Since its birth as a quick-fire snapshot of the people and things making up urban environment, street photography has evolved into a carefully constructed and often rather slick subgenre. Often, these supposedly “off the cuff” shots are carefully staged and meticulously planned, but not so if you’re photographer Patrick Gookin.
The Massachusetts-born, LA-based artist and photographer has put together a new book, Surface Relations, entirely using images shot on his iPhone while commuting by car through Los Angeles. Shot between 2012 and 2016, the images show snapshots of daily life as seen through this very personal yet rather universal viewpoint; capturing everyday instances like pedestrians, parking lots, suburban lawns, billboards and trees and somehow rendering them rather poignant. Put together and framed as an art book, it makes the viewer think twice about the same old stuff they see out the window every day.
“When you drive down these seemingly endless, scarcely populated boulevards, your impressions of your surroundings and your interactions with people and the landscape never go beyond the surface level,” says Gookin. “'Surface streets' is this uniquely LA phrase that brings to mind a very different city from the quintessential crowded freeway image, and to me it had unintended resonance with the way I experience the city. I think that in Surface Relations, what emerges is a portrait of LA that many people will recognise.”
Surface Relations is designed by Niall Sweeney of London-based studio Pony Ltd.