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Public Transit Areas #6: Long Beach
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© Anthony Hernandez
Purchased in part with funds provided by the Photographs Council

Anthony Hernandez
American, Long Beach, 1980
Gelatin silver print
12 3/4 x 18 5/8 in.
2005.35.19

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It is not an accident that vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines converge at a central point in this photograph, because Anthony Hernandez is deliberately playing with a visual cliché. In this picture the vanishing point is located to one side of a woman's head as she stands waiting for the bus, gazing rather impatiently in the direction from which it might arrive. A visual tension is created between the compositional diagonals, a vertical pole in the foreground, and the woman standing next to it. One can't help but notice the crisp details that surround her, like the signage of at least three banks.

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.