Anthony Hernandez is known for his lush images of urban landscapes such as the L.A. River. He began photographing in black-and-white in the early ’70s, mostly people downtown, and when he experimented with color in Beverly Hills in the ’80s, things did not go so well at first. “Finally, at the beginning of ’84,” he says, “I made my first picture that worked. I’d go to Rodeo Drive at least four or five days a week in the middle of the day and spend a few hours. I was working in a very particular way, photographing as I passed people on the street — very quickly, very intuitively making a picture just at that moment. I used what is called zone focus. Basically, you don’t have time to focus your camera so you pre-set focus to 6 or 8 feet, framing people the way you want to frame them, and quickly bringing the camera to your eye. Not until you get your film back do you know if the subjects were in the zone of focus. It’s like a dance, in the sense of passing through this very animated landscape of people and cars and buildings. Everything is very fluid, the way I’m moving and making the picture.
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