“I’ve photographed rabbis, rock stars, a deaf activist from Compton, a best-selling author, a Top Chef Masters TV personality, the president of KCRW, the chair of Amnesty International, a homeless woman who lives on Ballona Creek, and dozens of other wonderfully interesting and diverse Angelenos.”
Alon Goldsmith was originally born in South Africa, but has lived in the U.S. in Los Angeles since 1985. He spent six years in Israel straight out of high school where he attended college working toward a degree in English Literature, then opened an independent record store and founded a record label with some friends.
Later in life, he gravitated toward photography — and about 10 years ago, he began commuting by bike to his job and started taking photos with the convenient camera he had in his pocket. Since then, his world has changed, and he hasn’t looked back.
“I’ve been fortunate to be able to supplement my income with the photography side of things for the last few years — it really is my passion.” He shares.
During the pandemic, Alon has taken the opportunity to spend more time with his family alongside launching two meaningful creative projects. The first project is called “In Place | Portraits of a Pandemic,” in which he photographs Angelenos sheltering in place on their doorsteps and through their windows. He writes stories to accompany the photographs, featuring each household and documenting their experiences, feelings and thoughts about life during this pandemic.
The second project he’s working on is called FRESH PAINT — an exciting collaborative project with the gifted artist Trevor Romain, in which the two of them work together to combine photography with digital art “with some surprising results.”
Read more about Alon’s COVID-19 unique and innovative pandemic experience from Los Angeles, CA below:
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced during quarantine/the COVID crisis?
“The biggest challenge for me has been existential. Day to day I have found things to be relatively easy other than decision making regarding whether to march during the protests or mitigate against COVID-19 risk. My family did attend a couple of protests and then we had ourselves tested. Fortunately we tested negative. “
Is there anything you feel that you’ve learned through this experience, you can share as inspiration to those who are feeling a bit defeated by everything?
“There seems to be a great simplification that has taken place for me, which has provided room to breathe, time to pursue passions and a space to appreciate the people in my life and explore intangibles.
I have learned that there is tremendous power in accepting our powerlessness in the greater scheme of things. For the first time since I was a college student, I am feeling empowered and energized to harness circumstance and possibility in shaping reality and making things happen.”
Has this experience in any way changed the way that you order your personal priorities in life?
“I am going through a shift in my attitudes to money and economic success. I am by nature someone who worries pathologically about finances and bringing in enough to keep the wheels turning. The pandemic has changed things in that regard. A combination of being able to put off fiduciary obligations, an injection of cash from various programs, and a radical change in the amount of money we spend as a family, has contributed to a sense of calm and a hiatus from financial stress. More importantly, it’s given me permission to pursue creative endeavors without feeling like I’m dropping the ball on career ambitions and my responsibilities to provide for my family.”
What has your local community been doing to fight the rate of transmission?
“Mine is a family of mask wearers and ‘physical distancers.’ Anything less is alarmingly irresponsible and boggles the mind.”
What has been your general daily routine so far during the pandemic?
“Wake up at about 7:30a.m. Check email and social media, play a few rounds of Lexulous. Yoghurt, granola and cut up apples to feed the beast and then I head out for a 60 minute ride to the beach and back. Quick dunk in the hot tub and then I tackle my projects for the day, take care of chores, attend the occasional Zoom and enjoy the close proximity of my wonderful family.
Come evening, I battle to stay awake watching politics on TV, eat a delicious dinner and then continue trying to stay awake through the plethora of amazing content available via streaming services. Turn in at around midnight.”
What have you been doing to keep your spirits up on a day-to-day basis?
“Since lockdown, I have been working on a photo project called “In Place | Portraits of a Pandemic.” Three or four times a week, I head out and photograph Los Angelenos who are sheltering in place on their doorsteps and through their windows. (Physical distancing is maintained throughout) I have also been writing stories to accompany the photographs about each household documenting their experiences, feelings and thoughts about life during the pandemic.
The subjects of In Place | Portraits of a Pandemic are a random sampling of people I’ve encountered in my thirty five year history in Los Angeles, as well as people I’ve met through serendipitous encounters as a result of the project. I’ve photographed rabbis, rock stars, a deaf activist from Compton, a best-selling author, a Top Chef Masters TV personality, the president of KCRW, the chair of Amnesty International, a homeless woman who lives on Ballona Creek, and dozens of other wonderfully interesting and diverse Angelenos. You can see the series on Facebook and on my website www.alongoldsmith.com.
My plan is to continue documenting what we are going through collectively as a way to connect us to each other for as long as COVID-19 works to keep us apart. Hopefully a book and an exhibition will see the light of day when this is all over.
I’m also working on FRESH PAINT, an exciting collaborative project with gifted artist Trevor Romain in which we combine photography with digital art with some surprising results. Another exhibition, book and other surprises that will hopefully see the light of day in a post COVID-19 world.
All that said, nothing keeps my spirits up more than watching my two amazing daughters loving each other and growing closer than they’ve ever been.”
Has this travel ban/quarantine situation impacted any especially important future plans you had laid out?
“Not really, other than a family trip to South Africa that was supposed to happen in April. However, my 18-year old daughter has had her senior year in high school severely impacted and her college plans blown to kingdom come. Not been easy for her.”
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