clothing. He’s still the same and his sharp memory made me happy and nostalgic. I think that comes through in some of these images.


Wyoming

Living in Los Angeles has caused me to become a bit introverted when looking for some one to photograph — so many people here reject my request to make their portrait. And so many people are walking around with cameras trying to do the same thing as me. But Wyoming restored me. The residents are friendly and direct. They are curious about the camera.

This trip was something I’d been looking forward to for a long while because it was a trip planned on my own volition. I spent four days with my best friend Sally in Laramie. Sally is a writer and an MFA candidate at the University of Wyoming. She also rewires lamps, sews, and curates spaces with an intensely psychological method.

We went to the Laramie County Fair, Veedawoo, and spoke candidly with dozens of people. Here is a selection of images that sort of sum up my stay in Laramie, aka Laradise. 

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