Pier Fishing in LA

02.22.2005 | Gary Copeland | Partisan Art, Photography, Urban Affairs | 2 Comments
Fishing and photography are similar. Both demand the patience to go out and find the right place at the right time. Sometimes you get some great shots or catch a big fish, sometimes you don’t. But that is not really the point to either endeavor, at least for me.

It’s different, though, for the people at the pier. To get there you take Washington Boulevard, a street that runs straight through Los Angeles, all the way West to the Pacific. The pier itself is nothing special, just a large concrete intrusion over the edge of the ocean of more or less the same kind you’d find in any coastal city.

I’ve been fishing there for eight years, and taking photos of the other fishermen for the last two. The people who inhabit the pier day in and day out are the other Los Angeles, the one you don’t see on television, or at the nice new condo developments in Marina Del Rey and Venice. Older Russian immigrants, Mexican and Asian families all stand side by side, ready and patient. Just about everyone out on the pier is fishing for food— there is no sport fishing with five hungry kids at home.

Fishing is the common call, trumping the cultural and language differences. It’s the same here for everyone —if the fish are biting it’s a good day, if they aren’t, well…

Mostly people catch small sea bass and halibut, and on a lucky day maybe a large sand shark. It’s a good place to fish. The city tells you not to eat too much of anything you catch there because of the pollution, but, like I said, everyone there eats what they catch, and they keep coming back.

When I started shooting the piers, most of the fishermen (and fisherwomen) weren’t thrilled with some guy running around sticking a lens in their face. I’ve been chased away by crazy homeless guys who congregate there early in the morning. I’ve been asked very politely in Spanish to stop taking pictures. And, I’ve been prodded for money in exchange for my subjects’ compliance. (I never paid). These days, though, I’ve been out here shooting long enough no one much cares or even notices.

I’ve only had the opportunity once to show anyone who I have photographed there a picture I have taken of them. There is a Mexican father and son on the pier every Saturday, from sunrise to sunset. I recently gave the man a photo I took of his son holding a 3 foot sand shark they caught one morning. The smile on his face was priceless.

The pictures are beautiful. I love you
02.22.2005 | mindy copeland
Can't say I love you, dun, but the pix are real nice indeed.
02.22.2005 | Jon Blaze

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