The Blades Project | Street View Photography
“The Blades Project brilliantly captures the idiosyncratic motifs of the Hollywood underbelly. All walks of life are displayed, from tourists mesmerized by the star walk, to the jaded souls lost by the temptations of the seductively ferocious neighborhood. With a display of lure and grit existing next to each other, they successfully captured the spellbinding essence of the Boulevard. Strapping on their skates, blading on every inch of pavement with pocket cameras in hand, freestyle shooting from the hip, and the only goal of not stopping to frame a shot…”
Excerpt from theblades.la
Street View Photography connected with the artists behind the project. Through their personal accounts and riveting photos, they offer us a raw glimpse of Hollywood.
In the early 90’s Karl Owens and I (Bobby G.) met in LA through a mutual friend from film sets. Both being shutterbugs, we yearned for a more original and independent form of shooting. When roller blades first came out we spent some fun days downhilling in the Hollywood Bowl parking lot; we would get towed back up the hill by holding onto the bumper of a car. One time in tow we spoke of how cool it would be to blade and shoot on the fly with the only goal being not stopping to frame a shot.
The problem was we didn’t want to use our SLR’s in case of a crash or be distracted with bulk, settings, etc. Karl had an Olympus 110 and suggested using pocket cams instead. That was a lightning bolt! Yes of course! If damaged in a crash, they weren’t expensive to replace. We would have the freedom to roam the streets with camera in hand unencumbered!
We tried to encourage a mutual friend to join us, but he thought we were nuts – hitting the streets like that with no protective gear, shooting at night with a flash in people’s faces, and on Hollywood Blvd! Well that was the whole point! The streets. The real thing. The spontaneity. Whatever would be was – and the scenarios could not be fabricated! Neither of us had any point of reference from previous docu-style work, this was photo-verité and we felt the style was pioneering. We didn’t see any others out rollerblading and shooting Hollywood from the underside– the side that gets glazed over by the Entertainment machine. That was what truly inspired us. The chance to be unabashedly unique.
With the concept in place, we had no idea how the pics would turn out; it was the ultimate experiment. Karl was well versed in darkroom set up so he constructed one in his kitchen. Our 1st night we took off down the hill from his pad at Carmen Place and Gower. What a rush! To our best recollection we each shot 1 roll of film and worked into the wee hours processing and printing, totally juiced from the experience.
The first image to come out of the bath that really struck us was Blade 14 – The Clown. It was spooky. Even after all these years, Karl’s shot still gives me chills. We knew we were really onto something. The speed combined with freeze of flash made for great angles and lighting. And the kinetic, abstract context profoundly spurred us on to even more adventurous nights.
We are stoked to have finally gotten back to the project and connect it to photographers and photography buffs around the world by having SVP showcase these shots from our collection. We hope everyone, especially street photographers, are as galvanized as we were by what we saw and shot – the randomly raw and remarkable side of Hollywood Blvd. – frozen in time by blazing speed and the blink of a shutter!
Thank you SVP!
Good Light All.
Bobby G. & Karl Owens
See more of the Blades Project here – theblades.la