They may be just a little prejudiced, but Western Region still photographers like to boast almost anything is available to capture when they turn their eyes from the set and follow their passion. Some turn to the streets, like Tony Rivetti Jr. (who was recently named one of the “11 Best Street Photographers in L.A.”). For Temma Hankin, it’s trading the organized chaos of a set for the cacophony of a music concert or the wonder of what she’ll find behind the doors of L.A.’s iconic music venues. Erin Simkin seeks out peaceful moments and compelling images in deserted desert settings or out-of-the-way towns. John Fleenor takes his quiet time away from the set very seriously, locking himself away from the studio with only his loud music for inspiration as he picks up his brush and lets that part of his creativity flow. Ask all four, and we bet they’ll agree; what they do when not on the set feeds their soul. Besides, as Fleenor says, “it’s cheaper than therapy!”
Tony Rivetti Jr.
When not shooting on set, Tony Rivetti Jr.’s passion is street photography. While getting his degree in journalism, he studied street photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Gary Winograd, Robert Rank, Bruce Davidson, and Diane Arbus. “Shooting street photography is very dynamic,” he says. “It’s fluid and exhilarating. There is so much life on the city streets and to walk around with a camera and photograph it, well there is nothing else like it. It’s an amazing process and style of photography that I use every day of my life; whether I’m shooting my kids or shooting on a movie set, my photography is defined by street photographers and street photography.” Recently, Rivetti’s “street” work was recognized in a story on Peerspace naming the “11 Best Street Photographers in L.A.”
John P. Fleenor
“As artists, we sometimes find ourselves pulled in different directions,” says John Fleenor. While he enjoys capturing images through the lens, his main muse ever since he could hold a crayon is drawing. “I was introduced to oil painting in art school, and even though I have had a few starts and stops with my paintings over the years, it has been an artistic freedom that I am unable to replicate by any other process and the reason I cannot leave it.” It kept him steady during the lockdown, but now that he’s back to the set, he finds his paintings to be therapeutic on countless levels. “I often joke that the reason I paint is because ‘it’s cheaper than therapy,’ but there is total truth in that statement. All of our art comes from a very intimate place in our souls, it’s precious, wonderful and for some reason, we all feel compelled to put it out to public scrutiny and accolades. Currently, I’m painting at an unprecedented pace, sneaking away to my ‘studio,’ music blasting, and loving every second I can steal away to do it. My paintings are not for everyone, but again, that’s not the point.”
On her days away from the set, she gets lost with her camera, finding a new town she has never been to, or taking a walk or a road trip and exploring her surroundings using her instincts to guide her. “Taking these trips has helped me see the world with fresh eyes and to find interesting places all around me,” she says. “I especially have a love of photographing the desert. I grew up in Canada, and when I was younger, I visited my grandparents in Palm Springs every winter. I loved the color palette, landscape, nostalgia, and energy of the desert and have been photographing it ever since.” Over the past decade, Simkin has been selling her prints online and, when she can steal away from the set, at various markets around Los Angeles and to commercial clients all over. “I have met so many wonderful people along the way while getting to share my art with the world.”
Temma Hankin admits it – she’s a concert junky. “One of the biggest perks of living in Los Angeles is that almost any musician you could want to see will eventually come through town,” she says. When she’s off set, she’s always up to hear musicians, from a friend playing a few songs at a bar to a big rock show with pyrotechnics at the Staples Center or traveling to another state for multi-day festivals. “Sometimes I’ll end up with media credentials and get to photograph a concert, which is always a great time. I try to stay in the moment and just enjoy the show if I’m not there on an assignment, but of course, I can never resist capturing a few moments on my phone.” Live shows are one of the things she’s missed most during this last year. So, during the pandemic, she began going around Los Angeles and taking photos of the marquee signs and outsides of the silent venues since there couldn’t be any live events. Now that work is back, she’s anticipating what will take her off the set and into her other world – music. “My concert calendar for this fall is already filling up,” she says in anticipation.