Seeing LA Through a New Lens


Words & Photos by Nadine Wassenaar - @nadinealexandra


Upon first arriving in LA, I experienced a great deal of culture shock; Accustom to quiet and reserved yet a collective society, I found LA to be a blaring place; boisterous people, heavy traffic, florid colors.

It was difficult to feel at ease at first, I found the uncertainty behind the unpredictability of others quite nerve-wracking.

In the beginning it was difficult to feel at ease once leaving my home, as I found the unpredictability of others and my own disorientation rattling to me. Only a few weeks later did I realize the strain that my surroundings had had on my body and mind; Sitting on a train one day, I noticed that I felt different somehow. I felt calm. After that point, I was able to freely think and explore creatively.  

Having spent my last years living in Europe, I realized upon returning to North America that I have slowly but surely grown further away from its’ culture and values, landing somewhere in-between the two. I’m thankful for it, as that distance has helped me gain a space for reflection and critical thinking. I have discovered a new fascination and curiosity while keeping watch; The USA’s recent history and people are particularly compelling to me.

Perhaps the most startling difference I noticed while in LA lies in one simple fact; contact with other people is not a necessity, nor a common desire; people drive alone in their cars, tinted windows, from destination to destination, never having the opportunity to interact with others. While this optimizes comfort and security, I feel it’s also a loss in the sense of community. You no longer need to do life with others around you.  This made me realize that though LA has many beautiful factors to it, it can also seem lonely and isolated in many ways.

Yes, it takes a long time to get places walking or using public transit- I myself sometimes complain about the precious time that is ‘stolen’ from my day due to delays; but on the other hand, one can find countless interesting things along the way. A peculiar street or a curious shop. Allowing you to set your feet on foreign ground that you might not step otherwise.

While afoot on the streets of LA, I personally feel a sense of nostalgia towards a former era. A cliché thought, perhaps, but I can’t help but consider the desires and fantasies that people have and still do encompass when coming to this city. There’s something beautiful and admirable about the boldness and grit that the people carry, but at the same time, something heartbreaking and grotesque about the repercussions.

Perhaps the the architecture of LA has two sides as well. The buildings are revealing of the past, and striving for something; Some buildings were created with the intention of appearing luxurious, beautiful, exotic, expensive; others were created direct, blunt, and forthright.

Regardless of what each building is conveying, what I love the most about LA is the Californian sun; it brings the architecture and streets of LA to life with atmosphere. From bleak sunlight to a delicate twilight, shadows transverse across areas creating new dynamic with each inch advancing or retreating. I love to wander neighborhoods, streets, and find - perchance, unnoticed corners and spaces, and embolden them through my imagery. While shooting, I search for a combination of texture, oddities, and dialogue. It’s not uncommon for me to isolate a chosen space in order to draw attention to it. Sometimes it’s easy on the eye, and sometimes it’s not, much like the city of LA itself.


For the dreamer - For the adventurer