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Art

The Photography of Hussein Katz

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Hussein Katz is a native Angeleño who has built an impressive photography career working in multiple genres and for many publications. His personal work is intimate yet mysterious and will be on display at Trencher starting tonight at 7pm. 1305 Portia Street.

What's your favorite taco?
Mariela’s on 3rd & Catalina. It’s the best Carne Asada in my opinion & the hot sauce is incredible.

How does the city of Los Angeles play into your work?
I’m a native of this city & it’s a strong influence in who I am. I’ve always loved L.A. & have gained inspiration from all of it’s aspects. The light, the people, the concrete streets, the skyline, the trees, the mountains, & beaches are all so varied & beautiful. There have been so many distinct styles that were born out of this city which are also woven into my work I think.

What got you into photography? What keeps it interesting?
I got into photography at a summer camp when I was 13-14 in Santa Barbara & there was something about the developing process that really enticed me. I always enjoyed taking pictures but once I saw them come to life on paper in the darkroom I was hooked. I was drawn to it for the fact I liked documenting life in pictures so I could relive those memories. It stays interesting for me because it’s always evolving which keeps me on my toes & excited about the possibilities.

When and where were you most happy?
That’s a hard question… If I really think about it then I’d have to say when I was in high school during the early 90’s with my first car. It opened up this whole city to me with a freedom riding the bus couldn’t provide. I had so many adventures with great friends & people during a very exciting stage of life. It really felt like a huge playground or like living in a movie with an awesome soundtrack.

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You've photographed a long list of celebrities and artists. Do you have a favorite shoot?
I think shooting Molly Ringwald’s Jazz album cover stands out for a few reasons. It was a collaboration between her & I so it was completely our concept with total freedom in executing it. The fact that she is one of the sweetest people around made it even more enjoyable. The pictures that came out of that shoot were beautiful & felt so good in the process. It’s not really a genre she’s known for but it was always a big part of her life as her father was a Jazz musician & she grew up with that influence. We had total artistic freedom to come up with the idea for the album cover & we were on the same page with all our ideas the whole time. It also sounds amazing because she had great musicians & an incredible voice. It was truly a pleasure getting to know her & the band.

What does a fun night out look like for you?
Well nowadays a fun night out is spent with friends having dinner at a good restaurant or at someone’s house. I feel being with close friends & sharing a meal is how I relax from everyday life. We might go to any part of this city although mostly around Northeast LA & Downtown since it’s closer to where we all live.

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Who are your favorite visual artists?
I think my favorites are also my friends. Aside from producing amazing art, knowing them as people & how hard they’ve worked getting to where they’re at make me like their pieces even more. There is Gajin Fujita, Eduardo Sarabia, Defer, Saber, & Pablo Cristi to name a few.

Who inspires you?
I would have to say my father. I’m fortunate to have such an honorable man lead by example. I credit my work ethic & love of art in part to his influence. I’m inspired to live up to the standard he has created for me.

Your portraits are so vivid. What are the key elements in creating an amazing portrait
I think there has to be a connection made with your subject however big or small. I also believe honesty in your intentions & flexibility are important. I sometimes enter into making a portrait with a very clear idea of what I want it to look like but if I was too rigid then the natural flow isn’t allowed to happen which helps produce the best results sometimes.

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Favorite hidden part of Los Angeles?
A lot of those hidden spots I once loved are gone because they’ve been built up or thanks to the internet almost nothing is a secret anymore. I used to sneak into The Ambassador Hotel with friends when it was still up & we’d explore as much of it as possible while freaking ourselves out about the ghosts in that place. I’ve always loved downtown & recently got to explore the old underground train tunnels once used by the city’s trolley cars.

Do you have a lucky number?
I don’t really have a lucky number but growing up here in LA I’ve always liked 13.

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