Show Mitch Dobrowner a sprawling city and he will find a way of dwarfing it, by placing it in its natural context. In this photo essay, he captures Los Angeles. Text by Simon Willis
One day in 1982, Mitch Dobrowner was driving his green Toyota Corolla—“an awesome car”—north along the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. He’d been living out of the car for the previous four years, driving around photographing the grand landscapes of Arizona, New Mexico and California, and had recently settled in the city. Driving over the crest of a hill, he saw the sight which was the inspiration for the photographs on these pages—the San Fernando Valley spread out below him, surrounded by the San Gabriel Mountains. Then, while he ran an industrial-design business and raised three children, he stopped taking photographs for more than 20 years.
Pictured: “What I see in the photographs are these beautiful landscapes,” says Dobrowner, who shot this Los Angeles cloudscape in 2010. “And I see what mankind has built over them—these rolling buildings. I see the gulf between the landscapes and what we’ve done to them”