Los Angeles photographer, Nancy Baron, is a keen observer of the vernacular landscape. Based in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, Nancy says rather than searching for exotic subjects in distant locations, I like to discover the uncharted center of the universe next door; and capture the majesty of the often plain and unexpected settings in which like-minded people find a place to belong.
I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, where my character was indelibly defined. I grew up in a large family of colorful and passionate personalities that have left me forever drawn to “the character.” After teaching elementary school in Chicago’s inner city for five years, my passion for movies led to a career change. I first worked as a stylist for print ads and commercials, then as a producer of commercials and documentaries.
I eventually realized my ultimate dream of working with Albert and David Maysles when I co-produced “Muhammad and Me,” their documentary of Muhammad Ali and his relationship with Larry Holmes. A subsequent move to Los Angeles coincided with a shift to creative screenplay development. Eventually I began to miss being around the camera and started studying still photography. These studies led me back to my love of documentaries, this time, in the still format. I continue to be inspired by the people and places I photograph as I document their unfolding stories.
Nancy’s project, Palm Springs Life, was selected for the prestigious slide show presentation at the Palm Spring Photo Festival. Set to Frank Sinatra’s The Good Life, her images brought the timeless Palm Springs lifestyle to life. The second series featured, Now It’s a Church, looks at pop-up houses of worship that are a long way from the cathedrals of old.
In the four years that Palm Springs has been my second home, I’ve found it to be both exactly and nothing like what I thought it would be. The city has ridden the waves of economic and cultural trends, leaving a wide variety of lifestyle choices in their wake. It is, at once, small-town America and an iconic American resort town, accessible to all, with something for everybody.
Statement for Now It’s a Church:
Two blocks from my home in Los Angeles is a storefront church with Spanish signage. Its plain façade, protected by a steel gate, is easy to overlook.
Some nights, while stopped at the light on the corner, the sound of live music announces that church is in session. The simple structure has come to life and glows with the sights and sounds of the warm gathering.
Driving around L.A. and Chicago, I search out these handmade churches and photograph the exteriors only, leaving the interior up to the imagination of the viewer, as it is to passersby. Unlike buildings designed as classic churches, these storefronts and converted homes have distinct personalities. I appreciate the care with which these humble structures have been molded into houses of worship, offering the same (or more) hope and comfort found in any grand sanctuary.
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