Eric M Cwiertny, an O.C. photog and ad man, on what compels him to DTLA to document its former cinema queens and much more.
AFLW: You work in advertising in Orange County and take high-level surfing photos. What inspires you to trek to photograph the historic theaters on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles?
Eric M Cwiertny: I love the detail of the buildings. I love that they’re there, that I have the opportunity to see them. For the people who designed them, like S. Charles Lee, who designed the Los Angeles Theatre, there was a love of detail, of ornamentation, that went into each building. Going to that area helps me relive a time when there was character, detail and design, and care was taken for the way things were built — architects thought about where decorative details might go.
My heart goes back to a time when things were a little more fancy, more “old school” than modern. It was a different mindset, when every detail was important. And it looks great in photos.
AFLW: There seems to be a sense of sadness that comes through in your images. Does this express how you feel about Los Angeles?
EMC: I worry a lot that this is a race against time. For the most part, I go down there and see the disrepair and, whether it’s a layer of grime or some missing neon, a broken letter here or there, it does sadden me because with just a little TLC these beautiful structures could be right back where there were when they first made them, some nearly 100 years ago.
AFLW: How do you feel this sense of anguish relates to our issue theme of love/hate in L.A.?
With a little bit of love, these theatres can come back, bring enjoyment, and help others explore their love for the arts and really bring that thriving Broadway community back. There is a lot of longing and yearning that people share for the area. I share that love. So I take pictures of what I love and try to convey to those feelings. Maybe in some small way it helps keep the ball rolling.
Eric M Cwiertny. Ad agency owner, creative director, editor and photographer. California native. Avid traveler who enjoys exploration and creating new adventures. Lover of vintage architecture, art and culture.