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Jewish Journal

Say Cheese, L.A.

by Leora Alhadeff

May 20, 2004 | 8:00 pm

What's a Brooklyn-born Jewish engineer doing photographing the streets of Los Angeles?

"Anything is possible," said Larry Brownstein, photographer, author and publisher of "Los Angeles, Where Anything is Possible." (Brownstein Publications, $19.95)

"My folks were encouraging me to do the typical Jewish thing ... doctor ... lawyer," he said, so Brownstein earned his engineering degree. After college he moved to California for work, but it didn't take long before he was itching for a new challenge.

On Venice Beach, Brownstein met traveling photographer Harry Peronius who introduced him to life behind the lens. They traveled through the Far East together, taking pictures. When Brownstein returned, he continued with his newfound passion.

Now 45, Brownstein has finally put his engineering work aside and found a way to make his art pay the bills.

"I wanted to capture the fact that we're not your typical city," he said, and with that inspiration, he began his photo book of Los Angeles. Filled with vivid images, the book captures all things reminiscent of the city's vibe -- colorful people, bold architecture and, of course, its laid-back energy.

"We are the city that makes up the dreams for the rest of the world," he said.

One of Brownstein's favorite shots in the book is "Hippie Man" on Venice Beach. Three braids keep this elderly man's long, white beard in order and flowers hang over his shoulders. Clear-rimmed frames and dark lenses shade his eyes, but Brownstein manages to capture his expressive message. "He is marching to the beat of his own special drummer," he said.

One of Brownstein's goals in the photo-book endeavor was not only to present Angelenos and out-of-towners the city of Los Angeles with aesthetically pleasing photos, but also to follow their dreams. The theme and title of the book, "Anything is Possible," highlights the course of Brownstein's own life and the realization of his own dreams.

"It's this idea that anything is possible. You can grow up in Brooklyn and find yourself in L.A. You can have an engineering degree and end up being a photographer," he said. "I hope it inspires others to go one step beyond..."

For more information visit www.larrybrownstein.com .

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