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Public Transit Areas #12: Los Angeles
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© Anthony Hernandez
Purchased in part with funds provided by the Photographs Council

Anthony Hernandez
American, Los Angeles, 1980
Gelatin silver print
12 13/16 x 18 9/16 in.
2005.35.16

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This is not a static scene, despite the fact that the main subjects in it are simply waiting for the bus. The picture is filled with tension--of a visual kind. A newspaper vending machine and a man in a hat anchor the image's two lower corners, as diagonal lines forming the sidewalk's edges shoot out from them and meet in the distance. Elements that are either moving or at a diagonal angle to the horizon seem especially pronounced in relation to subjects that are visually still--like the man sitting on a bench with his legs and arms crossed as he eyes the photographer.

This photograph is part of Anthony Hernandez's series, Public Transit Areas (1979-80), which focused on people waiting at bus stops in Los Angeles. The invasive, sensory elements of the city vie for attention with vulnerable looking individuals immersed in their own private worlds. Hernandez used relatively large photographic equipment--a five-by-seven-inch camera mounted on a tripod--to achieve sharp focus throughout his images. A consistent, formulaic approach to composition also heightens the visual tension. By centering his human subjects in the frame, the street's one-point perspective as it recedes into the distance is emphasized. Background details compete for attention because their specifics change from image to image, even as the placement of basic elements remains fixed.