Archive for December, 2010


Many who have heeded the call to become a photographer, and others who just want to use their camera to create a powerful image, come to the Skid Row area for many reasons. For some it is the idea of capturing a crime against humanity and to promote a call to action, attempting to correct the situation of the unseen people. While others have found their targets in the downtown area known as Skid Row, for purely artistic, stark reality, that would be suitable for framing.

From Wikipedia, A skid row or skid road is a run-down or dilapidated urban area with a large, impoverished population. The term originally referred literally to a path along which workingmen skidded logs. Its current sense appears to have originated in the Pacific Northwest. Examples are Pioneer Square, Seattle, Washington; Skid Row in Los Angeles, San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, and the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver.

According to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the official boundaries of Skid Row are Third and Seventh Streets to the north and south, and Alameda and Main Streets to the east and west, respectively.

The Skid Row Photography Club (started by Michael Blaze) was founded as a safe haven for the residents of the area to have a creative output of the arts, so they could freely express themselves without any rules to restrain their creativity.

Michael Blaze, is a resident of the area, and an avid videographer, with a passion for his neighbors and friends. Some of those in need of expressing their creativity, are those who have been abused. Blaze is also responsible for bringing a photography program to the women of the Anne Douglas Center. The program offered by, Integral Opportunities Corporation (IOC), a nonprofit located in the Los Angeles area, is an opportunity for women to use cameras as a mode of expression. The organization operates a class over several weeks known as Expressions-The Art of Communication. During the class its participants express their creativity and learn aspects of photojournalism too.

One of the benefits of being a member of the photography club for the residents is donations. Residents are provided cameras, which they use to capture images and communicate to the world around them. They do appreciate the art form of photography. With the cameras they are able to shoot back and see the world around them in a new fashion. Members of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) have extended themselves to aid in the success of the club. The day-to-day operation of the club has been possible by the tireless efforts of Michael Blaze.

An activity of the Skid Row Photography Club is to associate with other photography groups in the Los Angeles area. Club members travel to places like the Huntington Library, the Venice boardwalk, The Getty and the Disney Hall. This allows the residents of the Skid Row community to visit outlining areas, where they can appreciate what the city of Los Angeles has available. They communicate with others about photography, swap stories and receive tips on how to become better.

Photo 101 class in the old Ghostbusters Firehouse in skid row.

The residents now have the ability to shoot back with their cameras, at those who have traveled to capture their images and now have a common ground for communication. The safe haven of Skid Row Photography Club, regularly produces images that are hung in galleries in the downtown area. The club also participates in the monthly art walks, which take place in both the downtown and Chinatown area of Los Angeles.

Skid Row, a name made-up to represent an area of downtown where people live. The people who live there, many of whom have: lost their homes, lost their jobs, mental issues, and been under represented; are also considered the invisible people of our society.

Please contact Skid Row Photography Club to donate your new or used cameras.

Michael Blaze skidrowphotography@yahoo.com or board member and assistant organizer photographer, Dave Bullock eecue@eecue.com

IOC a 501 (C) (3) nonprofit organization receives tax deductible gifts of cameras and cash. Contact Devara Elior at 323 365 6688 or ioc@pacbell.net


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