People in Cars: Candid photo series captures drivers in the raw

In LA in 1970, photographer Mike Mandel took the idea of street photography and did something a little different with it. He carried his camera to an intersection near his home, and started to take candid photos of drivers going past.

All images by Mike Mandel. Courtesy of the Robert Mann Gallery

All images by Mike Mandel. Courtesy of the Robert Mann Gallery

"On a late afternoon with the light low in the west, I’d regularly find my spot," Mandel explains. "It was a busy intersection with a wealth of cars pulling my way to make a right turn. 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 recognised 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."

Now, interest in the series has revived with the forthcoming launch of a book, People in Cars, and an accompanying exhibition, Good 70s at SFMOMA, starting 20 May. Released on 11 May, the book is published by Stanley/Barker in partnership with Robert Mann Gallery, and is priced £35 / €40 / $45.

The book is being released to coincide with Mike's Good 70s exhibition at the Robert Mann Gallery. And the show opens on 11 May.


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