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June 7, 2022

People in Cars: Fascinating Black and White Photos of People Driving in Los Angeles in the 1970s

In 1970, Mike Mandel began to photograph the inhabitants of 1970s California in their cars. 

“On a late afternoon with the light low in the west I’d regularly find my spot on the corner of Victory Blvd. and Coldwater Canyon Ave. in Van Nuys (ironically, so close to home I could easily walk there). It was a busy intersection with a wealth of cars pulling my way to make a right turn.” Mandel said. “I was using a 28mm wide angle lens on my 35mm camera, which meant that I had to get in pretty close to the window to get my shot, and when I did there would inevitably be a reaction: surprise, amusement, and on some few occasions, annoyance.”

“In contrast to how this project might play out today, it seemed then that people enjoyed being recognized by the camera and readily participated in the playfulness of the moment. It was warm outside, the car windows were open. It was the window that framed and instilled these portraits with the language of the automobile environment.”


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