La Mesa Automotive

May 20, 2020  •  5 Comments

Geoff Dyer, in his book, The Ongoing Moment, talks about universal photographic tropes, things that hold a photographer's eye.  Subjects such as winding roads, fences, windows and even barber poles all crop up in photographic collections.  I find that interesting cars and trucks draws my eye.  In my walks around La Mesa this spring I've come across a number of pieces of automotive art and I've collected a few here. 
Picking up BeerPicking up Beer deVilledeVille Halfa Low RiderHalfa Low Rider The Surfer Moves InThe Surfer Moves In Chevy TruckChevy Truck
The HoldupThe Holdup Driveway ConeDriveway Cone

These photos and others can be found in a magazine I produced called, Walking La Mesa.  Click the image and you can see a .pdf version. 


Todd Henson(non-registered)
Very nice series, Joe. Cars are certainly things that catch the eyes of many of us, and I love the variety in this grouping (I'm most drawn to The Holdup). I also love the magazine, really well done! It's that little piece of history, just as you described with Samuel Pepys diary. Something to look back on and remember, or for future generations, to better understand.
I consider photographers who have found their trope, their recurring motif, to be most fortunate (I have never found mine), especially when they make the most of it as you have done with yours, namely, this Americana series. As you know I have a real fondness for this sort of photography. It's real and it's honest. I very much like each and every photo, all the more so when I them compiled so wonderfully. It is no small feat to reveal authentic beauty in ugliness. Few people ever see it and fewer still are able to capture it. Perhaps this would not be your thing, but have you considered photographing the people of La Mesa? I know that photographing people is an entirely different ballgame (I have absolutely no skill at portraiture, sadly) but I imagine there would be some truly great characters with stories as engaging as your photos. Anyway, it was just a thought :)
In any case, well done Joe, a gorgeous piece of work. A genuine joy to feast my eyes on.
pj finn(non-registered)
Interesting how certain subjects grab our attention more than others do. I enjoy your ‘car collection’. I’m enjoying the hard copy version of Walking La Mesa. Thanks for putting it out. It’s fine work...
JWSmith Photography
Hey Jerry!
I see (and I believe this is Dyer’s view) tropes as what a photographer is inclined or attracted to.  I’ve always used it like tropism.  I’ve seen it used to mean cliché but I think of it more as inclination toward a subject, less an overused cliché.

I think of a meme as a pop culture phenomenom used for humor or irony and not much more.

I may come to regret that forlorn look at La Mesa. Yet, it’s what attracts me.  I’m not going to do a Home & Garden photo.  I like the textures of old and gritty.  Downtown La Mesa is up and coming and maybe someday I’ll photograph that as a documentary image but it’s really not that interesting to me.
Jerry Foodman(non-registered)
Extremely interesting photos. Plus your captions/titles are clever and insightful. But the series gives a forlorn look to La Mesa, which was surprising to me, as my impression of the downtown area was up and coming.

PS. Do you distinguish between a trope and a meme?
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