Gary Leonard is on a quest, and there’s no end in sight. The 69-year-old photographer (he’ll be 70 in April) chronicles Los Angeles in countless images for his passion project: a photo essay of his hometown that began with a photograph of the Dodgers playing Los Angeles Coliseum in 1960.
“It’s what I do,” says Leonard. “I kind of celebrate the history of the city in my own way.”
One of those thousands of images, a shot of a masked woman crossing a street in L.A.’s Larchmont Village under a sign that reads “Having a bad year?,” won Leonard first place in Alta Journal’s inaugural photography contest. We asked our readers for one photo that summed up 2020, and his image was one of dozens of entries. Submissions were required to have been taken on the West Coast during the 2020 calendar year and be previously unpublished.
Leonard covers all of Los Angeles, but he has a particular affinity for Larchmont Village, the scene of his winning shot. It’s “one of the few shopping districts developed about a hundred years ago. So it’s the centennial of Larchmont Village this year,” he explains. “It’s unique in Los Angeles in that it’s a village where everybody still knows everybody. In the middle of the city, that’s unusual. And it’s not a shopping mall; it’s really just a shopping district a few blocks long.”
Of the thousands of images he’s taken during his career, Leonard agrees that the one he submitted to Alta is indeed a winner. “I’m so glad you chose it,” he says. “Every once in a while, I really hit the mark, and I agree with you. I get it with that shot. I’m very pleased.”
Click through the photo gallery below to see Leonard’s winning image as well as the five photographs selected as Alta 2020 Photography Contest finalists.